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Vegetarian and Mediterranean diets equally good for the heart

Tuesday February 27th, 2018

A Mediterranean diet and a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet are equally as good at reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke, according to a new research.

In the first study to compare the two diets, researchers from Italy recruited 107 healthy but overweight participants, ages 18-75, and they were randomly assigned to follow for three months either a low-calorie vegetarian diet, which included dairy and eggs, or a low-calorie Mediterranean diet, which included poultry, fish and a little red meat, for three months.

After three months, the participants switched diets. The results are published in the latest edition of Circulation.

The research team, led by Professor Francesco Sofi, and professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Florence and Careggi University Hospital, found that participants on either diet lost about three pounds of body fat, lost about four pounds of weight overall, and experienced about the same change in body mass index (BMI).

However, the authors say that the vegetarian diet was more effective at reducing LDL cholesterol, while the Mediterranean diet resulted greater reductions in triglycerides.

Prof Sofi said: “The take-home message of our study is that a low-calorie lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet can help patients reduce cardiovascular risk about the same as a low-calorie Mediterranean diet. People have more than one choice for a heart-healthy diet.”

The authors admit their study was limited because the participants had a “relatively low” risk of cardiovascular disease.

Sofi F, Dinu M, Pagliai G et al. Low-Calorie Vegetarian Versus Mediterranean Diets for Reducing Body Weight and Improving Cardiovascular Risk Profile CARDIVEG Study (Cardiovascular Prevention With Vegetarian Diet). Circulation 26 February 2018; doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.117.030088

Tags: Diet & Food | Europe | Heart Health

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