I was thrilled when I was recently contacted by Healthline.com who wanted to write a guest post on my blog about how a vegetarian diet can reduce the risk of disease. According to Wikipedia, “Healthline lets individuals search and learn more about health information on the web. comScore stated that Healthline.com was the third most popular health site in February 2010, trailing only WebMD and Everyday Health. Healthline.com receives over 4.2 million monthly unique visitors and over 17 million page views per month.” Thank you to both David Novak (you can read his bio below) for writing this article and Healthline for providing such great information on their website.
Vegetarianism Study Proves Vital in Disease Prevention
-By David Novak
If you’re heart conscious, meat may not be your friend. A recent research project, conducted by Oxford University, found that a vegetarian diet can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease…to the tune of up to 32%. The study accounted for several variables including, activity level, age, sex, and whether the participant smoked or not.
Watching any National Heart Association commercial has probably schooled the entire population that heart disease is the single largest cause of death in the world. The new findings from Oxford revealed that a vegetarian diet could significantly reduce people’s risk of heart disease. Even when adjusting for body mass index, vegetarianism was found to reduce heart disease risk by 28-percent.
“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,” explains Dr. Francesca Crowe, lead author of the study at the Cancer Epidemiology Unit, University of Oxford.
This is the largest study ever conducted on a vegetarian lifestyle’s relationship to heart disease, comparing rates of heart disease between vegetarians and non-vegetarians. In fact, the study included over 45,000 people with 34% of them vegetarian eaters. Such a large group of vegetarians in one study allowed researchers to make more accurate estimates of the heart disease risks between vegetarian and non-vegetarian eaters.
So what can we ascertain from choosing leafy greens over meaty animal fat? As noted by Dr. Crowe, it has everything to do with lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels found in those who eat primarily vegetarian foods. Additionally, vegetarians in the study also generally had lower Body Mass Index, and fewer cases of diabetes and other organ diseases occurred. This is an important point to make. While vegetarianism is considered best for the prevention of heart disease, a healthy vegetarian lifestyle can also help prevent many other diseases, such as certain types of cancer, Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis and a host of other life maladies.
“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, University of Oxford.
So if you’re in denial about the importance of diet, take heed to this study. A balanced vegetarian diet is now being endorsed by major studies in the field, suggesting that vegetarian diets can increase your life span, help you lose weight, reduce cancer risks and improve your mood.
If you’re not up to giving up meat completely, you could always a try a flexitarian diet. Essentially flexitarianism is a part-time vegetarian, where the majority of the diet is veggies and fruits, but allows for the occasional meat bender. Either way you slice it, though, the findings reinforce the idea that diet is central to prevention of heart disease and many other diseases, and builds on previous work looking at the influence of vegetarian diets.
David Novak is a international syndicated newspaper columnist, appearing in newspapers, magazines, radio and TV around the world. His byline has appeared in GQ, National Geographic, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, Reader’s Digest, USA Today, among others, and he has appeared on The Today Show, the CBS Morning Show and Paul Harvey Radio. David is a specialist at consumer technology, health and fitness, and he also owns a PR firm and a consulting company where he and his staff focus on these industries. He is a regular contributing editor for Healthline.com. For more information, visit here.