Vegetarian diet prevents heart disease, hypertension, cancer, diabetes and osteoporosis

What effect does a vegetarian diet have on health problems and serious illnesses?

Nutrition affects our health and contributes to the development of degenerative diseases such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Meat consumption, insufficient intake of fruits and vegetables, obesity and high cholesterol levels are concomitant factors in the development of these diseases. A balanced vegetarian diet is one of the easiest ways to prevent disease by following a healthy diet of five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, high in complex carbohydrates and antioxidants, and low in saturated fat and cholesterol. A balanced vegetarian diet is typically lower in calories and higher in fiber, so it can help maintain a healthy weight.

Vegan and vegetarian diets contain essential nutrients if carefully planned. The British Dietetic Association and the American Dietetic Association have compiled guidelines for a healthy vegetarian diet.

Ischemic heart disease and mortality

The largest study ever conducted in the UK comparing rates of heart disease among vegetarians and non-vegetarians found that vegetarianism can reduce the risk of heart disease by 32%. This study also found that meat eaters were 47% more likely to develop cardiovascular disease.

The Adventist Health Study tracked the association between vegetarian diets and reduced mortality and found that vegetarians, vegans, and pesco-vegetarians were 12% less likely to die over a six-year follow-up than non-vegetarians. Vegetarian men had more benefits than women, including a significant reduction in the development of cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease.


Soluble fiber helps keep cholesterol levels in check, and a balanced vegetarian diet contains twice the fiber of the national average. Soy foods and nuts have been shown to be especially helpful in lowering cholesterol.

Hypertension (high blood pressure)

High blood pressure is one of the important factors in the development of heart disease and stroke. An increase of 5 mm Hg. diastolic blood pressure increases the risk of stroke by 34% and cardiovascular disease by 21%. The study reported a lower prevalence of hypertension among vegans compared to meat eaters.


Cancer is the number one killer in the world, and diet is responsible for approximately 30% of all cancers in developed countries. The 2012 Adventist Health Study assessed the association between different types of vegetarian diet and overall cancer incidence. Statistical analysis showed a clear association between vegetarianism and a lower risk of cancer. Moreover, all types of cancer. Vegetarians have shown a reduced risk of stomach and colon cancers, and vegans are less likely to develop female cancers.

The World Cancer Research Foundation describes meat eating as a “convincing” risk factor for colon cancer and highlights the involvement of red meat and processed meat in increasing the risk of colon cancer.

High temperature cooking of meat (eg barbecuing, grilling and frying) is associated with an increased risk of cancer, thought to be due to the formation of potentially carcinogenic substances (eg heterocyclic amines).


Diabetes is often associated with high blood cholesterol levels, but a vegetarian diet can help lower blood cholesterol levels. Soy foods and nuts, rich in plant-based proteins and slow-digesting, low-glycemic carbohydrates, may help prevent and control type 2 diabetes.


Osteoporosis is a complex disease characterized by low bone mass and destruction of bone tissue, leading to increased bone fragility and a greater risk of fractures. Studies investigating the relationship between vegetarianism and bone density have come up with conflicting results. However, a meat-free diet results in a reduced intake of sulfur-containing amino acids, and low acidity may reduce bone loss in postmenopausal women and protect against osteoporosis.  





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