Consuming a vegetarian diet has been associated with greater health outcomes, but a recent study found that eating meat doesn’t significantly raise the risk of heart disease over a 10-year span. So the question remains, is a vegetarian diet better for the heart?
The researchers do not suggest that a vegetarian diet is useless when it comes to preventing heart disease, but rather that its benefits may not be as strong as some would believe. Previous research findings have suggested that going vegetarian provides numerous heart-health benefits.
The study looked at the results from a U.S. survey that compared vegetarians with thousands of meat eaters. The researchers did find that vegetarians were thinner, but the risk of heart disease wasn’t significantly lower in vegetarians compared to meat eaters.
Study leader Dr. Hyunseok Kim said, “Followers of the vegetarian diet do have lower risks of obesity, high blood pressure, and metabolic syndrome” – which are all risk factors for heart disease.
Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University, added, “We would certainly consider this study as we look for more data on the health benefits of vegetarian diets, but this study is contrary to evidence provided in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and in a position paper of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.”
Diekman suggests that people should adopt a healthier diet overall with more fruits and vegetables as a means of improving health.