Can a vegetarian diet help prevent heart disease?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
A recent study from scientists at Oxford University in England suggests that vegetarians are 32% less likely to be hospitalized or die from heart disease than meat eaters -- including those who eat mostly fish.

Researchers followed a total of 44,561 men and women living in England and Scotland for 11.5 years on average; 34% of those persons were vegetarians. Throughout the study, the researchers assessed the participants’ diet, smoking habits, exercise habits, body mass index, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.

After adjusting for potential compounding factors like age, alcohol consumption, and physical activity, they found that vegetarians had a 32% lower risk of being hospitalized or dying from heart disease. They even found that those who were vegetarians for at least five years during the study enjoyed similar heart-healthy benefits.

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Vandana  R. Sheth
Nutrition & Dietetics
Absolutely! There are many recent studies that have concluded that a healthy, low fat, high fiber vegetarian diet can prevent and possibly even reverse heart disease.  

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that low-fat vegan diets reduce the risk for heart disease in diabetics patients. Patients on low-fat vegan diets had better results than those following the diet recommended by the American Diabetes Association's guidelines.

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, found that by eating a plant-based diet full of whole grains, you can prevent and reverse heart disease. 

Similarly, Dr. Dean Ornish treated patients with lifestyle dietary changes and effectively reversed their heart disease.

Continue Learning about Vegetarian Diets

Vegetarian Diets

When you look at vegetarian diets, it's hard to do so without understanding that many of the practitioners believe that it is not only healthful, but more to practice vegetarianism. This is true even if the diet may include occasi...

onal meats or fish as in the Macrobiotic diet with it's Zen beliefs, or the Indian Ayurvedic diet, which finds milk and dairy central to good health along with plants. Anyone considering a vegetarian diet should learn about the food values of different vegetables, and consider getting advice on whether or not to supplement the diet with vitamins and minerals, particularly if you have special nutritional needs like growing children or pregnant or lactating women.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.