Living a long life is inextricably tied to the decisions people make. It is well understood that eating unhealthy foods and leading a sedentary lifestyle can hike the risk of developing a wide-range of life-threatening complications, such as obesity and heart disease. It is also increasingly understood that certain diets offer the best defence against these threats. Mounting evidence makes a strong case for following a vegan and vegetarian diet.
“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,” explained Dr Francesca Crowe, lead author of the study at the Cancer Epidemiology Unit, University of Oxford.
This is the largest study ever conducted in the UK comparing rates of heart disease between vegetarians and non-vegetarians.
The analysis looked at almost 45,000 volunteers from England and Scotland enrolled in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)-Oxford study, of whom 34 per cent were vegetarian. Such a significant representation of vegetarians is rare in studies of this type, and allowed researchers to make more precise estimates of the relative risks between the two groups.
Professor Tim Key, co-author of the study and deputy director of the Cancer Epidemiology Unit, University of Oxford, said: “The results clearly show that the risk of heart disease in vegetarians is about a third lower than in comparable non-vegetarians.”
Another study suggests that following a vegan diet offers a robust defence against obesity – a major risk factor for a range of life-threatening complications.
According to findings published Journal of General Internal Medicine, people on a vegetarian diet, and especially those following a vegan one, see better results than dieters on other weight-reducing plans. In fact, they can lose around two kilograms more on the short term, said Ru-Yi Huang of E-Da Hospital in Taiwan after reviewing the results of twelve diet trials.
Huang’s review includes twelve randomised controlled trials, involving 1,151 dieters who followed a specific eating regime for between nine and 74 weeks.