A new study has suggested that vegetarians might be at significantly less risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and stroke than their animal-eating counterparts.
Loma Linda University researchers, led by Nico S. Rizzo, found that vegetarians experience a 36 per cent lower prevalence of metabolic syndrome than non-vegetarians.
Because metabolic syndrome can be a precursor to heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, the findings indicate vegetarians may be at lower risk of developing these conditions.
Metabolic syndrome is defined as exhibiting at least three out of five total risk factors: high blood pressure, elevated HDL cholesterol, high glucose levels, elevated triglycerides, and an unhealthy waist circumference.
The study found that while 25 per cent of vegetarians had metabolic syndrome, the number significantly rises to 37 per cent for semi-vegetarians and 39 per cent for non-vegetarians.
The results hold up when adjusted for factors such as age, gender, race, physical activity, calories consumed, smoking, and alcohol intake.
The study examined more than 700 adults randomly sampled from Loma Linda University`s Adventist Health Study 2, a long-term study of the lifestyle and health of almost 100,000 Seventh-day Adventist Christians across the United States and Canada.
Thirty-five per cent of the subjects in this smaller sub-study were vegetarian. On average, the vegetarians and semi-vegetarians were three years older than non-vegetarians.
Despite their slightly older age, vegetarians had lower triglycerides, glucose levels, blood pressure, waist circumference, and body mass index (BMI).
Semi-vegetarians also had a significantly lower BMI and waist circumference compared to those who ate meat more regularly.
The finding was published in the journal Diabetes Care.