A healthy vegetarian diet is the recommended dietary choice for longevity in life and heart health. Low-fat whole foods, plant-based diet has now been enthusiastically suggested for those managing or trying to prevent diabetes.
Studies have shown that most any form of a healthy vegetarian diet, vegan or not, lengthens lifespan in adults. The key for longevity is a healthy plant-based diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and a low amount of animal proteins.
What, Specifically, Do These Studies Say About a Healthy Vegetarian Diet?
Studies done at Loma Linda University explored the complex relationship between dietary patterns and mortality rates among males and females of the Seventh Day Adventist church in both Canada and the United States. In the five years spanning the study, 73, 000 people age 25 and older were asked to record their day-to-day food intake.
Almost half of the study’s participants were meat eaters who consumed a diet focused on red meat, poultry, milk, fish, and eggs several times a week. Only 8% of participants were vegan, while 29% were committed to a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet. Lacto-ovo vegetarians eat eggs and dairy products, but do not eat actual meat proteins. 10% of study participants were pesco-vegetarians– eating fish, milk, and eggs…but not meat or poultry.
During the length of the study, approximately 2.570 deaths occurred. Those who committed to some form of healthy vegetarian diet were 12% less likely to die. Death rates for all groups who ate a plant-based diet rich in fruits and vegetables saw a reduction in mortality of 12% compared to those eating a diet based more on animal proteins.
Does a Healthy Vegetarian Diet Really Increase Longevity and Reduce Heart Disease?
Registered dietician at the National Institute for Health, Jody Engel, says that most experts and health organizations agree that a healthy vegetarian diet or a plant-based diet is beneficial, whether you’re following a strict vegetarian diet or not.
“Evidence also suggests that a healthy vegetarian diet is associated with a lower risk of death from specific heart diseases, and those that follow a healthy vegetarian diet tend to have lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.” says Engel.