The risk of hospitalisation or death from heart disease is 32% lower in vegetarians than people who eat meat and fish, according to a new study from the University of Oxford.
This is the largest study ever conducted in the UK comparing rates of heart disease between vegetarians and non-vegetarians.
The analysis looked at almost 45,000 volunteers from England and Scotland enrolled in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)-Oxford study, of whom 34% were vegetarian. Such a significant representation of vegetarians is rare in studies of this type, and allowed researchers to make more precise estimates of the relative risks between the two groups.
'Most of the difference in risk is probably caused by effects on cholesterol and blood pressure, and shows the important role of diet in the prevention of heart disease,' explains Dr Francesca Crowe, lead author of the study at the Cancer Epidemiology Unit, University of Oxford.
My wife and I have been pescatarian (albeit not strictly vegetarian) for more than two decades, but for animal rights reasons, not specifically for health reasons. Still, it is good to know that saving the lives of animals might help to save your own life as well.