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Vegetarian and Mediterranean diet may be equally effective in preventing heart disease



A lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet, which includes eggs and dairy but excludes meat and fish, and a Mediterranean diet are likely equally effective in reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke, according to new research.

 

Previous separate studies have shown that a Mediterranean diet reduces certain risk factors for cardiovascular disease, as does a vegetarian diet; however, this was the first study to compare effects of the two distinct eating patterns

 

Current study authors said they wanted to evaluate whether switching to a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet would also be heart-healthy in people who were used to eating both meat and fish. “To best evaluate this issue, we decided to compare a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet with a Mediterranean diet in the same group of people,” said Francesco Sofi, M.D., Ph.D, lead study author and professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Florence and Careggi University Hospital in Italy.

 

The study included 107 healthy but overweight participants, ages 18-75, who were randomly assigned to follow for three months either a low-calorie vegetarian diet, which included dairy and eggs, or a low-calorie Mediterranean diet for three months. The Mediterranean diet included poultry, fish and some red meat as well as fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains. After three months, the participants switched diets. Most participants were able to stay on both diets.

 

Researchers found participants on either diet:

 

  • lost about 3 pounds of body fat;
  • lost about 4 pounds of weight overall; and
  • experienced about the same change in body mass index, a measure of weight in relationship to height.

 

Authors said they did find two differences between the diets that may be noteworthy. The vegetarian diet was more effective at reducing LDL (the “bad”) cholesterol, while the Mediterranean diet resulted greater reductions in triglycerides, high levels of which increase the risk for heart attack and stroke.

 

Still, “the take-home message of our study is that a low-calorie lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet can help patients reduce cardiovascular risk about the same as a low-calorie Mediterranean diet,” Sofi said. “People have more than one choice for a heart-healthy diet.”

 

American Heart Association
newsroom.heart.org/news/vegetarian-and-mediterranean-diet-may-be-equally-effective-in-preventing-heart-disease



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