Individuals sticking to a vegetarian lifestyle and avoiding meat or animal product consumption possibly face a heightened threat of being diagnosed with blood clots and atherosclerosis or ‘hardening of the arteries.’ Such conditions can supposedly lead to heart attacks and stroke. A latest research suggests that the threat of heart attack and stroke can be avoided by the intake of vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids.
Though non-vegetarians have a remarkably higher combination of cardiovascular risk factors, lower-risk vegetarians may not be immune. Their diet probably lacks a number of vital nutrients, namely iron, zinc, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fatty acids. In spite of appropriate protein content, fat and fatty acids do not seem to be consumed in adequate amounts. Hence, vegetarians supposedly have raised blood levels of homocysteine and declined HDL, commonly known as the ‘good’ cholesterol. Both homocysteine and HDL are considered as probable risk factors for heart diseases.
Duo Li and colleagues suggest that vegetarians can increase their intake of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12 to keep heart risks at bay. Salmon and other oily fish, walnuts as well as certain other nuts are known to be good sources of omega-3s. On the other hand, seafood, eggs, and fortified milk are rich in vitamin B12 content.
The research is published in ACS’ bi-weekly Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.