As more people choose to become vegetarian, interest grows around the health benefits of eating a plant-based diet.
A vegetarian diet is recognized to have significant health benefits such as a reduced risk of suffering from several types of cancer, a lower likelihood of being hospitalized for heart disease, a reduced risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, and a lower incidence of hypertension.
Vegetarians are also less likely to be overweight and obese.
The remainder of this article discusses the most common health benefits of adopting a vegetarian diet to decide for yourself whether it is the right choice for you.
What is a vegetarian diet?
A vegetarian diet does not include meat, poultry, or seafood, but animal products like egg and dairy.
You have a lower chance of developing several types of cancer
According to Harvard Medical School, there is evidence that eating lots of fruit and vegetables reduces the risk of developing certain types of cancer. It is also true that, on the whole, vegetarians are less likely to get cancer than non-vegetarians.
An Oxford Vegetarian Study found that people who eat fish had an even lower risk of getting cancer than vegetarians. However, if you eliminate eating red meat altogether, you’ll be much less likely to develop colon cancer. In this situation, whether or not you’re a vegetarian does not matter.
You have a lower risk of suffering from cardiac events
If you’re a vegetarian, you’ll be happy to know that there is a large amount of evidence to show that your diet makes you less likely to suffer from a cardiac event such as a heart attack.
A study of 65,000 people by the Oxford cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC-Oxford) found that vegetarians have a whopping 19% lower risk from heart disease than non-vegetarians.
Another study of more than 76,000 people, conducted at the Cancer Epidemiology Unit in Oxford, found that vegetarians were 24% less likely to die from heart disease.
The evidence is clear that cutting meat from your diet is better for your heart’s health.
You have a lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes
In a study by Loma Linda University, researchers from the Department of Health Promotion and Education, the Department of Epidemiology, and the Department of Cardiology found a substantial reduction in the incidence of diabetes in people who were vegetarians.
A Women’s Health Study at Harvard University also found that eating red meat, mainly processed meats such as sausages, hot dogs, and bacon, increased your risk of developing diabetes.
You have a lower risk of being overweight
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, people who follow a vegetarian diet are less likely to be overweight or obese. In addition, a plant-based diet is more likely to be lower in calories and saturated fats than the average American diet.
Vegetarians are also more likely to consume high levels of dietary fiber and beneficial vitamins and minerals.
You are more likely to have lower blood pressure
According to a study published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, vegetarians are more likely to lower blood pressure than people who eat meat.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, contributes to cardiovascular disease and kidney disease and is a significant factor in many causes of death.
Compared to diets with meat, plant-based diets are generally lower in salt, have fewer calories, have more potassium, reduce oxidative stress, and have an overall beneficial effect on the microbiome.
If you’re worried about your general health, switching to a plant-based diet is a great place to start.