Research: LI

Listed in Issue 245


LI,  Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, 310058,  China.


A vegetarian diet generally includes plenty of vegetables and fruits, which are rich in phytochemicals, antioxidants, fibre, magnesium, vitamins C and E, Fe³⁺, folic acid and n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA), and is low in cholesterol, total fat and saturated fatty acid, sodium, Fe²⁺, zinc, vitamin A, B₁₂ and D, and especially n-3 PUFA.


Mortality from all-cause, ischemic heart disease, and circulatory and cerebrovascular diseases was significantly lower in vegetarians than in omnivorous populations.


Compared with omnivores, the incidence of cancer and type 2 diabetes was also significantly lower in vegetarians. However, vegetarians have a number of increased risk factors for non-communicable diseases such as increased plasma homocysteine, mean platelet volume and platelet aggregability compared with omnivores, which are associated with low intake of vitamin B₁₂ and n-3 PUFA.


Based on the present data, it would seem appropriate for vegetarians to carefully design their diet, specifically focusing on increasing their intake of vitamin B₁₂ and n-3 PUFA to further reduce already low mortality and morbidity from non-communicable diseases.


Li D. Effect of the vegetarian diet on non-communicable diseases. J Sci Food Agric. 94(2):169-73. Jan 30 2014. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.6362. Epub Oct 2 2013.


The above research documents the effects of vegetarian diets upon major health conditions, demonstrating significantly lower mortality rates from all-cause, heart disease, circulatory and cerebrovascular disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes. However there were increased risk factors for other conditions associated with low intake of vitamin B₁₂ and n-3 PUFA.

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