Vegetarian diets could help lower your cholesterol: study

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Life, Health

Find out why.

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Researchers reviewed 50 studies and found vegetarian diets helps lower your cholesterol, the Daily Mail reported.

Facts about cholesterol:

* A wax-like, fatty substance present in every cell in the body.
* Cholesterol build-up in the artery can cause reduced blood flow which can lead to angina.  
* The build-up can also cause a blood vessel to get blocked which can lead to heart attack.
* Movement prohibited of a vessel carrying blood to the brain can cause a stroke.
* Linked to diabetes and high blood pressure.
* Undiagnosed high cholesterol is especially severe if left untreated.
Cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease and vascular diseases.

To examine the studies, the team led by Dr. Yoko Yokoyama, from Keio University in Fujisawa considered vegetarian diets that include eating meat less than one a month.

They discovered "vegetarians had 29.2 milligrams less of total cholesterol per decilitre (one tenth of a litre) than meat-eaters", reported the Daily Mail. People who consumed meat, but followed a plant-based diet could lower their cholesterol by 12.5 milligrams per decilitre.

Why? Because people who follow a vegetarian diet usually ate more fruits nuts and greens which help lower their saturated fat intake. This means they are consuming foods that contain soluble fibre, soy protein, and plant sterols that help lower cholesterol.

Those particularly concerned with their heart health should begin consuming more greens. "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 are quoted as saying by Medical News Today.

Susan Levin is the director of nutrition education at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, D.C and co-author of the new research. Levin urges people to start taking care of their health and nutrition as soon 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," Levin told Medical News Today.

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