A long-term study of nearly 45,000 people in England and Scotland added more fuel to doctors’ advice that vegetables will do the heart more good than meat or fish.
According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a study by researchers at the University of Oxford showed vegetarians are as much as one-third less likely to become hospitalized or die from heart disease than meat and fish eaters.
What differs in these findings from other studies is that fish eating, often cited by nutritionists as a healthy alternative to red meat, was included with meat consumption.
At the start of the study in the 1990s, one-third of the participants said they were vegetarians. Over the course of 11 to 12 years, the number of study members who were hospitalized for heart disease was 1,066. Of those, 169 died.
Factoring their ages, exercise habits and health issues, the vegetarians were found to be 32 percent less likely to develop heart disease. When researchers also considered the individuals’ weights, there was a 28 percent difference in favor of the vegetarians.
“We’re able to be slightly more certain that it is something that’s in the vegetarian diet that’s causing vegetarians to have a lower risk of heart disease,” Francesca Crowe, Ph.D., who led the research team, told Reuters Health. “If people want to reduce their risk of heart disease by changing their diet, one way of doing that is to follow a vegetarian diet.”
The AJCN reported that the reduced risk of heart ailments was probably the result of lower cholesterol and blood pressure experienced by the vegetarians.
Keeping cholesterol and blood pressure in check is a focus of American Heart Month observed throughout February. In addition to eating more vegetables, taking dietary supplements such as CholesterLite and Omega Krill from Dr. Newton’s Naturals is another way to keep maintain good heart health.