A vegetarian diet can lower your risk of developing heart disease?
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Those following a vegetarian diet are less likely to be hospitalized or die from ischemic heart disease than those who do not.
WHAT WE KNOW
Cardiovascular disease (CVD)—the class of diseases that affect the heart and/or the blood vessels—is a leading cause of illness and death worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), CVD was responsible for 17.3 million deaths worldwide, 6.2 million of which were due to stroke.¹ Ischemic heart disease (IHD) is a type of cardiovascular disease where the blood supply to the heart is reduced due to a narrowing of the arteries.
Environmental factors such as diet, exercise, smoking and alcohol consumption affect your risk of developing CVD. Numerous studies have examined the possible benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables on development of CVD. The fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables are all suspected to be beneficial to heart health. A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition compared how vegetarian and non-vegetarian diets affect the risk of developing ischemic heart disease.
HOW DO WE KNOW THIS?
Scientists at England’s Oxford University followed 44,561 adults, one-third of whom were vegetarians, for an average of 11 ½ years. They accounted for factors such as age, whether they smoked, alcohol consumption, exercise, education and socioeconomic background. Overall, vegetarians were 32% less likely to be hospitalized or die from heart disease than non-vegetarians. The most compelling reasons for this finding seem to be that vegetarians had lower blood pressure and cholesterol compared to non-vegetarians. Vegetarians also had a lower average body mass index (BMI) compared to meat and fish eaters.²
Adequate fruit and vegetable consumption has been correlated with decreased risk of heart disease. So eating a diet low in saturated fats and rich in fruits and vegetables is the best choice when it comes to promoting a long and healthy life!
Just remember that when it comes to protecting yourself from many chronic diseases, eating your recommended amount of fruits and vegetables each day, and getting daily physical activity are two very important aspects of a healthy lifestyle.
Make sure you’re eating a variety of fruits and vegetables to give your body the best recipe of vitamins and minerals to promote heart health. Check out our fruit and vegetable recipes to help incorporate these fruit- and vegetable-rich meals into a heart-healthy diet!
¹ “Global Atlas on Cardiovascular Disease Prevention and Control.” WHO
. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2013. View Article
² Crowe, Francesca L., Paul N. Appleby, Ruth C. Travis, et al. “Risk of Hospitalization or Death from Ischemic Heart Disease among British Vegetarians and Nonvegetarians: Results from the EPIC-Oxford Cohort Study.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2013): n. pag. Print