Sarah M. Davis and Catherine A Casella
Dr. Denise Smith
Early markers of cardiovascular disease have not been compared between vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Therefore the purpose of this study was to compare healthy male vegetarians and non-vegetarians for plasma homocysteine levels, platelet function and endothelial function.
Subjects were placed into one of two groups, vegetarians(n=6, mean age 47.2 ± 4.8 years) or non-vegetarians (n=18, mean age 45.6 ± 6.4 years). All testing was completed after a 12 hour fast between 7am and 11am. The order of procedures was randomized and included a blood draw, finger stick, and blood flow test.
Homocysteine was significantly higher in the vegetarians than the non-vegetarians (9.0 ± 0.8 µmol/L vs. 7.7 ± 1.3 µmol/L, respectively; p_ 0.017). However, no significant differences were observed between the two groups when platelet function was compared (vegetarians: 124.7 ± 32.3 mg/dL, non-vegetarians: 121.6 ± 32.3 mg/dL). Maximal blood flow tended to be greater in the vegetarians than in the non-vegetarians, although this difference did not achieve statistical significance (vegetatians = 26.4 ± 9.3% per min., non-vegetarians = 19.1 ± 5.8% per min.; p = 0.12.
Vegetarians had higher homocysteine levels than non-vegetarians, but their cardiovascular risk, assessed by endothelial function and platelet function, did not increase. To the contrary, there was a trend for maximal blood flow to be greater in the vegetarians than in the non-vegetarians.
CREATIVE THOUGHT MATTERS
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