The findings of a new study published In Diabetes Care, a publication of the American Diabetes Association, finds that a meat-free diet is the most effective at reducing diabetes and heart disease when compared to other study groups, including “semi-vegetarians” and non-vegetarians. The data for this research, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health, came from the Adventist Health Study 2, a long term study of Seventh Day Adventists.
The study focused on key factors that contribute to “metabolic syndrome,” known to put people at greater risk for chronic diseases in the future. These key factors were blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, body fat, body mass, and waist size. Vegetarians had healthier stats in all of these factors except for cholesterol levels. However, the report does not indicate whether the vegetarians studied were lacto-vegetarian or not. This could be an important distinction since a vegan diet free of animal fats from dairy can significantly reduce cholesterol in the blood.
The lead researcher in the study, Nico Rizzo of Loma Linda University, reported to Reuters that he did not anticipate the results of the study to indicate such significant differences due to diet in the 700 subjects. The vegetarians in the group tended to be on average three years older than the others, and since age is such a significant risk factor, it was also quite interesting, said Rizzo, that this older group was actually in better shape compared to the others.