Cholesterol and vegetarian diet
Can a vegan or vegetarian diet prevent serious diseases such as heart attacks, diabetes, and cancer? What happens in the body when we stop eating meat, what nutrient deficiencies occur, for whom a plant-based diet is suitable or unsuitable, and will a vegetarian diet lower cholesterol? We’ll clarify that here.
We think that bloggers should be very careful when they publish articles about health. In this article, of course, we will not share our opinion, but the results of the studies.
In European countries, vegetarian or vegan diets are now very widespread. Around 10 percent of the population in Germany is thought to be vegetarian. Vegetarians consume predominantly or exclusively plant-based foods. While ovo-Lacto vegetarians still consume egg and dairy products, vegans abstain from all foods and products of animal origin. Pescatarians, for example, abstain from meat but eat fish. If you want to know more about the vegan end vegetarian diet, take a look at our article “vegan vs vegetarian“. But is the vegetarian or vegan diet healthy for the body?
Is a vegetarian diet healthy?
Vegetarians consume a lot of fruits and vegetables as well as grain products. According to AOK, of the biggest health insurance companies in Germany, this is considered very healthy, which has been proven by various studies. Another reason could be a high consumption of cholesterol-lowering foods, such as soybeans, legumes, nuts, and vegetable oils. Another explanation is that vegetarians consume fewer total and saturated fatty acids. Saturated fatty acids are largely found in animal products. High consumption is said to have a negative effect on heart health. Will a vegetarian diet lower cholesterol? Yes, it will.
Among other things, vegetarians have a lower risk of obesity and diabetes mellitus type 2. Cardiovascular problems also occur less frequently. Even on some cancer types, this nourishing form has preventive effects, particularly on intestine cancer. However, physicians emphasize that most vegetarians are also moderate in their use of alcohol and nicotine, and tend to exercise more often. Presumably, the clearly measurable health benefits arise from this overall package.
Vegetarian diet and weight loss
Vegetarians who eat a healthy and balanced diet are less likely to be overweight or obese compared to meat-eaters. A vegetarian diet can support weight loss. This is mainly because plant foods help reduce body fat. According to a study at Georgia State University in the U.S., the vegetarian group lost twice as much weight as the omnivores. The researchers suspect various reasons behind this.
- Plant foods usually contain a lot of water and fiber. Besides that, vegetarian food has fewer calories overall than meat.
- A vegetarian diet changes our gut microbiome, which is the composition of microorganisms in the digestive tract that influence our energy balance and feeling of fullness.
- Eating a plant-based diet increases insulin sensitivity, i.e. how sensitive organs are to insulin, leading to greater fat loss.
- Secondary plant substances, especially polyphenols, have a positive effect on body fat and support weight loss.
Study about vegetarian diet and heart disease
The scientists at the University of Oxford observed 48,000 participants over 18 years. They divided 48,188 participants into meat-eaters and vegetarians. They concluded that people who eat a vegetarian diet have a 22 percent lower risk of ischemic heart diseases, such as coronary heart disease (CHD), arrhythmias, or heart attacks. You can find the details of the study here.
In this prospective cohort in the UK, fish eaters and vegetarians had lower rates of ischaemic heart disease than meat-eaters,….”
Vegetarian diet and cancer
There is evidence of a somewhat lower risk in vegetarians for several diseases: Diverticular disease, cataracts, kidney stones, arthritis, soft tissue disease, and metabolic syndrome. A vegetarian or pescetarian lifestyle may reduce the risk of cancer. This is shown by a study conducted by Oxford University. Researchers at Oxford University analyzed data from over 472,000 subjects to investigate the relationship between diet and cancer risk.
Compared to regular meat-eaters, the risk of developing any type of cancer was two percent lower in people with low meat consumption, ten percent lower in pescetarians, and 14 percent lower in vegetarians. Prostate cancer risk was 31 percent lower in vegetarians and 20 percent lower in pescetarians than in regular meat-eaters.
Colorectal cancer risk was 11 percent lower in men with low meat consumption, 31 percent lower in pescetarians, and 43 percent lower in vegetarians. However, the risk for women did not differ significantly in any of these dietary groups.
Is a vegetarian diet healthy?
A plant-based diet has a positive effect on the body and reduces the risk of many chronic diseases. However, this only applies if the person also eats a balanced and varied diet. The positive effects are absent if a vegetarian eats only chips and sweets every day. If you are thinking of changing your diet, some research on foods and their ingredients is necessary. Those who live a vegetarian lifestyle should also have regular blood work done by a doctor to detect possible deficiency symptoms at an early stage.
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