Going Vegetarian Good for Your Heart, But May Up Stroke Risk

Steven Reinberg wrote . . . . . . . . .

Vegetarianism is all the rage these days, but a new study suggests that slicing meat from your diet might raise your risk of stroke slightly.

While vegetarians had a 22% lower risk for heart disease, they had a 20% higher risk for stroke, British researchers found. Meanwhile, people who ate fish but no other meats (pescatarians) had a 13% lower risk of heart disease, with no increased stroke risk.

“The lower risk of heart disease is likely at least partly due to lower weight, lower blood pressure, lower blood cholesterol and lower rates of diabetes linked to pescatarian or vegetarian diets,” said lead researcher Tammy Tong, a nutritional epidemiologist in the Nuffield Department of Population Health at the University of Oxford.

Tong cautioned that this study can’t prove that not eating meat reduces the risk for heart disease or increases the risk for stroke, only that there seems to be a connection.

And the absolute reduction in the risk for heart disease and increased risk for stroke is modest, she said.

“When translated into absolute numbers, this was equivalent to 10 fewer cases of heart disease in the vegetarians than the meat eaters in every 1,000 people eating these diets over 10 years,” Tong said.

As for stroke, three more strokes would be seen among vegetarians compared with meat eaters over the same time, she said.

Why?

Recent evidence suggests that very low cholesterol levels might be linked to a higher risk of hemorrhagic stroke, Tong noted. Vegetarians and vegans might also have low levels of some nutrients, such as vitamin B12, which is only naturally available from animal foods, she added.

“Some research has suggested there may be a link between B12 deficiency and higher stroke risk, but the evidence is not conclusive,” Tong said.

Tong also said that only heart disease and stroke were studied, but other chronic conditions need to be looked at to show the total benefit of a vegetarian diet.

The report was published in the BMJ journal.

Mark Lawrence, a professor of public health nutrition at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia, said that dietary guidelines have the best advice for vegetarians as well as for fish and meat eaters.

That’s because they consider dietary associations with multiple health outcomes — not just heart disease and stroke, said Lawrence, who co-authored an accompanying journal editorial.

“Shifting towards a plant-based diet can have personal and planetary health benefits, though it does not necessarily mean becoming a vegetarian,” he said.

For the study, Tong and her colleagues collected data on more than 48,000 men and women, average age 45, with no history of stroke or heart disease.

Among the participants were more than 24,000 meat eaters, about 7,500 pescatarians and more than 16,000 vegetarians and vegans.

During the 18 years of the study, nearly 3,000 people developed heart disease and more than 1,000 suffered a stroke. About 500 of the strokes were caused by blood clots in the brain (ischemic stroke) and 300 resulted from bleeding in the brain (hemorrhagic stroke).

The researchers accounted for factors such as medical history, smoking, use of dietary supplements, and physical activity, which can affect the risk for heart disease and stroke.

One U.S. dietitian noted that there are benefits to vegetarian diets — as long as you include vitamins that may be lacking.

“Vegans and strict vegetarians need to be mindful of obtaining certain nutrients, such as vitamin B12, vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids from their diet and supplements,” said Samantha Heller, a senior clinical nutritionist at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City.

Not getting enough of these nutrients may increase the risk of certain health problems, she said.

“That said, a more plant-based approach to eating helps reduce the risk of diseases such as cardiovascular disease, certain cancers and type 2 diabetes,” Heller said.

“You can’t go wrong cutting back on red and processed meats such as beef, pork and ham and adding lentils, chickpeas, tofu, broccoli, spinach or cauliflower to your meals,” Heller advised.

Source: HealthDay


Today’s Comic

In Pictures: Home-cooked Vegetarian and Vegan Dishes

Vegan pad thai with peanut butter and purple sprouting broccoli

Celery and peanut wontons with chilli soy sauce

Vegan tomato curry

Vegan black rice salad with blistered broccoli and miso dressing

Vegan new potato, chard and coconut curry

Paneer, spinach and tomato salad

What’s for Lunch?

Organic Vegetarian Set Lunch at Vegacafe Lotus in Toyohashi City, Japan

The Menu

  • Tofu, Barley and Millet Patty
  • Potato Skin with Soy Protein and Purple Onion
  • Steamed Vegetables and Mushroom
  • Spanish-style Marinated Carrot
  • Eggplant and Zucchini with Sesame Sauce
  • Wakame and Cucumber with Plum Dressing
  • Assorted Beans Salad
  • Veggie Soup
  • Cooked Sprouted Brown Rice

New Vegetarian and Vegan Snacks

Satisfied Snacks, a new-to-market snack food company, is debuting its first product called Roughs.

The company says Roughs takes the healthy ingredients of a salad and turns it into a light crispy wafer. It contains no potato, corn, wheat, rice, oil or added sugar and the snacks are dried not fried.

The range includes: Beetroot and Goat’s Cheese, Tomato and Feta, Red Pepper and Walnut (vegan) and Carrot and Kimchi (vegan). All are handmade in the production kitchen in the UK.

Founder and chief executive of Satisfied Snacks, Heather Daniell, said: “Driven by the lack of healthy and tasty snack options I had to choose from – I created a solution which is delicious, convenient to eat on the go, packed full of healthy and natural ingredients and doesn’t make any compromises.”

Source: Talking Retail

What’s for Lunch?

Vegetarian Set Lunch at Cafe Lotus in Toyohashi, Japan

The Menu

  • Stri-fry Burdock in Coconut Oil
  • Vegetables with Sake Lees Paste
  • Agar Jelly of Bean Sprout and Long Yam
  • Fried Tofu with Pickles
  • Stir-fried Cabbage with Red Miso Sauce
  • Stir-fried Bamboo Shoot with Olive Oil
  • Seeweed Salad
  • Mushroom and Leek Soup
  • Sprouted Brown Rice