A vegetarian diet could cut your risk of heart disease by a third, according to a new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Vegetarians are more likely to eat more fruit and vegetables
A study of 45,000 volunteers has shown that vegetarians are 32 per cent less likely to be admitted to hospital or die from heart disease than meat eaters.
Coronary heart disease is the biggest killer in the UK, causing around 94,000 deaths every year. The disease cannot be cured, and has to be managed with a combination of lifestyle changes, medication and surgery.
Researchers followed the participants for more than 11 years, a third of which were vegetarians. At the start of the study, the volunteers answered questions about their health and lifestyle, and almost half had their blood pressure and cholesterol measured.
By 2009 at the end of the study, there had been 1235 cases of heart disease. The researchers found that only 4.6 per cent of vegetarians were admitted to hospital or died from the condition, compared with 6.8 per cent of meat or fish eaters.
Study authors say that the main reason for the difference was the lower levels of harmful cholesterol and blood pressure in the vegetarians. Factors like body weight were found to make little difference to the risk.
Vegetarians generally eat more fruit, vegetables, whole grains and cheese, and are more likely to benefit from low salt intake, low levels of saturated fats and high levels of polyunsaturated fats. Study leader Dr Francesca Crowe said:
"Obviously a vegetarian diet is one way to have a low intake of saturated fat, but the main message here is that diet is a very important determinant of heart disease risk”.
There are several ways you can reduce your risk of developing coronary heart disease, and a low-fat, high-fibre diet is a key one. The NHS website recommends including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as regular exercise.
Heart bypass surgery in a private hospital in the UK will cost around £20,000, but many private medical insurance quotes allow you to add heart cover to your policy for an additional premium.
This will ensure that if you are diagnosed with a heart condition you are covered for private surgery, routine clinical care and post treatment care, as well as access to the latest drugs and treatments.
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