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Vegetarian diet serves up a host of health benefits, research shows

Vegetarian diet serves up a host of health benefits, research shows.  Bad news for meat lovers who want to eat healthier meals. A vegetarian diet – especially one that relies on high-quality foods – is linked to a host of health benefits, new research shows.

A collection of reports on the perks of a plant-based diet will be presented at Nutrition 2018, the first flagship meeting for the American Society for Nutrition, held at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston from June 9 to 12.

Among the posters, papers and presentations:

  • Getting protein from plants rather than animals is linked to a lower risk of coronary heart disease. A study of 6,000 people in the Netherlands over 13 years found that those who are more plant protein and avoided animal-derived protein had a lower risk of heart disease. Kim V.E. Braun of Erasmus University Medical Center will share a poster presenting the study’s findings from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday in the convention center auditorium. Vegetarian diet serves up a host of health benefits, research shows


  • Choosing better-quality, plant-based foods is associated with a lower risk of death. Fang Fang Zheng of Tufts University will present a study of nearly 30,000 U.S. adults that found the quality of the food people eat may affect the lifespan. Those who chose higher quality plant-based foods saw a 30-percent lower mortality rate, while quality of animal-derived food didn’t seem to affect mortality, the study found. The presentation will be held from 8 to 8:15 a.m. Monday in Room 311 of the convention center.
  • Eating a healthy, vegetarian diet is linked to healthy weight. A study of more than 125,000 adults over four years found that eating a plant-based diet made up of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts was associated with less weight gain, according to Ambika Satija of the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. Unhealthy plant-based foods, like fries and refined grains, were connected to weight gain, the study found. It will be presented from 4:45 to 5 p.m. Sunday in Room 209 of the convention center.

Other posters and presentations will share how a plant-based diet appeared to reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes among South Asians living in the U.S., how vegetarian diets are associated with a lower risk of plaque in the arteries in a Brazilian study, and more.

The findings are preliminary, and the abstracts selected didn’t go through the same peer-review process that most scientific journals provide, the organizers noted. Still, the new research backs up dozens of similar studies in recent years. Over the past few months, studies have found vegetarian diets to be healthy and affordable, as well as better for the environment – at least, when diners choose organic and whole foods rather than sweets and processed food items.

Founded in 1928, the American Society for Nutrition publishes four peer-reviewed journals each year, brings together nutritional researchers, medical professionals and other leaders, and provides education and professional development opportunities.

By Kyla Cathey, staff writer

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