Consuming a form of vegetarian diet, which includes eggs and dairy but excludes meat and fish, may be just as effective as a Mediterranean diet in reducing the risk of heart diseases and stroke, researchers have claimed.
A lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet is a kind of vegetarian diet that includes animal products such as eggs and dairy products but excludes the intake of meat and fish.
A Mediterranean diet, meanwhile, includes the consumption of poultry, fish and some red meat as well as fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains.
“The take-home message of our study is that a low-calorie lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet can help patients reduce cardiovascular risk about the same as a low-calorie Mediterranean diet,” said lead author Francesco Sofi, Professor at the University of Florence in Italy.
“People have more than one choice for a heart-healthy diet,” Sofi added.
The study, published in the journal Circulation, found that a vegetarian diet was more effective at reducing LDL (the “bad”) cholesterol, while the Mediterranean diet resulted in greater reductions in triglycerides, high levels of which increase the risk for heart attack and stroke.
The research included 107 healthy but overweight participants, between 18 and 75 years of age, who were randomly assigned to follow for three months either a low-calorie vegetarian diet, which included dairy and eggs, or a low-calorie Mediterranean diet for three months.
The results showed that people on either diet had lost about four pounds of their weight overall, along with a three-pound loss of body fat.
They also experienced the same change in body mass index, a measure of weight in relationship to height.