Vegan Diet Found To Reduce Heart Disease Risk

By Hilda Scott email: , Feb 04, 2013 03:50 PM EST

A recent study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a vegetarian diet lowered the risk of heart disease by one third, or about 32%. The research included tracking almost 45,000 male and female residents of England and Scotland. One third of the recruited participants claimed to be vegetarian, eating no meat or fish.

Throughout the 1990s, the chosen participants upon joining the study completed detailed questionnaires about their health and lifestyles. The questionnaires were thorough and consisted of questions about various factors that affect health. The participants were asked to provide detailed information about not only their diet, but also their exercise habits and questions about alcohol and smoking consumption. Blood samples were provided by almost 20,000 of the volunteers and their blood pressures were documented. "The results clearly show that the risk of heart disease in vegetarians is about a third lower than in comparable non-vegetarians.", said Professor Tim Key, co-author of the study and deputy director of the Cancer Epidemiology Unit at the University of Oxford in a university news release. 

Until 2009, the group of participants was tracked and researchers found 1235 heart disease cases among them, of which 169 of them were mortalities and the remaining 1066 were diagnoses from hospitals. Data retrieved from the Myocardial Ischaemia National Audit Project (MINAP) served as validation for the heart disease cases. At the end of the study, the researchers concluded that those with a vegetarian diet showed signs of lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels than their meat eating counterparts, attributing to the reduced risk of heart disease.

"Most of the difference in risk is probably caused by effects on cholesterol and blood pressure, and shows the important role of diet in the prevention of heart disease," said  co-auther Dr. Francesca Crowe of the Cancer Epidemiology Unit at the University of Oxford.

The study comes from the Cancer Epidemiology Unit, at the University of Oxford, United Kingdom and compared the rates of heart disease between vegetarians and non-vegetarians. In the UK alone, heart disease is the cause of 65,000 deaths a year and is the single leading cause of death in most countries.

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