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DAN'S PAPERS, March 14, 2008 Page 67

Health, Beauty & Fitness The Value of Going Veggie

Photo by Beth Kennedy

The never-ending slew of recalls of tainted meat over the past few years, including last month’s record-breaking recall of 143 million pounds of beef, would be enough to turn most people vegetarian. However, there are many other health benefits that might make someone trade in a hamburger for a soy burger. Two-and-a-half percent of all Americans are some form of vegetarian, says the American Dietetic Association. The most common are lacto-ovo-vegetarians, who avoid meat and fish, but include dairy and eggs in their diet. Vegans are more extreme, shunning all animal products, including dairy and eggs. A well-balanced vegetarian diet offers a wide range of health benefits. In a 2003 article in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, the ADA said that vegetarian diets have low levels of saturated fats and cholesterol, and high levels of fiber, potassium, folate, magnesium and antioxidants. The article also said that “vegetarians have been reported to have lower body mass indexes than non-vegetarians, as well as lower rates of death from ischemic heart disease, lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and prostate and colon cancer.” In 2005, a team of doctors from the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota linked heart disease, the leading cause of deaths in the United States, to high-protein, meat-based diets, concluding that vegetable-based proteins are much

better for the heart. In fact, people who eat only proteins from plants, such as soy products, beans and nuts, and cut meat from their diets entirely, are 30 percent less likely to die from heart disease, the study found. Vegetarianism has also been linked to lowering cholesterol, one of the leading causes of heart disease. While meat, dairy and eggs raise cholesterol, a vegetarian diet can not only lower it, but also help to declog arteries. The high fiber of a vegetarian diet helps to break down plaque build-up. A study by Dr. Dean Ornish placed patients with clogged arteries on a strict vegetarian diet, as well as moderate exercise. Ornish found that after a year, the plaque build-up in the arteries of about 80 percent of these patients began to dissolve, thus avoiding the neces-

sity of surgeries and medication. Vegetarians are also less likely than meateaters to become obese or overweight, due to low caloric and fat intakes and high fiber intake. Animal-based diets are generally higher in fat, while calories from plant-based foods burn quicker. For that reason, meat-eaters are three times more likely than vegetarians and nine times more likely than vegans to become obese, said Dr. Deborah Wilson. “It’s possible to be an overweight or obese vegan, of course, just as it’s possible to be a thin meat-eater, but adult vegans are, on average, 10 to 20 pounds lighter than adult meateaters,” she said. Many doctors also encourage cancer patients to adopt a vegetarian diet. While there is no miracle cure for the disease, studies have shown that certain nutrients found in cruciferous vegetables, a family of plants that include broccoli, Brussels sprouts and kale, are associated with decreasing the risk of breast, prostate, cervical, colon, and other cancers. They can also reduce the size and growth of tumors. Doctors also suggest that cancer patients eat more raw fruits, vegetables and seeds. There are myriad, well-documented health benefits from adopting a vegetarian lifestyle. Many vegetarians also often say they feel lighter, have more energy and get sick less frequently. So, with a plantbased diet, you may not only be saving some of our furry and feathered friends, but could also be saving yourself. – Tiffany Razzano

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Dan's Papers Mar. 14, 2008  

Dan's Papers, the 51-year-old bible of the Hamptons, is owned by Manhattan Media, a multi-media publishing company based in New York City,...