If you want to live longer, you could dabble in cryonics, hire Dick Cheney’s medical team, or, more realistically, pass on the meat and live the life of a vegetarian.
A recent study concluded that vegetarians were less likely to die from heart disease, diabetes, or kidney failure than were those who ate meat.
Researchers tracked more than 70,000 American members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which promotes clean living and vegetarianism, though not all followers shun meat. The scientists noted the subjects’ diets and recorded the causes of 2,570 deaths during the six-year study.
Overall, the vegetarians were 12 percent less likely to die during the study. The results were published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
Caloric intake didn’t seem to matter. The different participant groups generally ate around the same amount of calories daily. Researchers found that the beneficial associations weren’t related to energy intake.
The advantage appeared stronger in men than women, whose diet didn’t seem to make as much of a difference. Eating plant foods didn’t seem to protect participants against cancer, which struck both the vegetarians and non-vegetarians in roughly equal measure.
Researchers don’t know why a plant-based diet seems to have a protective effect, but one likely reason is the nutrient profile of vegetarian diets, which tend to be higher in fiber and lower in saturated fat. Vegetarians tend to be thinner, another factor known to have an effect on health outcomes, [lead author Michael] Orlich says.
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