Veg food prevents chronic diseases

Updated: Feb 28, 2010, 00:00 AM IST

Michigan: Well planned vegetarian diets are healthy and nutritious for all age groups and help prevent heart diseases, cancer, obesity and diabetes.

Winston Craig, professor of nutrition and wellness at Andrews University, and Reed Mangels, nutrition advisor at the Vegetarian Resource Group, Baltimore, conducted the study on behalf of the American Dietetic Association (ADA).

Vegetarian diets are often associated with health advantages, including lower blood cholesterol levels, lower risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure levels and lower risk of hypertension and type 2 diabetes.

"Vegetarian diets tend to be lower in saturated fat and cholesterol and have higher levels of dietary fibre, magnesium and potassium, vitamins C and E, folate, carotenoids, flavonoids," the study said.

These nutritional differences may explain some of the health advantages of those following a varied, balanced vegetarian diet, said an ADA release.

The study draws on results from ADA`s evidence analysis process to show vegetarian diets can be nutritionally adequate in pregnancy and result in positive maternal and infant health outcomes.

Besides, an evidence-based review showed a vegetarian diet is associated with a lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease.

A section in ADA`s paper on vegetarian diets and cancer has been significantly expanded to provide details on cancer-protective factors in vegetarian diets.

An expanded section on osteoporosis includes roles of fruits, vegetables, soy products, protein, calcium, vitamins D and K and potassium in bone health.