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      Should dairy be recommended as part of a healthy vegetarian diet? Counterpoint

      The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

      American Society for Nutrition

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          Vegetarian diets: what do we know of their effects on common chronic diseases?

           Scott Fraser (2009)
          A number of studies have evaluated the health of vegetarians. Others have studied the health effects of foods that are preferred or avoided by vegetarians. The purpose of this review is to look critically at the evidence on the health effects of vegetarian diets and to seek possible explanations where results appear to conflict. There is convincing evidence that vegetarians have lower rates of coronary heart disease, largely explained by low LDL cholesterol, probable lower rates of hypertension and diabetes mellitus, and lower prevalence of obesity. Overall, their cancer rates appear to be moderately lower than others living in the same communities, and life expectancy appears to be greater. However, results for specific cancers are much less convincing and require more study. There is evidence that risk of colorectal cancer is lower in vegetarians and in those who eat less meat; however, results from British vegetarians presently disagree, and this needs explanation. It is probable that using the label "vegetarian" as a dietary category is too broad and that our understanding will be served well by dividing vegetarians into more descriptive subtypes. Although vegetarian diets are healthful and are associated with lower risk of several chronic diseases, different types of vegetarians may not experience the same effects on health.
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            A low-fat vegan diet improves glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors in a randomized clinical trial in individuals with type 2 diabetes.

            We sought to investigate whether a low-fat vegan diet improves glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Individuals with type 2 diabetes (n = 99) were randomly assigned to a low-fat vegan diet (n = 49) or a diet following the American Diabetes Association (ADA) guidelines (n = 50). Participants were evaluated at baseline and 22 weeks. Forty-three percent (21 of 49) of the vegan group and 26% (13 of 50) of the ADA group participants reduced diabetes medications. Including all participants, HbA(1c) (A1C) decreased 0.96 percentage points in the vegan group and 0.56 points in the ADA group (P = 0.089). Excluding those who changed medications, A1C fell 1.23 points in the vegan group compared with 0.38 points in the ADA group (P = 0.01). Body weight decreased 6.5 kg in the vegan group and 3.1 kg in the ADA group (P < 0.001). Body weight change correlated with A1C change (r = 0.51, n = 57, P < 0.0001). Among those who did not change lipid-lowering medications, LDL cholesterol fell 21.2% in the vegan group and 10.7% in the ADA group (P = 0.02). After adjustment for baseline values, urinary albumin reductions were greater in the vegan group (15.9 mg/24 h) than in the ADA group (10.9 mg/24 h) (P = 0.013). Both a low-fat vegan diet and a diet based on ADA guidelines improved glycemic and lipid control in type 2 diabetic patients. These improvements were greater with a low-fat vegan diet.
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              Potential contributions of food consumption patterns to climate change.

              Anthropogenic warming is caused mainly by emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, with agriculture as a main contributor for the latter 2 gases. Other parts of the food system contribute carbon dioxide emissions that emanate from the use of fossil fuels in transportation, processing, retailing, storage, and preparation. Food items differ substantially when GHG emissions are calculated from farm to table. A recent study of approximately 20 items sold in Sweden showed a span of 0.4 to 30 kg CO(2) equivalents/kg edible product. For protein-rich food, such as legumes, meat, fish, cheese, and eggs, the difference is a factor of 30 with the lowest emissions per kilogram for legumes, poultry, and eggs and the highest for beef, cheese, and pork. Large emissions for ruminants are explained mainly by methane emissions from enteric fermentation. For vegetables and fruits, emissions usually are
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
                American Society for Nutrition
                0002-9165
                1938-3207
                May 01 2009
                May 01 2009
                : 89
                : 5
                : 1638S-1642S
                Article
                10.3945/ajcn.2009.26736P
                © 2009

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