Which Diet Actually Helps You Live Longer?

Most of us would just love to eat a burger right now, but before you take your next bite out of your burger, keep in mind that you may want to put it down. Scientists in California analyzed the diets of 73,300 people and found that vegetarians were less likely to die from any cause compared to those who ate meat. Researchers examined data from 73,308 men and women over the age of twenty-five and found that vegetarian diets reduce many causes of death, such as heart disease, kidney-related deaths, and endocrine disease. A 2013 study of more than 70,000 people found that vegetarians had a 12% lower risk of death compared to non-vegetarians.

The vegetarian diet can help prevent cancer, diabetes, and asthma. In addition, it can lower blood pressure. One serving of processed meat per day increased the risk of developing diabetes by 51%. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, so Americans may want to switch to a vegetarian diet. Vegetarianism is even connected to improving mood, according to researchers at Benedictine University. Croatia’s Institute for Medical Research and Occupational Health found lower levels of neuroticism, which is a fundamental personality trait, in vegetarians. Vegetarianism not only provides significant health benefits, but also helps preserve Earth’s natural resources.

If you went strictly by the facts, vegetarians do live longer based on the data. But one of the most basic concepts of research states that correlation does not prove causation. The actual cause of vegetarians living longer may not be their diet. So let’s not completely say bye to all kinds of meat. Rebecca Solomon, a nutritionist at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, gave the meat lovers some credit. She believes that the plant-based diet is beneficial with a good nutrient balance. Too many carbohydrates and fats from plants may also not be good because it causes one to gain weight.

This is where the Mediterranean diet comes into play. Solomon states that, “Eating lean protein such as poultry and fish and following some of the principles of the Mediterranean diet, which includes generous amounts of vegetables, fruits and whole grains and is not red-meat heavy, can be very beneficial.” In a Mediterranean diet, eating fish and seafood is recommended at least twice a week. The Mediterranean diet was ranked high as one of the best heart-healthy diets; more specifically, it was ranked the best diabetes diet, scoring 3.7 out of 5. Red meat should be avoided in the Mediterranean diet because its high in saturated fat and raises cholesterol levels.

(Photo via Eatingwell)

Overall, there are many benefits to the “right” kinds of meat. When we consume healthy animals we become healthy ourselves. Non-processed meats are healthy because the food itself is the only ingredient. Grass-fed beef require fewer antibiotics because they don’t get a lot of bacterial infections and parasites. Lastly, small fish offer high levels of omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fats help lower blood pressure and prevent heart disease.

After reading this article you may be asking yourself, “So who really wins, the vegetarians or the meat lovers?” Well, how about we take the best of both worlds and explore diets such as the Mediterranean diet!

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