Eat Your Vegetables! New Study Shows the Benefits of Vegetarian Diets

01/31/2013

Hold the beef and more carrots please!

This may be your new mantra after you hear what researchers in the UK are saying.

We've known for awhile that vegetarian diet can help you stay slim, but a new study by researchers at the University of Oxford found that those who do not eat meat or fish reduce their risk of heart disease by 32 percent.

Photo Credit: Zane Hollingsworth
Not all vegetarian meals have to be flavorless. If you're interested in going meatless, check out some vegetarian recipes online and make them at home.

The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and was funded by Cancer Research UK and the Medical Research Council. Participants in the study were recruited starting as far back as the 1990s. Forty-five thousand participants from all over England and Scotland volunteered; one third of the participants were vegetarians.

The “meat” of the study, for lack of a better word, involved asking the volunteers in-depth questions about their diet and exercise, their educational and socioeconomic background and major health factors such as smoking and alcohol consumption. The study was intended to test the rate of heart disease between those who do and do not eat both meat and fish. The results of the study showed that those who did not consume any meat had lower levels of cholesterol and lower blood pressures. Researchers believe this is the number one cause of lower rates of heart disease in the vegetarian group.

What changes can be expected?

Meatless Mondays have been in place for years, and the number of vegetarians (as well as semi-vegetarians) has grown exponentially over the past 10 years. Even meat-eaters are enjoy vegetarian options!

Though only six percent of UK residents are vegetarian, vegetarian or “meatless” products that are sold in the supermarket are purchased by nearly 40 percent of UK residents and account for roughly 637 million UK pounds in the country annually. This according to Thefoodpeople’s director, Charles Banks, as reported to UK based Channel 4 News.

Thefoodpeople predicted that there will be a 50 percent increase in the sale and purchase of these products in the coming years, stating that by 2017 the profits from these sales alone will be up to 800 million UK pounds. That is over 1.263 billion US dollars.

While this study isn’t a flawless predictor of what will happen in the US, it’s safe to say the vegetarian trend is likely to catch on. It used to be that being “green” was sexy, but maybe now we’re onto something altogether different. Maybe the new trend this spring is meatless, and the question is: Are you on board?

 By Jennifer Wolfe

For More on Heart Health:

Quiz: How healthy is your heart?

Myths About Heart Health

Pictures: What's in a healthy heart?


The Discovery Fit and Health team brings you the latest (and most interesting) health news as well as exclusive interviews, video clips, and other juicy tidbits from your favorite shows.
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