Vegetarian diets have been associated with reductions in risk for several chronic diseases, including hypertension, metabolic syndrome, diabetes mellitus and ischemic heart disease (IHD).
For the current study, researchers from Loma Linda University in California examined all-cause and cause-specific mortality in a group of 73,308 men and women Seventh-day Adventists. They assessed dietary patients using a questionnaire that categorized study participants into five groups: non-vegetarian, semi-vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian (includes seafood), lacto-ovo-vegetarian (includes dairy and egg products) and vegan (excludes all animal products).
Overall, 8 percent were vegans who didn't eat any animal products while 29 percent were lacto-ovo-vegetarians who didn't eat fish or meat but did eat dairy and egg products. Another 15 percent occasionally ate meat, including fish.
Overall, seven people died of any cause per 1,000 meat eaters over a year. That compared to about five or six deaths per 1,000 vegetarians every year. Men seemed to benefit the most from a plant-based diet.
The researchers cautioned, however, that they can't say the participants' plant-based diets prevented their deaths, because there may be other unmeasured differences between the groups. The vegetarian groups tended to be older, more highly educated and more likely to be married, to drink less alcohol, to smoke less, to exercise more and to be thinner.
Source: JAMA Internal Medicine, June 2013
To learn more about transitioning to a healthy vegetarian diet, check out my latest book, The Pant-Based Power Diet.
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.