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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Vegetarian Diets Are Associated with Selected Cardiometabolic Risk Factors among Middle-Older Aged South Asians in the United States.

  • Author(s): Jin, Y
  • Kanaya, AM
  • Kandula, NR
  • Rodriguez, LA
  • Talegawkar, SA
  • et al.

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Background:Following a vegetarian diet is considered to be beneficial for overall health and is associated with a lower risk of chronic disease. Objective:This study examined whether South Asians in the United States who consume a vegetarian diet have a lower prevalence of cardiometabolic risk factors. Methods:Data from the Mediators of Atherosclerosis in South Asians Living in America study, which included 892 South Asians (47% women), age range 40-83 y with mean ± SD age 55 ± 9.4 y, were used. Participants were classified as vegetarian if they reported no consumption of meat, poultry, or fish in the previous year on a validated and culturally appropriate food-frequency questionnaire. Adjusted linear and logistic regression models were used to examine associations of a vegetarian diet with cardiometabolic risk factors. Results:Thirty-eight percent of the cohort participants were classified as vegetarian. Vegetarians reported more frequent weekly eating occasions of whole grains (median frequency/wk: 10 compared with 9, P = 0.012) and beans and legumes (median frequency/wk: 8.5 compared with 5.1, P < 0.001), and less frequent weekly eating occasions of sweets and desserts (median frequency/wk: 1.9 compared with 2.3, P < 0.001). Consuming a vegetarian diet was associated with lower body mass index (P = 0.023), fasting glucose (P = 0.015), insulin resistance (P = 0.003), total cholesterol (P = 0.027), and LDL cholesterol (P = 0.004), and lower odds of fatty liver (OR: 0.43; 95% CI: 0.23, 0.78, P = 0.006). The odds of having any coronary artery calcium were lower for vegetarian men (OR: 0.53; 95% CI: 0.32, 0.87, P = 0.013); however, no significant associations were observed among women. Conclusions:Among US South Asians, a vegetarian diet was associated with fewer cardiometabolic risk factors overall and with less subclinical atherosclerosis among men.

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