While not the best option for those who have a fondness for meat, vegetarianism could have benefits for cardiovascular health, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The Atlantic released a follow up article.
In this analysis, which Oxford researchers described as the the largest study ever in the U.K. about the long term effects of vegetarianism compared to eating meat, the eating habits of 45,000 individuals were monitored. Approximately 34 percent of those refrained from eating any meat or fish. The hospitalizations, deaths, blood pressure and cholesterol levels of these participants were tracked over the course of the 11 years of the study. During this period of time, vegetarians displayed a 32 percent less chance of developing heart disease, and a 28 percent reduced risk of having an unhealthy body mass index or diabetes.
“It’s a very good study,” William Abraham, M.D., director of the cardiovascular medicine division at Ohio State University, who was not involved with the study, told ABC News. “It’s further evidence that vegetarian diets are associated with a lesser risk of developing ischemic heart disease or coronary artery disease.”
He went on to state that significantly lower intake of saturated fat and sodium of a vegetarian diet lessens the odds of heart disease.
St. John Providence Health System cardiologist Peter McCullough, M.D, told the news source that saturated fat leads to more cholesterol production than anything else people normally consume. In addition, unhealthy amount of sodium in a diet is not good for blood pressure.
Government agency pushes for granola bars in schools
While meat has been known to contain its fair share of sodium and saturated fat, the same could certainly be said for some chocolate products. Hoping to improve the nutritional habits of our nation’s youth, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is proposing to remove the candy bars from public school snack machines and replace them with granola. These actions are being taken as part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which mandates that the USDA create standards for foods sold in schools, aside from lunches which are already regulated. In addition to other goals, the agency is hoping these new rules could lead to weight loss for some American children.
“Good nutrition lays the groundwork for good health and academic success,” announced Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Providing healthy options throughout school cafeterias, vending machines and snack bars will complement the gains made with the new, healthy standards for school breakfast and lunch so the healthy choice is the easy choice for our kids.”
Experts applaud USDA proposal
According to a follow up report from Bloomberg, vending machine foods would be held to the same nutritional regulations as regular meal food. Most of the snacks sold in the machines would have to contain less than 200 calories.
The news provider spoke with Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, who noted that these proposals may result in taxpayers getting more of what they’re paying for in regards to school lunches. He speculates that taxpayers would prefer that their money go towards healthier foods in schools.
Jessica Donze Black, director of the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project, also voiced her approval of the steps taken by the USDA. She noted that a lot of American students consume as much as 50 percent of their daily calories during the school day.
The USDA’s regulations on school food wouldn’t apply to anything students bring from home or somewhere else outside the school, nor would they apply to anything served at after school events, fundraisers or similar activities, noted Bloomberg. Commentators have 60 days to register their thoughts on the rule before it goes into effect.