Vegetarian Diets Lower Cholesterol Levels

The Physicians Committee

Vegetarian Diets Lower Cholesterol Levels

November 9, 2015

A vegetarian diet is beneficial for heart health, according to a meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Researchers reviewed 11 studies on the effects of vegetarian diets on cholesterol levels. Those assigned to a vegetarian diet experienced a significant reduction in total, LDL, and HDL cholesterol, which corresponded with about a 10 percent reduced risk of heart disease. The vegetarian diet was especially beneficial for healthy weight and overweight individuals but less effective for obese individuals, underscoring the importance of early dietary intervention for long-term risk reduction. This is the first meta-analysis to assess randomized-controlled trials to evaluate the effects of vegetarian diets on blood lipids and points to the efficacy of dietary interventions for hypercholesterolemia.
According to a corresponding editorial, vegetarian diets include high intakes of dietary fiber and health-promoting phytochemicals, low intakes of dietary cholesterol and saturated fats, and complete avoidance of animal products, making it ideal for heart health.

Wang F, Zheng J, Yang B, Jiang J, Fu Y, Li D. Effects of vegetarian diets on blood lipids: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Am Heart Assoc. Published online October 27, 2015.

Ha V, de Souza RJ. “Fleshing out” the benefits of adopting a vegetarian diet. J Am Heart Assoc. Published online October 27, 2015.

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