Bad news for meat lovers after 20 years of research

Bad news for meat lovers after 20 years of research

More than 20 years of research has shown that vegetarian and vegan diets are generally healthier than those including meat.

However, scientists caution against broad dietary recommendations given the limitations of previous studies.

Researchers involved with the new study looked at 48 papers published between January 2000 and June 2023 and analysed the data involving plant-based diets, cardiovascular health, and cancer risk.

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Their analysis showed that overall vegetarian and vegan diets have a strong association with better health status on a number of risk factors associated with cardiometabolic diseases, cancer, and mortality, such as blood pressure, management of blood sugar, and body mass index.

Such diets are associated with reduced risk of ischemic heart disease, gastrointestinal and prostate cancer, and death from cardiovascular disease.

“Our study evaluates the different impacts of animal-free diets for cardiovascular health and cancer risk showing how a vegetarian diet can be beneficial to human health and be one of the effective preventive strategies for the two most impactful chronic diseases on human health in the 21st century,” the authors said in a statement.

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However, among pregnant women specifically, those with vegetarian diets faced no difference in their risk of gestational diabetes and hypertension compared to those on non-plant-based diets.

Overall, these findings suggest that plant-based diets are associated with significant health benefits, the researchers said.

However, they noted the finding is significantly limited by the many differences between past studies, including the diets followed, patient demographics, study duration, and other factors.

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And some plant-based diets may introduce vitamin and mineral deficiencies in some people.

The researchers therefore cautioned against large-scale recommendation of plant-based diets until more research is completed.

The research has been published in the journal PLOS One.

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