Vegetarian Journal Sept/Oct 1998
by Reed Mangels, Ph.D., R.D.
A Review of Recent Scientific Papers Related to Vegetarianism
UK Health Department Calls for Some to Decrease Consumption of Red and
In March 1998, the British Health Department recommended that those adults
eating more than the average amount of red and processed meat-especially
those eating a lot more-should reduce consumption in order to avoid cancer.
Average consumption of these products is around 90 grams (3 ounces) daily
with higher consumers eating 140 grams (4.5 ounces) or more per day.
Working Group on Diet and Cancer of The Committee on Medical Aspects
of Food and Nutrition Policy. 1998. The Nutritional Aspects of the Development
Women at High Risk for Breast Cancer May Benefit from Reducing Meat Intake
and Increasing Vegetable Intake
Researchers have found that oxidative DNA damage in blood may be
a marker for increased cancer risk. Healthy women who had a close relative
with breast cancer were examined to determine whether or not certain foods
were associated with oxidative DNA damage. Overall, meat intake was associated
with DNA damage and higher intake of vegetables was associated with lower
risk of DNA damage. There appeared to be more benefits from eating cooked
as compared to raw vegetables although the researchers speculate that this
may be due more to the type of vegetable that is usually eaten raw (like
lettuce) and not to the cooking process itself. They recommend that if
their results are confirmed in larger studies, women with a family history
of breast cancer should make specific dietary changes including reduced
meat intake and increased vegetable intake.
Djuric, Z., Depper, J.B., Uhley, V., et al. 1998. Oxidative DNA damage
levels in blood from women at high risk for breast cancer are associated
with dietary intakes of meats, vegetables, and fruits. J Am Diet Assoc;
But I Just Ate an Hour Ago!
Do certain protein sources have a more satiating effect? This was the question
which was asked by researchers in France and Belgium. They studied 12 subjects
who ate a lunch containing the same amount of calories, fiber, fat, and
carbohydrate but which had different protein sources. Subjects rated their
feelings of hunger and fullness for the next 8 hours and their energy intakes
were measured for 24 hours. Regardless of the protein source, there was
no difference in hunger feelings in the afternoon, nor did subjects in
one group eat any more than other subjects did over the next 24 hours.
The protein sources tested were egg, cow's milk, gelatin, soy, pea, and
wheat. So, protein source does not appear important in satiety as long
as calorie intake is similar.
Lang, V., Bellisle, F., Oppert, J-M., et al. 1998. Satiating effect
of proteins in healthy subjects: a comparison of egg albumin, casein, gelatin,
soy protein, pea protein, and wheat gluten. Am J Clin Nutr; 67:
Vegetarians Have Lower Risk of Dying from Heart Disease Than Non-Vegetarians
Data from 5 studies of vegetarians conducted in the US, the UK, and Germany
were combined and examined to see if vegetarians were more or less likely
to die from heart disease, stroke, and several kinds of cancer than were
non-vegetarians. More than 76,000 men and women aged 16-89 years were studied
an average of almost 11 years. The main finding of the study was that vegetarians
were much less likely than non-vegetarians to die from heart disease. This
was especially true in those subjects below age 65. The reduction in risk
was seen in those who had been vegetarian for more than 5 years. A vegetarian
diet was not associated with any reduction in risk of dying from stroke,
colorectal cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, or stomach
cancer although there were fewer deaths overall from cancer so the study
was not able to assess whether or not there was a moderate decrease in
deaths associated with vegetarianism. However, because of the large number
of subjects in this study, the results with respect to heart disease are
intriguing and point to a vegetarian diet as an important step in reducing
risk of dying from heart disease.
Key T.J., Fraser, G.E., Thorogood, M., et al. 1998. Mortality in vegetarians
and non-vegetarians: a collaborative analysis of 8300 deaths among 76,000
men and women in five prospective studies. Public Health Nutrition 1:33-43.
In 1986-87, more than 100 adolescents in non-urban Minnesota who
reported they were vegetarians were compared with non-vegetarian teens.
Nineteen percent of vegetarians were male and 81% were female. A higher
percentage of minority teens identified themselves as vegetarians than
did white teens.
Vegetarian teens were twice as likely to consume fruits or vegetables,
one third as likely to consume sweets, and one fourth as likely to eat
salty snack foods more than once a day. These were health supporting behaviors
by vegetarian teens.
On the other hand, vegetarian teens were more likely to practice dieting,
use laxatives, and exhibit other behaviors often linked to eating disorders.
While the frequency of these behaviors in this group of teens certainly
points to a need to check for adequate food intake in vegetarian teens,
we cannot conclude that vegetarianism was the cause of the disordered eating.
It is more likely that vegetarianism, in some teens, was just another way
to limit food intake.
Neumark-Sztainer, D., Story, M., Resnick, M.D., Blum, R.W. 1997. Adolescent
vegetarians. A behavioral profile of a school-based population in Minnesota.
Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med, 151:833-838.
Notes of Interest ...
The Centers for Disease Control recently released new recommendations to
prevent and control iron deficiency in the United States. They point out
that iron deficiency in infancy and early childhood can be prevented through
breastfeeding, use of iron-fortified formula, and appropriate consumption
of iron-rich foods (such as iron-fortified infant cereal). Consumption
of more than 3 cups of cow's milk daily after the first year of life increases
the risk of iron deficiency. MMWR 1998. 47[No. RR-3]:1-29.
Although adults in the US have dramatically lowered the percent of calories
from fat in their diets over the last 3 decades (from 45% of calories in
1965 to about 34% in 1995), there has been little change in total fat consumption
since 1989. This is because people are taking in more calories, largely
from increases in soft drinks, alcohol, and grain products. Thus, fat consumption
is not decreasing in the US among adults. USDA Center for Nutrition Policy
and Promotion, April, 1998.
The top five sources of calories for US adults are yeast bread, beef, cow's
milk, baked goods like cakes and cookies, and soft drinks. Top fat sources
are beef, margarine, salad dressings, cheese, and cow's milk. Top cholesterol
sources are eggs, beef, poultry, cow's milk, and cheese. Top fiber sources
are yeast bread, ready-to-eat cereal, dried beans, potatoes, and tomatoes.
Top iron sources are ready-to-eat cereal, yeast bread, beef, baked goods
like cakes and cookies, and pasta. J Am Diet Assoc 1998; 98: 537-547.
Excerpts from the Sept/Oct Issue
The Vegetarian Journal published here is not the complete issue,
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