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Vegetarians have less metabolic syndrome

April 14, 2011 at 8:15 PM

LOMA LINDA, Calif., April 14 (UPI) -- Vegetarians have lower prevalence of metabolic syndrome -- a precursor to heart disease and diabetes -- than non-vegetarians, U.S. researchers say.

Metabolic syndrome involves having three or more of the following -- blood pressure equal to or higher than 130/85 millimeters of mercury; fasting blood sugar equal to or higher than 100 milligrams per deciliter; large waist circumference [for men, 40 inches or more, for women 35 inches or more]; low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol [for men, under 40 mg/dL, for women, under 50 mg/dL; and triglycerides equal to or higher than 150 mg/dL.

The study examined more than 700 adults -- 35 percent were vegetarians -- randomly selected from Loma Linda University's long-term study of the lifestyle and health of almost 100,000 Seventh-day Adventists across the United States and Canada.

On average, the vegetarians and semi-vegetarians were 3 years older than non-vegetarians, but despite the older age, the vegetarians had lower triglycerides, glucose levels, blood pressure, waist circumference and body mass index.

In addition, semi-vegetarians had a significantly lower body mass index and waist circumference compared to those who ate meat more regularly.

"I was not sure if there would be a significant difference between vegetarians and non-vegetarians, and I was surprised by just how much the numbers contrast," lead researcher Nico S. Rizzo of Loma Linda University says in a statement.

The findings are publishes in the journal Diabetes Care.

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