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Vegetarians Live Longer Than Meat-Eaters, Study Finds

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK, June 3, 2013 (Wall Street Journal): Vegetarians live longer than meat-eaters, according to a study published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, a Journal of the American Medical Association. The authors tracked 73,308 members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church for almost six years. The church is known for promoting a vegetarian diet, though not all of its followers adhere to that teaching. Researchers found out what type of diet participants ate, then followed up to find out how many of those participants had died and how. Vegetarians in the study experienced 12% fewer deaths over the period. Dietary choices appeared to play a big role in protecting the participants from heart disease, from which vegetarians were 19% less likely to die than meat-eaters. There also appeared to be fewer deaths in the vegetarian group from diabetes and kidney failure.

WSJ’s Shirley Wang reports on a new study showing that eating plant-based fat and proteins such as peanuts and soy milk is far more effective in lowering bad cholesterol than a diet low in saturated fats. Also 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, Dr. Orlich says.

Loma Linda University is a Seventh-day Adventist institution specializing in health care. The church recommends a diet with “generous use of whole-grain breads, cereals and pastas, a liberal use of fresh vegetables and fruits, a moderate use of legumes, nuts and seeds,” according to a statement on its website. The study published Monday was funded by the National Institutes of Health. When adopting a vegetarian lifestyle, nutritionists recommend watching closely to make sure the intake of key nutrients is sufficient. These include iron and zinc, frequently found in meat, and calcium and vitamin B12. Roughly 5% of Americans consider themselves to be vegetarians, according to a survey published last year by Gallup.

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