NEW YORK – A vegetarian diet may help people, particularly men, live longer than those who regularly eat meat, according to a study of more than 70,000 Seventh-Day Adventists.
Researchers followed the participants for an average of six years. During that period, vegetarians, including those who also added seafood or dairy and egg products to their diet, had an average 12 percent lower chance of dying from any cause than meat-eaters, according to the findings published Tuesday in JAMA Internal Medicine. The study also found that male vegetarians were less likely to die from heart disease than nonvegetarians, while there were no similar results in women.
Vegetarian diets have been associated with a reduction in chronic diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease, the researchers said. The latest findings confirm earlier studies that show the health benefits of eating a vegetarian diet, said Michael Orlich, the study’s lead author.
It’s not clear whether avoiding red meat and processed meats plays a role in boosting life spans or whether the foods that vegetarians are eating lowers their risk of dying compared with nonvegetarians, said Orlich, an assistant professor of preventive medicine at Loma Linda University, a Seventh-Day Adventist institution in Loma Linda, California. He said he is planning a study to help identify which foods are explaining these results.