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Mediterranean and Vegetarian Diets May be Equally Effective for Weight Loss, Heart Health

A recent study suggests that following a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet or a Mediterranean diet may be equally effective for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. A lacto-ovo vegetarian diet includes eggs and dairy, but excludes meat and fish. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes eating primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts, replacing butter with healthy fats such as olive oil and canola oil and using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor food.


Participants in the study included 107 healthy but overweight people between the ages of 18 and 75 who were instructed to either follow a low-calorie lacto-ovo vegetarian diet, including dairy and eggs, or a low-calorie Mediterranean diet for three months. After three months, the participants switched diets.


At the conclusion of the study, the researchers found that participants following both diets lost approximately three pounds of body fat, lost approximately four pounds of weight overall, and had similar changes in body mass index (BMI).


There were two differences between the diets, however. The vegetarian diet group showed greater reductions in LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, while the Mediterranean diet group showed greater reductions in triglycerides.


Researcher from Onlua Instituto di Ricerca e Cura a Caretere Scientifico in Italy conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on February 26, 2018, in the journal Circulation.


In addition to improved weight management, previous research has linked vegetarian diets with lower incidence of hypertension, obesity, and type-2 diabetes. If you decide to switch to a vegetarian diet, consult a nutritionist to make sure you’re getting all of the proper nutrients. Many vegetarians choose to complement their diets with high quality supplements.


Previous research has shown that the Mediterranean diet and other similar diets may improve heart health, lower the risk of diabetes, asthma, lower rates of obesity and possibly even decrease the overall risk of mortality.

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