The Health Benefits Of A Vegetarian Diet

2012-06-29 | |
Last updated: 2012-06-29

What Are The Health Benefits Of A Vegetarian Diet?

However, just because people may believe that something is healthy or unhealthy does not make it so. We need look no further than beliefs regarding the dangers of immunizations to see this. As a result, it becomes important to understand what medical research has found in terms of the health benefits of a vegetarian diet.

Better Weight Management With A Vegetarian Diet

One of the simplest benefits of a diet that consists mostly of vegetables relates to managing weight. According to research from Oxford University studying 22,000 people, those who ate meat had an average weight increase of 2 kg or 4.4 lbs each year. In comparison, vegetarians only increased in weight by 0.5 kg or 1 lb annually. Given the health risks associated with excess weight and the large percentage of the population that is obese, a vegetarian diet could be very helpful to many people.

Vegetarian Diets Reduce Heart Disease And Stroke Risk

Another aspect of the vegetarian diet to improve health relates to the risks for heart disease and stroke. A 2008 study by the Karolinska Institutet found that a vegan diet that also eliminated gluten was able to reduce the amounts of bad (LDL) cholesterol in the blood. The diet also reduced levels of inflammation in the body. LDL cholesterol can lead to blocked arteries that can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Inflammation is dangerous to the cardiovascular system for the same reason.

More recent research has found similar results. In a 2011 study from Loma Linda University, scientists found that vegetarians had a 36% lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome. Given that metabolic syndrome is closely related to obesity, heart disease and stroke, lowering the risk for metabolic syndrome also reduces the risks for the related conditions.

Reducing Diabetes Risk With A Plant-Based Diet

Also related to metabolic syndrome risk is the risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes. Further research from Loma Linda University in 2011 determined that African Americans eating a vegetarian diet were less likely to develop this form of Diabetes. In particular, vegetarian diets that included dairy products reduced the risks of this form of Diabetes by more than 50% in comparison to people on a diet that involved meat. For African Americans eating vegan, the risk for developing the disease was more than 70%.

Given the disproportionate degree to which Diabetes affects African Americans, the health benefits of a vegetarian diet are significant.

Though they did not report the results, the researchers also indicated that lower Diabetes risks were also seen among members of other ethnic groups.

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Category: Disease Prevention, General Health, Health Risks, Medical Research

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