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Published On: Mon, Nov 6th, 2017

Vegetarian diets really DO lower your cholesterol

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By PHOEBE WESTON

Plant-based diets really do lower cholesterol, according to a review of nearly 50 studies.
Vegetarians generally eat more greens, fruits and nuts which means they have a lower intake of saturated fat, researchers found.
These foods are naturally rich in components such as soluble fibre, soy protein, and plant sterols (a cholesterol found in plants), all of which lower cholesterol.
High cholesterol is particularly dangerous as it often goes undiagnosed and therefore untreated.
It is associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease, strokes and vascular diseases.
The authors suggest eating more greens could be a good preventive care for people who might be concerned about their cardiovascular health – helping them to address the problem before it’s too late.
Vegetarians have lower cholesterol
Cholesterol is a fatty, wax-like substance, is present in every cell in your body.
Research led by Dr. Yoko Yokoyama, from Keio University in Fujisawa found vegetarians had 29.2 milligrams less of total cholesterol per decilitre (one tenth of a litre) than meat-eaters.
For the review, researchers took ‘vegetarian diets’ to mean a diet that includes eating meat products less than once every month.
For meat-eaters following a vegetarian diet could lower cholesterol by 12.5 milligrams per decilitre.
The findings were compared with an omnivorous, meat-inclusive diet.
If cholesterol builds up in your arteries it can result in reduced blood flow which causes angina or even a heart attack if a blood vessel gets blocked completely.

If a vessel carrying blood to the brain gets blocked you could have a stroke.
It has also been linked to diabetes and high blood pressure.
Vegetarians have healthier body compositions
The study looked into controlled trials and studies that looked at the effects of at least four weeks of vegetarian diet.
Of the 8385 studies identified, 30 observational studies and 19 clinical trials met the inclusion criteria.
‘Those [individuals] who have followed vegetarian dietary patterns for longer periods may have healthier body compositions as well as better adherence to a vegetarian diet, both of which may have an effect on blood lipids’, researchers wrote in the paper published in Medical News Today.
‘To make any form of health care work and to truly power economic mobility, we have to get healthy,’ said co-author Susan Levin, director of nutrition education at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, D.C.
LDL (low-density lipoprotein) — or ‘bad’ cholesterol, as it’s known — forms larger particles and collects in the lining of the arteries, potentially blocking them.
HDL (high-density lipoprotein), or ‘good’ cholesterol, is a smaller particle that has a positive role carrying away cholesterol from the peripheral tissues and helping to excrete it from the body.
Build meals around plant-based foods
Dr Levin said she encourages people to start being careful about nutrition as early as possible.
‘The first place to start is by building meals around nutrient-packed, plant-based foods, which fit into nearly every cultural template, taste preference, and budget’, she said.
‘As a dietitian, my take-home message is to encourage anyone to start making dietary changes early on in his or her life’, Dr Levin told Medical News Today.
‘It’s easier to maintain optimal health than it is to change your diet at age 60 or 75, although, to be clear, it’s never to late to make healthful lifestyle changes’.
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CHOLESTEROL

Cholesterol is a fatty, wax-like substance, is present in every cell in your body.
There are two main types of cholesterol.
LDL (low-density lipoprotein) — or ‘bad’ cholesterol, as it’s known — forms larger particles and collects in the lining of the arteries, potentially blocking them.
HDL (high-density lipoprotein), or ‘good’ cholesterol, is a smaller particle that has a positive role carrying away cholesterol from the peripheral tissues and helping to excrete it from the body.
Vegetarian diets were associated with 29.2 milligrams less of total cholesterol per decilitre (one tenth of a litre).

WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF HIGH CHOLESTEROL?

High cholesterol is associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease, strokes and vascular diseases.
If cholesterol builds up in your arteries it can result in reduced blood flow which causes angina or even a heart attack if a blood vessel gets blocked completely.
If a vessel carrying blood to the brain gets blocked you could have a stroke.
It has also been linked to diabetes and high blood pressure.

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