New research suggests that shunning meat significantly reduces the chance of developing metabolic syndrome, a condition that markedly increases the likelihood of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Researchers at Loma Linda University studied more than 700 adults randomly sampled from the Adventist Health Study 2. To be classed as having metabolic syndrome a participant needed to exhibit at least three out of five total risk factors: high blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol, high glucose levels, elevated triglycerides, or an unhealthy waist circumference. Results showed that 25% of vegetarians studied had metabolic syndrome, compared with 37% of semi-vegetarians and 39% of non-vegetarians. Even after the researchers accounted for factors such as age, gender, race, physical activity, calories consumed, smoking, and alcohol intake, the results remained the same. In total, 35% of the subjects studied were vegetarian. Both the vegetarians and semi-vegetarians were, on average, three years older than the non-vegetarians. However, despite being slightly older, the vegetarians had lower triglycerides, glucose levels, blood pressure, waist circumference, and body mass index (BMI). The semi-vegetarians also had a significantly lower BMI and waist circumference than the non-vegetarians. Gary Fraser MD, PhD, principal investigator of the Adventist Health Study 2, concluded: "This work again shows that diet improves many of the main cardiovascular risk factors that are part of metabolic syndrome. Trending toward a plant-based diet is a sensible choice."
Nico S. Rizzo, Joan Sabaté, Karen Jaceldo-Siegl, Gary E. Fraser. Vegetarian Dietary Patterns Are Associated With a Lower Risk of Metabolic Syndrome: The Adventist Health Study 2. Diabetes Care. 2011 Mar 16. [Epub ahead of print]. Doi:10.2337/dc10-1221
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