According to Virginia Messina, MPH, RD, coauthor of The Vegetarian Way, a plant based diet, low in saturated fat and high in fiber, antioxidant vitamins, and a powerful array of protective chemicals, is the ultimate prescription for a longer, healthier life.
Research studies show that vegetarians have lower rates of cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and obesity than meat eaters. British researchers say vegetarians have a 20% lower risk of fatal heart disease and a 40% lower risk of cancer.
A vegetarian diet has shown to cut the risk of breast, colon, ovarian, and prostate cancers in a number of studies.
Nearly 40 years ago, a large study of 27,530 individuals provided the first scientific link between vegetarian diets and a better health. Researchers were amazed to discover that among the vegetarians in the study, death rates from cancer were 50 to 70% lower than among other Americans.
Since then, study after study has confirmed the benefits of vegetarian eating. The magical ingredients include a slew of cancer fighting phytochemicals. The naturally lower levels of saturated fat in most vegetarian diets (except those who rely heavily on cheese) sidestep a problem inherent in meat rich diets: Diets high in saturated fat seem to promote the production of a form of estrogen called estradiol, which is linked to breast cancer. In one study, women who ate the most animal fats had a one third higher risk of breast cancer than those who ate the least. And another study found that vegetarians have higher levels of “natural killer cells,” special white blood cells that attack cancer cells in their bloodstream.
Turning to an alternative way of eating, such as the vegetarian diet, has been on the rise in America since the early 90s, more and more meat eaters are substituting their bacon and beef, for a plant based diet.