Story at a glance:
- More than 175,000 British adults were examined.
- Cholesterol intake is a reason vegetarians are healthier.
- Red and processed meat is linked to heart diseases and some cancers.
Preliminary research suggests that vegetarians are healthier than meat-lovers across a number of key biomarkers.
Scientists at the University of Glasgow in Scotland examined more than 175,000 British adults, revealing that those with a plant-based diet "had a more favourable biomarkers profile" than meat-lovers when controlling for factors like their age, weight, ethnicity, smoking habits, and how much alcohol they consumed, according to the study poster.
The team factored in 19 different biomarkers in preventing cancer, heart and age-related diseases, as well as other chronic conditions.
One of the reasons why vegetarians had better biomarker levels than meat lovers is their cholesterol intake from their diets.
"Vegetarians had 'significantly lower' levels of 13 key biomarkers. Those include total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein 'bad' cholesterol, and a hormone that encourages the growth and proliferation of cancer cells." "Vegetarians also had lower levels of beneficial biomarkers including 'good' high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol."
Participants between the ages of 37 and 73 had their blood and urine reviewed from 177,723 samples, and within five years, their diets did not change.
“Our findings offer real food for thought,” study leader Carlos Celis-Morales wrote in a media release. “As well as not eating red and processed meat which have been linked to heart diseases and some cancers, people who follow a vegetarian diet tend to consume more vegetables, fruits, and nuts which contain more nutrients, fiber, and other potentially beneficial compounds.”
Correction: This story was updated on May 25, 2021 with a new headline and text explaining the relationship between smoking and drinking in the story.
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