Vegetarian diet protects against heart disease

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Vegetarians are less likely to have a heart attack

Vegetarian diet is considered particularly healthy in many ways. While deficiency symptoms as a result of the vegetarian diet were feared for a long time, it has now been clearly scientifically proven that vegetarians do not expose themselves to risk through their dietary behavior, but actually promote their health. According to a recent study by British researchers, the risk of heart disease is also significantly reduced by not eating meat.

The aim of the study “was to investigate the association of a vegetarian diet with the risk of fatal and non-fatal heart diseases,” write the researchers around Francesca L Crowe from the University of Oxford in the specialist journal “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” (online) . The result was clear: Vegetarians have heart diseases much less often than meat eaters. The risk of being admitted to hospital for a heart attack is reduced by a third among vegetarians. However, this could - at least in part - also be due to the generally healthier lifestyle of vegetarians.

Data from almost 45,000 patients evaluated As part of their study, the British researchers evaluated the data from a total of 44,561 men and women from the "European Prospective Investigation in Cancer and Nutrition" (EPIC) study. Of the English and Scottish study participants, 34 percent and around 15,000 subjects, respectively, were vegetarians. Using the hospital data and death certificates, the researchers checked which heart complaints the subjects had within an average of 11.6 years after the start of the study. A total of 1,066 hospitalizations and 169 deaths as a result of a heart attack were observed during the study period. The risk of vegetarians was 32 percent lower than that of non-vegetarians, Crowe and colleagues write. In addition, the vegetarians had on average a lower body mass index, cholesterol level and blood pressure.

Vegetarians with a healthier lifestyle Because overweight, high cholesterol and high blood pressure are associated with heart disease, the researchers believe that this could also be the way in which vegetarian nutrition reduces the risk of heart attack. However, vegetarians often maintain a significantly healthier lifestyle with more exercise and abstain from alcohol and tobacco, so it cannot be ruled out that the causal link is at least partly due to the generally healthier lifestyle and is not caused by the vegetarian diet itself. (fp)

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