UNITED KINGDOM, January 30, 2013 (BBC): Ditching meat and fish in favour of a vegetarian diet can have a dramatic effect on the health of your heart, research suggests. A study of 44,500 people in England and Scotland showed vegetarians were 32% less likely to die or need hospital treatment as a result of heart disease.
Differences in cholesterol levels, blood pressure and body weight are thought to be behind the health boost. The findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The results showed the vegetarians had lower blood pressure, lower levels of "bad" cholesterol and were more likely to have a healthy weight.
Heart disease is a major blight in Western countries. It kills 94,000 people in the UK each year - more than any other disease, and 2.6 million people live with the condition.
Tracy Parker, from the British Heart Foundation, said: "This research reminds us that we should try to eat a balanced and varied diet - whether this includes meat or not. "But remember, choosing the veggie option on the menu is not a shortcut to a healthy heart. After all, there are still plenty of foods suitable for vegetarians that are high in saturated fat and salt.