Vegetarian diets linked to lower heart disease risks and weight loss, says new study

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Want to improve your heart health and possibly lose some weight? A vegetarian diet might be your answer, according to a new study from the University of Sydney, Australia.

Researchers reviewed several studies and found that people at high risk of heart disease and diabetes showed significant improvement when switching to a vegetarian diet.

What the Study Found: Good News for Your Heart and Weight

The study reviewed data from 29 past studies involving nearly 1,900 participants.

Most of these studies took place in the U.S., but there were also some from other countries like Italy, Iran, and New Zealand. The findings were consistently positive for those on a vegetarian diet.

People on vegetarian diets had lower levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL-C), reduced blood sugar levels (HbA1c), and also lost weight.

In fact, those with a high risk of heart disease experienced the most weight loss—an average of 3.6 kilograms (about 8 pounds).

Interestingly, participants who didn’t limit their calorie intake on a vegetarian diet lost more weight—an average of 4.7 kilograms—compared to those who did limit their calories (1.8 kilograms).

While it’s not clear why, this could point to additional benefits of a more unrestricted vegetarian diet.

Not All Vegetarian Diets Are Equal

It’s worth noting that not all vegetarian diets are created equal. Some vegetarian meals, especially the ones marketed for convenience, can be high in bad stuff like artificial sweeteners, high-fructose corn syrup, and salt.

In fact, eating such unhealthy vegetarian foods could still put you at a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Among the different types of vegetarian diets, those that included dairy and eggs (known as lacto-ovo vegetarian diets) were found to have the greatest reduction in bad cholesterol.

Final Takeaway: Making the Switch Can Make a Difference

The study suggests that switching to a vegetarian diet could offer multiple benefits, especially for those already at risk of heart disease or diabetes.

Besides potentially helping with weight loss, it could improve heart health markers like bad cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

So, if you’re considering a diet change for health reasons, a vegetarian diet might be worth considering.

However, it’s crucial to focus on whole, natural foods rather than processed vegetarian options that might be high in unhealthy ingredients.

If you care about heart health, please read studies that vitamin K helps cut heart disease risk by a third, and a year of exercise reversed worrisome heart failure.

For more information about heart health, please see recent studies about supplements that could help prevent heart disease, stroke, and results showing this food ingredient may strongly increase heart disease death risk.

The research findings can be found in JAMA Network Open.

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