New research suggests that when compared to their meat-eating counterparts, black vegetarians are at lower risk for developing heart disease. The results stem from a study over 26,000 black Seventh-day Adventists.
The Seventh-day Adventist church promotes healthy lifestyle choices including a vegetarian diet rich in fruit, whole grains and nuts. Consuming alcohol, smoking cigarettes or taking mind-altering drugs of any kind are also discouraged. The study compared the cardiovascular health of black Seventh-day Adventists who are vegetarians to those who eat meat. According to the findings, the vegetarians are less likely to develop heart disease.
“In our country, blacks typically have the worst health outcomes than most minority groups,” said study co-investigator Dr. Patti Herring, associate professor at Loma Linda University School of Public Health. “We’re dying of preventable diseases at high rates including heart disease and diabetes.”
The benefits of a vegetarian diet among this group appear to be multi-layered. The rates of hypertension, diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol were all significantly better than those who ate meat. Herring noted that vegans (who don’t consume any meat or dairy products) were also at lower risk for heart disease.
The study represents one of the largest to look at heart health in this population.
By Marianne Hayes