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Study finds black vegetarians healthier than their meat-eating counterparts

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 25, 2014 at 7:07 am •  Published: April 25, 2014
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African-American vegetarians are at lower risk of cardiovascular disease, and even diabetes and high blood pressure, most likely from the healthy eating practices, says a new study from Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, California.

The study looked at more than 26,000 black Seventh-day Adventists ranging from strict vegetarians to their meat-eating counterparts.

The subjects are part of the Loma Linda University Adventist long-term health study and is funded by the National Institutes of Health. The study, “Vegetarian diets and cardiovascular risk factors in black members of the Adventist Health Study-2,”is available in the journal, Public Health Nutrition.

Amont the many findings, the study found among vegetarians, a nearly 50 percent lower risk for hypertension, and a more than 40 percent less likelihood of obesity.

Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University, said she doesn’t see the results as a question of race as much as proof that healthy eating is beneficial regardless of ethnic heritage.

“This study provides an indication that a vegetarian eating plan can reduce the risk of heart disease, but since the study is cross-sectional, and not a study to assess does the diet cause the reduced risk, more research is needed,” Diekman said in a written statement, “As a registered dietitian I can say that other studies do show the positive benefits of a vegetarian diet in improving overall health and weight.”

Loma Linda University is a Seventh-day Adventist institution. The study selected African-Americans from the denomination because members generally have lower rates of alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking, factors that could impact a cardiovascular study.

The study categorized subjects as: vegans, who abstain from any meat products; lacto-ovo vegetarians, who consume eggs and dairy; semi-vegetarians, who infrequently eat meat; pesco-vegetarians, those who eat fish but no meat; and non-vegetarians.

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