Looking for a reason to switch over to a vegetarian diet? How about a smaller waistline? A new study from Loma Linda University has found that, not only do vegetarians live longer than their meat-eating peers, they also tend to have lower BMIs. Surprisingly, this fact holds true even when vegetarians and non-vegetarians eat the exact same amount of calories.
This study, which was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutritional and Dietetics, collected data from 71,757 participants over the course of five years. The men and women were separated into five categories – meat-eaters, semi-vegetarians (occasional meat-eaters), pescatarians, lacto-ovo-vegetarians (vegetarians who eat dairy and eggs) and vegans.
Although all participants ate roughly 2,000 calories per day, researchers found that meat-eaters were significantly more likely to be overweight than the other groups, particularly vegans. Of the vegan participants in the study, only 9.4% were obese. This number rose to 24% for semi-vegetarians, 17.9% for pesco-vegetarians and 16.7% for lacto-ovo-vegetarians. Meat-eaters topped with scale with 33.3% classifying as obese.
Because all participants had a similar caloric intake, researchers credit the source of the calories for the differences in weight. Meat-eaters consumed the smallest amount of plant proteins, beta carotene, fiber and other important nutrients while also eating the highest amount of the fatty acids linked to heart disease.
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