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Scientists at England’s Oxford University Concluded in a recent study that vegetarians were 32 percent less likely to be hospitalised or die from heart disease than people who ate meat and fish.

The research involved 45,000 adults, one-third of them vegetarians. They were studied for an average of 11 and a half years. The scientists were careful to account for factors such as their age, how much they exercised, whether they smoked or not, their alcohol consumption and their background.

Francesca Crowe one of the authors of the study and a nutritional epidemiologist at Oxford attributed the vegetarians resistance to heart disease to the fact that they had lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure due to their dietary choice.

Typically, vegetarian diets are lower in saturated fat and cholesterol. Vegetarians typically have lower blood cholesterol levels. Plant based diets normally include foods that are rich in soluble fibre foods such as dry beans, oats, carrots, squash, apples, and citrus which are useful for lowering serum cholesterol levels.

Various factors exist in fruits and vegetables that provide possible protection against cardiovascular disease. These factors include folic acid, dietary fiber, potassium, magnesium, carotenoids, phytosterols, flavonoids, and other polyphenolic antioxidants.

The many flavonoids in fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains, have extensive biological properties that reduce the risk of heart disease. Flavonoids are among the most potent antioxidants. They protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation; inhibit the formation of blood clots; and have hypolipidemic effects and anti-inflammatory action. European studies found that those who had the highest consumption of flavonoids had 60 percent less mortality from heart disease and 70 percent lower risk of stroke than the low flavonoid consumers.

Fruit and vegetables are abundant in powerful antioxidants that can counter free radicals and give protection from cholesterol oxidation. These antioxidants are present in the yellow orange and red pigments seen in some fruit and vegetables. Persons with high levels of serum carotenoids have a reduced risk of heart disease.

 Lycopene is the red pigment in tomatoes, pink grapefruit, and watermelon and therefore abundant in a vegetarian diet. The recent EURAMIC study found that a high intake of lycopene was associated in men with a 48 percent lower risk of suffering a heart attack compared with a low intake of lycopene. Cholesterol synthesis is suppressed and LDL receptor activity is augmented by the carotenoids beta-carotene and lycopene.


Healthy volunteers who consumed a vegetarian diet that was made up from green, leafy vegetables and other low-calorie vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, bell peppers, celery, green beans and fruits, nuts, sweet corn and peas experienced after two weeks decreases of 25, 33, 20 and 21 percent in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and total/HDL cholesterol ratio, respectively.









Protection From Heart Disease
Health Benefits of a Plant based Diet