Some Vegetarian Diets Are Much Healthier Than Others

THURSDAY, August 27, 2020 (HealthDay News) – For a multitude of reasons, millions of people around the world are deciding to give up meat and focus on a plant-based diet.

But new research from Greece reminds us that not all vegetarian diets are healthy, especially for people who are already obese.

“The quality of plant-based diets varies,” concluded a team led by Matina Kouvari from Harokopio University in Athens.

Presenting at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) virtual meeting on Thursday, his team assessed the diets of 146 randomly selected obese people in Athens, who had normal blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and who did not had no heart disease yet.

Their diet was assessed using a questionnaire on their typical eating habits from the previous year. He asked about 156 foods and drinks commonly consumed in Greece.

Within 10 years, nearly half of the participants had developed high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and high blood sugar – a combination that was particularly risky for the heart.

However, diets focused on healthier plant-based foods were associated with normal blood pressure, blood lipids, and blood sugar. These “healthier” vegetarian options included whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, olive oil, and tea / coffee, as well as foods prepared with the least processing.

On the other hand, unhealthy plant-based foods – items such as juices, sugary drinks, refined grains (for example, white bread and pasta), potatoes, and all kinds of sweets – were associated with the development of arterial hypertension, hypertension. cholesterol and high blood sugar, the team found.

“This finding was most evident in women,” Kouvari said in an ESC press release. “Previous research has shown that women tend to eat more plant-based foods and less animal products than men. But our study suggests that this does not guarantee healthier food choices and therefore better health. “

Most diet studies define plant-based diets simply as “vegetarian” or “low in meat,” meaning that all plant foods are considered equal, the researchers noted. But “our study highlights the varying nutritional quality of plant foods,” Kouvari said.

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Jothi Venkat

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