If you’re looking to make heart-healthy choices, you might want to consider giving up meat.
A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that vegetarians had a 32 percent lower risk of being hospitalized with or dying from ischemic heart disease over an 11-year period.
Ischemic heart disease is the most common cause of death in most Western countries. The disease is marked by a reduced blood supply to the heart muscle most commonly caused by the build up of plaque in the arteries. Other risk factors include high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes.
This is one of the first studies to track the difference in heart disease between vegetarians and non-vegetarians. According to the research, a vegetarian diet was associated with lower IHD risk that scientists believed could result from differences in non-HDL cholesterol (also known as “good cholesterol”) and systolic blood pressure. The vegetarians were found to have a lower body mass index, as well as lower “bad’ cholesterol and systolic blood pressure readings than their non-veggie counterparts.
The researchers followed 44,561 men and women in England and Scotland who were part of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)–Oxford study. One third of the participants were vegetarians. Researchers kept track of IHD cases through hospital records and death certificates.