Meat-heavy diets, such as the Paleo diet, are said to be the best for weight loss.
However, when it comes to lowering the risk of certain health conditions, such as heart disease, it ranks dead last–at least when compared to this diet.
According to new research reported at the American Heart Association EPI/Lifestyle 2015 meeting, people who ate a semi-vegetarian diet, which emphasizes less meat consumption, were 20 percent less likely to die from heart disease and stroke.
In addition, it appears those who adopted a more plant-based diet were healthier overall–and oftentimes, had a healthier body mass index (BMI) too.
“A pro-vegetarian diet doesn’t make absolute recommendations about specific nutrients,” says Camille Lassale, Ph.D., an epidemiologist from Imperial College London’s School of Public Health and lead author of the study. “It focuses on increasing the proportion of plant based foods relative to animal-based foods, which results in an improved nutritionally balance diet.”
For the study, researchers examined data from over 451,000 European adults who participated in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study, or EPIC, which initially started in 1992. Here researchers examined people who did not initially have any chronic diseases, looking at questionnaires examining their food frequency, lifestyle, and physical activity habits. Researchers also examined if these people developed any chronic diseases later on in the study, such as heart disease or stroke, and if they eventually died from these conditions.
Comparing the results, researchers found a startling coincidence: People who ate a diet where 70 percent of the calories came from plants were 20 percent less likely to die from heart disease. However, those who ate a more meat-based diet, where only 45 percent of the calories came from plant sources, were more likely to die from the disease, as well as other related risk factors, such as stroke.
These findings, not surprisingly to researchers, are also similar to guidelines the American Heart Association recommends to reduce the risk of heart disease. However, they don’t recommend avoiding meat completely based on these findings.
“Instead of drastic avoidance of animal-based foods, substituting some of the meat in your diet with plant-based sources may be a very simple, useful way to lower cardiovascular mortality,” says Lassale.
What This Means For You
While diets such as the Paleo diet could make you thin, semi-vegetarians have a distinct advantage: They help slim you down while reducing your risk of heart disease or stroke. Want to reap these rewards yourself? Researchers don’t recommend cutting out meat completely; instead, try substituting some of your favorite animal products with plants instead. It’s simple, but it works–and it’s good for the health of your heart as well!
Readers: Do you prefer a meat-based diet or a plant-based diet?
Semi-Veggie Diet Effectively Lowers Heart Disease, Stroke Risk – ScienceDaily.com
Semi-Vegetarian Diet Lowers Risk of Heart Disease, Stroke (Press Release) – EurekAlert.org