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The Benefits of a Vegetarian Diet for Cardiovascular Disease & Cancer

Cardiovascular disease and cancer are the leading causes of death globally. Strong evidence supports the ability of diet to reduce the risk. This massive study took a closer look.

This massive umbrella study put together the data from 48 systematic reviews and meta-analyses published between 2000 and 2023.

They found that vegetarian diets improved heart health by significantly reducing total cholesterol and the heart harmful LDL cholesterol.

Several studies suggested improved blood pressure with vegetarian diets, but the results were not completely consistent and, so, were inconclusive.

Vegetarians have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, ischemic heart disease and stroke.

The data found that vegetarians are significantly less likely to die of ischemic heart disease, circulatory disease and cerebrovascular disease. They are also less likely to die of cancer.

The combined data showed a lower risk of overall cancer and of several specific cancers for vegetarians, including liver, pancreatic, lung, prostate, bladder, colorectal, melanoma, kidney, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and lymphatic cancer.

The data also revealed lower levels of the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein in vegetarians and lower body mass index.

HbA1c is the most important marker of long term blood sugar and diabetes control. The data revealed that vegetarians have significantly lower HbA1c. They also have lower fasting blood sugar and less insulin resistance (HOMA-IR). Vegetarians have a significant 27% lower risk of diabetes.

This massive review of the research adds to the compelling evidence for the benefits of a vegetarian diet.

PLOS ONE. May 15, 2024;19(5):e0300711.

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