World Bulletin / News Desk
Previous research has also suggested that non-meat eaters have fewer heart problems, said researchers publishing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, but it wasn't clear if other lifestyle differences, such as exercise and smoking habits, might also play into that.
"We're able to be slightly more certain that it is something that's in the vegetarian diet that's causing vegetarians to have a lower risk of heart disease," said Francesca Crowe, who led the new study at the University of Oxford.
Crowe and her colleagues tracked almost 45,000 people living in England and Scotland who initially reported on their diet, lifestyle and general health in the 1990s. At the start of the study, about one-third of the participants said they ate a vegetarian diet, without meat or fish.
Over the next 11 to 12 years, 1,086 of the study subjects were hospitalized for heart disease, including heart attacks, and 169 died.
After taking into account participants' ages, exercise habits and other health measures, the research team found vegetarians were 32 percent less likely to develop heart disease than carnivores. When weight was factored into the equation, the effect dropped slightly to 28 percent.
The lower heart risk was likely due to lower cholesterol and blood pressure among vegetarians in the study, the researchers said.
Meat eaters had an average total cholesterol of 222 mg/dL and a systolic blood pressure - the top number in a blood pressure reading - of 134 mm Hg, compared to 203 mg/dL total cholesterol and 131 mm Hg systolic blood pressure among vegetarians.
Diastolic blood pressure - the lower number - was similar between the two groups.
Crowe said the difference in cholesterol levels between meat eaters and vegetarians was equivalent to about half the benefit someone would see by taking a statin medication.
The effect is probably at least partly due to the lack of red meat - especially meat high in saturated fat - in vegetarians' diets, she added. The extra fruits, vegetables and higher fiber in a non-meat diet could also play a role.
However, just scaling back on saturated fat can also make a difference. Butter, ice cream, cheeses and meats all typically contain saturated fat.
The reason for the high-level threat in the area is the presence there of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which carry the Zika virus that health authorities say causes birth defects in newborns
Three-day African Utility Week conference begins in South African city of Cape Town
More than two thousand activists came together to close an opencast coal mine in Germany.
New federal rules unveiled on Thursday will tackle the release of the greenhouse gas methane from oil wells and equipment as part of an effort to fight climate change.
At least five reef islands in the remote Solomon Islands have been lost completely to sea level rise and coastal erosion
Heads of UN, Work Bank lay out vision to deal with climate change
Turkish environment minister signs historic agreement in New York against taking action against climate change
Human defense mechanisms could be disrupted by the presence of a class of organic pollutants in fish and other food, according to new research.
'The time has come to treat childhood stunting as a development and an economic emergency,' World Bank Group head says
Obese population hits all-time high with a new studying finding that obesity can be predicted in babies
New research factors in collapsing Antarctic ice sheet that could double the sea-level rise to two metres by 2100 if emissions are not cut
Temperatures in the first two months of 2016 followed a year that broke 'all previous records by a wide margin'
Researchers at MIT may have made an important breakthrough in the fight against Alzheimer’s Disease.
Human immune system could be steered towards fighting cancerous tumors, researchers find
Data released on UN world wildlife day shows overall population is still falling despite a recent reduction in levels of poaching for ivory
Google will donate $1mn to help UNICEF map Zika outbreaks