Discuss this statement using evidence from epidemiological studies. Prepare this assignment according to the guidelines found in the APA Style Guide. An abstract is required. The benefits of wholesome vegetarian diet over diets containing meat and other foods of animal origin are due to lower intakes of saturated fat, cholesterol and animal protein, higher intakes of complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, magnesium, folic acid, vitamin C and E, carotenoids and other phytochemicals (Leitzmann 2005).
Diabetes prevalence is relatively low among individuals following plant-based and vegetarian diet. This is because these diets are low in fat and high in fiber and thus cause associated reductions in dietary energy density and energy intake (Howarth 2001). Barnard et al (2006) investigated the effects of low-fat vegan diet on glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors in individuals with type 2 diabetes and found that such a diet had significant clinical improvements in the glycosylated hemoglobin levels, weight, body-mass index, waist circumference, total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. However, in this study, the participants also followed strict exercise regime, making it difficult to attribute the results to diet alone. Another study by Barnard et al (2005) investigated the effects of vegetarian diet on similar aspects but without including exercise regime. The researchers concluded that this diet was associated with significant weight loss and improved glycemic and lipid control in type 2 diabetic patients. A low fat vegetarian diet delays glucose absorption, reduces fasting serum glucose levels of as much as 6–27%, lowers insulin requirements by as much as 40%, increases peripheral tissue insulin sensitivity, improves serum lipid profile by 10-32%, aids in weight control and lowers blood pressure (Segasothy and Phyllips 1999).
Elevated total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol are risk factors for coronary artery disease. Since vegetarian diet keeps these lipids under control, it can be said that this diet helps reducing the risk for coronary artery disease.