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Heart Disease: Pros and Cons of Vegetarian Diet

By    |   Friday, 29 Jul 2016 08:42 PM

A vegetarian diet has components that help reduce the risk of heart disease. However, people who decide to practice a plant-based diet need to include nutrients for the heart and overall health.

Vegetarian diets can vary, the American Heart Association explains. A total vegetarian diet includes heart-healthy fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Other vegetarian diets may allow dairy products or poultry and fish.

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Diets that omit animal fats decrease saturated fat and cholesterol, which reduces the risk of heart disease as well as high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity, which can contribute to heart problems.

Iron and vitamin B-12 are necessary nutrients that come from red meat, liver, and dairy products. In a diet that doesn't allow for these, the protein in animal fat needs to be replaced. Nutritional substitutes include died beans, spinach, dried fruits, and fortified cereals.

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While there can be substitutes for protein in a vegetarian diet, meat and fish contain the amino acids necessary for dietary sulfur. The lack of animal protein increases the risk of sulfur deficiency, which could adversely affect metabolism and other processes in the body, says Dr. Joseph Mercola, an osteopathic physician who focuses on preventive health care. Low intake of sulfur amino acids could result in high blood levels of homocysteine, leading to clots in the arteries, heart attack, and stroke.

However, a 2012 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that vegetarians had a 32 percent lower risk of developing ischemic heart disease than meat and fish eaters. Ischemic heart disease involves inadequate blood flow that leads to heart attacks and chest pain from angina.

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A vegetarian diet has components that help reduce the risk of heart disease. However, people who decide to practice a plant-based diet need to include nutrients for the heart and overall health.
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Friday, 29 Jul 2016 08:42 PM
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