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.
Outbreak linked to heavy rains which encourage mosquito breeding
UN report warns that without measures to halt and reverse climate change, food production could become impossible in large areas of the world
It called for a "broad-based transformation of food and agricultural systems" to adapt to a warmer world, with an emphasis on supporting small shareholders.
A pre-COP22 ministerial meeting will be held in Morocco ahead of the conference to be held in Marrakech in November
Nearly 30-hour operation performed on 13-month-old boys
Among the world's wealthier regions, North America had the worst healthy life expectancy at birth for both men and women.
Diminishing coal in the energy mix must become a government policy in EU towards a low carbon economy: European think-tank
'Developing countries should be given access to nuclear power,' says International Atomic Energy Agency director
More people in the world are obese than underweight
Epipen maker Mylan has agreed to pay $465 million to the US government
3 of 4 transplants from living donors removed; scientists hope remaining transplant successful
Air monitoring station clocks dangerously high levels of smog
EU ministers have agreed to ratify the landmark Paris climate agreement
The man in the western state of Utah became ill after helping to take care of his 73-year-old father, who was hospitalized in June with Zika after being infected during a trip to his native Mexico.
Children in Kenya make up 10 percent of all tuberculosis cases
Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said 12 cases of Zika had been detected across the Philippines this month, including a 22-year-old woman from the central island of Cebu who is 19 weeks' pregnant with her first child.