Attenuated associations between increasing BMI and unfavorable lipid profiles in Chinese Buddhist vegetarians.
ABSTRACT Obesity is related to hyperlipidemia and risk of cardiovascular disease. Health benefits of vegetarian diets have well-documented in the Western countries where both obesity and hyperlipidemia were prevalent. We studied the association between BMI and various lipid/lipoprotein measures, as well as between BMI and predicted coronary heart disease probability in lean, low risk populations in Southern China. The study included 170 Buddhist monks (vegetarians) and 126 omnivore men. Interaction between BMI and vegetarian status was tested in the multivariable regression analysis adjusting for age, education, smoking, alcohol drinking, and physical activity. Compared with omnivores, vegetarians had significantly lower mean BMI, blood pressures, total cholesterol, low density lipoprotein cholesterol, high density lipoprotein cholesterol, total cholesterol to high density lipoprotein ratio, triglycerides, apolipoprotein B and A-I, as well as lower predicted probability of coronary heart disease. Higher BMI was associated with unfavorable lipid/lipoprotein profile and predicted probability of coronary heart disease in both vegetarians and omnivores. However, the associations were significantly diminished in Buddhist vegetarians. Conclusions: Vegetarian diets not only lower BMI, but also attenuate the BMI-related increases of atherogenic lipid/ lipoprotein and the probability of coronary heart disease.
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ABSTRACT: This review examines whether there is evidence that a strict vegan diet confers health advantages beyond that of a vegetarian diet or overall healthy eating. Few studies include vegan subjects as a distinct experimental group, yet when vegan diets are directly compared to vegetarian and omnivorous diets, a pattern of protective health benefits emerges. The relatively recent inclusion of vegan diets in studies of gut microbiota and health allows us the opportunity to assess whether the vegan gut microbiota is distinct, and whether the health advantages characteristic of a vegan diet may be partially explained by the associated microbiota profile. The relationship between diet and the intestinal microbial profile appears to follow a continuum, with vegans displaying a gut microbiota most distinct from that of omnivores, but not always significantly different from that of vegetarians. The vegan gut profile appears to be unique in several characteristics, including a reduced abundance of pathobionts and a greater abundance of protective species. Reduced levels of inflammation may be the key feature linking the vegan gut microbiota with protective health effects. However, it is still unclear whether a therapeutic vegan diet can be prescribed to alter the gut microflora for long-term health benefits.Nutrients 11/2014; 6(11):4822-4838. DOI:10.3390/nu6114822 · 3.15 Impact Factor