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Omega-3s And B12 May Reverse Vegans' Elevated Heart Risk

by Tanya Thomas on February 3, 2011 at 10:18 AM
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 Omega-3s And B12 May Reverse Vegans' Elevated Heart Risk

People who follow a vegan lifestyle — strict vegetarians who try to eat no meat or animal products of any kind — may increase their risk of developing blood clots and atherosclerosis or "hardening of the arteries," which are conditions that can lead to heart attacks and stroke. That's the conclusion of a review of dozens of articles published on the biochemistry of vegetarianism during the past 30 years. The article appears in ACS' bi-weekly Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Duo Li notes in the review that meat eaters are known for having a significantly higher combination of cardiovascular risk factors than vegetarians. Lower-risk vegans, however, may not be immune. Their diets tend to be lacking several key nutrients — including iron, zinc, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fatty acids. While a balanced vegetarian diet can provide enough protein, this isn't always the case when it comes to fat and fatty acids. As a result, vegans tend to have elevated blood levels of homocysteine and decreased levels of HDL, the "good" form of cholesterol. Both are risk factors for heart disease.

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It concludes that there is a strong scientific basis for vegetarians and vegans to increase their dietary omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12 to help contend with those risks. Good sources of omega-3s include salmon and other oily fish, walnuts and certain other nuts. Good sources of vitamin B12 include seafood, eggs, and fortified milk. Dietary supplements also can supply these nutrients.



Source: Eurekalert
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