Ask Dr. Nandi which is healthier: Being a vegetarian or eating a Mediterranean diet?

(WXYZ) - We often hear how the Mediterranean diet is great for our heart but a new study showed a vegetarian diet is also protective when it comes to heart health.  

Researchers in Italy recruited 100 participants. Everyone spent 3 months on the Mediterranean diet and 3 months on a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet. 

Now you likely know the Mediterranean diet includes foods like whole grains, lean protein like chicken and fish, olive oil, nuts and lots of produce.  It’s light on processed and refined foods and red meat.  

The lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet doesn’t have meat or fish but does include eggs, dairy, complex carbohydrates and legumes. 

The study found both these diets were effective at preventing heart disease but in different ways.  

The vegetarian diet helped drop bad LDL cholesterol while the Mediterranean diet dropped triglycerides. Now if you have high levels of triglycerides, that can increase your heart attack and stroke risks.

So this research seems to have found another option when it comes to choosing a heart-healthy diet.  

For other ways to help keep your heart healthy, here are my prescriptions:

  1. Avoid tobacco products as they’re all bad for your arteries and heart. And be careful of secondhand smoke as that can be toxic as well.
  2. Try to be physically active every day – aim for 30 minutes. Any movement is way better than none but do try to build up your stamina over time.
  3. Watch your alcohol – one drink a day for women, and one to two drinks a day for men.
  4. Keep a healthy weight. Being heavy can make your heart work harder and raises your risk for heart disease.

And speaking of weight, you’ll be happy to know that participants in this study lost about the same amount of weight on both the Mediterranean and vegetarian diet.  Roughly four pounds overall. 

 Just another great incentive to try out these healthy diets and protect your heart at the same time.

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