Recently a study from the Oxford University stated that a vegetarian is less likely to have heart disease by a third. I haven’t seen the official scholarly article, but have read some articles in the press, the best of which was from Reuters. The study showed evidence that “vegetarians are one-third less likely to to be hospitalized or die from heart disease than meat and fish eaters (Reuters).” The study tracked nearly 45,000 participants from Scotland and England beginning in the 1990’s. Over the study period, 1,086 of the subjects were hospitalized, 169 of which died. The study found that vegetarians were 32% less likely to have heart disease than meat-eaters. When weight was used, vegetarians had a 28% lower chance of heart disease.
What Questions Should We Ask?
While this study does point some “big fingers” at eating meat, I think we should step back a little. Meat-eaters had higher on-average cholesterol and blood pressure than vegetarians. Meat eater cholesterol was 222 mg/dL and 203 mg/dL for vegetarians. While looking into this further, both of those numbers are in the “borderline high” level for cholesterol, but the vegetarians were closer to being below 200 mg/dL, a good cholesterol level. The systolic blood pressure for meat eaters was 134 mm Hg and 131 mm Hg for vegetarians, both prehypertension. Prehypertension is when someone needs to make lifestyle changes in order to divert high blood pressure in the future.
The study felt these two numbers were the main cause for the heart problems seen in meat eaters.
I hate articles like this, not because they are wrong, but because they give us an excuse for why we have heart disease or any other diseases associated with obesity. We can all eat meat and be healthy, but rather we choose to eat more than what is recommended daily and make poor life choices. Did you know the daily recommended serving for meat is less than 4 oz. a day? I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t eat a 4 oz. steak when I go out to eat. Becoming a vegetarian is not the answer. I am currently working on managing my portion sizes and the type of food I am eating. Eventually I hope to throw in some exercise. These things are what I feel are important to my future health and well-being. Anyone, including vegetarians, can eat 500 calories worth of salad dressing on a salad. Meat is a convenient (and tasty) skape-goat, but I know it is not the reason for future health problems. The all-around food choices I am making today are what will affect my future health the most. I just hope I am making the right choices.