Vegetarian and Mediterranean diets are equally effective

The Mediterranean diet is good for the heart

Vegetarian and Mediterranean diet equally protects heart, a new study shows.

"Both the vegetarian and Mediterranean diets have been found to hold benefits in terms of heart health."
The vegetarian diet led to a more substantial drop in the "bad" LDL cholesterol that contributes to plaque build-up in the arteries, which is a risk factor for heart attack and stroke.

"To best evaluate this issue", says lead study author Francesco Sofi, a professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Florence and Careggi University Hospital in Italy, "we made a decision to compare a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet with a Mediterranean diet in the same group of people".

'People have more than one choice for a heart-healthy diet'.

Even more, the participants presented nearly the same BMI (body mass index) decrease rate.

Vegetarian and Mediterranean diets are equally effective, new research suggests.

The Mediterranean diet includes poultry, fish and some red meat as well as fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains.

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In fact, the study revealed going meat free causes people to lose around 1.9kg after three months while the Mediterranean diet leads to weight loss of around 1.8kg in the same period. After three months, they switched.

Both of these have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.

The randomized, open, crossover CARDIVEG (Cardiovascular Prevention with Vegetarian Diet) trial was conducted in Florence from 2014 to 2015 and included 118 healthy but overweight omnivorous participants ages 18 to 75 (mean age of 51.1; 78% of whom were female; BMI ≥ 25).

There were two notable differences between the diets, though.

In an accompanying editorial, Cheryl A.M. Anderson - who is an associate professor of preventive medicine at the University of California, San Diego - comments on the value of the study.

'Future research should compare the diets in patients at higher risk for heart disease and should also explore whether or not healthful versions of traditional diets around the world that emphasise fresh foods and limit sugars, saturated fats, and sodium can prevent and manage obesity and cardiovascular diseases'.

Sticking to a Mediterranean diet, which includes a modest amount of meat as well as plenty of fruit, vegetables, wholegrains and olive oil, is just as good for cardiovascular health as going vegetarian.

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