Vegetarian and pescetarian diets linked to lower risk of coronary heart disease

Vegetarian and pescetarian diets linked to lower risk of coronary heart disease

That said, researchers also found vegetarians and vegans had a 20 percent higher risk of stroke than their meat-eating counterparts, which is "equivalent to three more cases of stroke per 1,000 people over 10 years, mainly due to a higher rate of hemorrhagic stroke". Approximately 96% of people who began the study eating meat still did by the second dietary questionnaire, while 73% of vegetarians were still following a vegetarian or vegan diet.

They found that participants with a plant-based diet, including both vegetarians and vegans, had lower rates of heart disease but higher rates of stroke than meat eaters.

Writing in the BMJ, Tong and colleagues report that they analysed data from more than 48,000 adults who signed up to a wider study between 1993 and 2001, and who had no history of heart attack, stroke or angina.

A large new study on vegetarian, vegan, and pescatarian diets highlights a number of potential health benefits and risks associated with each diet, including everything from lowered risk of heart disease to a fairly notable increase in stroke risk.

The research found a 20 per cent increase [Photo: Getty] There are about 1.7 million vegetarians and vegans living in the United Kingdom with the diets becoming increasingly popular in recent years, partly due to perceived health benefits, as well as concerns about the environment and animal welfare.

After accounting for medical history, physical activity and smoking, among other factors that could influence the results, they determined pescetarians had a 13 percent lower risk of CHD, while vegetarians had a 22 percent lower risk.

It analyses data from the EPIC-Oxford study, a major long-term research project looking at diet and health. They were ten teamed into meat-eaters, pescetarians, and vegetarians including vegans. It's because of fish-eaters' levels of cholesterol, which aren't as little as vegetarians.

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Among the participants, there were 2,820 cases of coronary heart disease (CHD) and 1,072 case of stroke.

The study did adjust for self reported high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, and body mass index, which suggests that part of the associations might be attributed to these factors, it says.

This new research supports earlier findings that low cholesterol levels, though typically thought of as a healthy thing, may somehow cause a higher risk of hemorrhagic stroke.

Researchers concluded that more studies are needed to test how those nutrients might play a role in preventing strokes.

"It is based on results from just one study and the increase is modest relative to meat-eaters", Lawrence and McNaughton added.

"Evidence suggests that vegetarians might have different disease risks compared to non-vegetarians", the researchers said. There is a big limitation to the study, however, and it's that most of the participants were from the United Kingdom, meaning the results may not be applicable to populations in low-income countries where vegetarian diets are common.

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