Are Vegetarians More Heart Healthy?

As if we needed more evidence that vegetarianism is healthy, new research suggests that vegetarians experience a 36 percent lower prevalence of metabolic syndrome than non-vegetarians. Metabolic syndrome is defined as exhibiting at least three out of five different risk factors: high blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol, high glucose levels, elevated triglycerides and an unhealthy waist circumference.

The study, conducted at The Loma Linda University, found that while 25 percent of vegetarians had metabolic syndrome, the number significantly rises to 37 percent for semi-vegetarians and 39 percent for non-vegetarians. The results even hold up when adjusted for factors such as age, gender, race, physical activity, calories consumed, smoking and alcohol intake. Additionally, the vegetarians and semi-vegetarians in the study had lower triglycerides, glucose levels, blood pressure, waist circumference and BMI. Semi-vegetarians also had a significantly lower BMI and waist circumference compared to regular meat eaters.

The results of this study show how diet can improve many of the primary cardiovascular risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome. Because metabolic syndrome is often a precursor to heart disease, diabetes and stroke, the findings indicated vegetarians might be at a lower risk of developing these conditions.