Do you love vegetables? What about fruit, nuts and seeds? Let's hope so. Study after study points to the naturally occurring health benefits of eating vegetables, fruits and other vegetarian fare. Of course, it may come as a surprise to many that processed foods, with all their healthy additives, don't quite match up. Except, of course, in quantities of sodium, sugars, and saturated fats.
The newest study points to a huge advantage for those with rheumatoid arthritis. A group of researchers from the Karolinska Institute found a vegan diet helps protect against both stroke and heart attack. People with rheumatoid arthritis are at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, including experiencing higher rates of heart attacks and strokes.
The study assessed the impact of a vegan diet on those with rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers followed two groups for a one-year period. One group ate a gluten-free vegan diet, consisting of vegetables, nuts, fruits, sunflower seeds, and various gluten-free grains. The control group ate a balanced diet that included gluten and meat.
At the end of the year the group eating a vegan diet showed some distinct advantages. First, their low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels were lower. LDL is the dreaded "bad" cholesterol, to be avoided at all costs. High levels of LDL are associated with cardiovascular disease. The veggie eaters also lost weight during the year. A healthy weight is one additional protection against heart disease and stroke. Finally, the vegans had lower levels of C-reactive protein, a measure of systemic inflammation linked with many diseases, including heart disease.
Be brave. The next time you're in the grocery, just ask. You'll be surprised - they have a whole aisle filled with stuff that doesn't come in boxes and cans.To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To learn more about vegan diets, see this from The Vegetarian Resource Group.