by Angie Smith

With today’s growing trend of unhealthy lifestyles and health issues like obesity, heart disease, and breast cancer, it is no wonder that the availability vegetarian products are on the rise. Most supermarkets have started carrying items like soymilk and vegetarian alternatives to meat because all types of people, not only vegetarians, are interested in buying them. Family physicians have promoted eating more fruits and vegetables for years, but it is the growing number of deaths which are diet-related that has now prompted many people to begin to change their eating habits.

In a recent article by ABC News, the correlation between an increased amount of body fat and cancer of the breast was shown to be high. Studies have brought to life how the average American diet is excessive in calories and fat, especially saturated fat, which you find in all meat and dairy products. It went on to say that a diet high in fat or calories that results in an increase in body fat may promote breast cancer by increasing levels of hormones, which in turn raises estrogen levels. High estrogen levels are a trigger for breast cancer because it is an “estrogen dependent” cancer.

Most diets that contain more plant products are usually lower in fat because of the elimination of all of the saturated fat that comes from meat. While fat is an important part of everyone’s diet as a source of energy, most fat should be consumed from unsaturated sources, like avocados. So in general, women who follow these diets tend to be thinner and have less potential for the synthesizing of estrogen in fat tissue, and in turn they have less potential for breast cancer.

The article went on to talk about how emphasizing of a vegetarian-type diet could not only help to reduce the chances of breast cancer by helping to reduce body fat, but could also increase a person’s intake of necessary vitamins and nutrients. If a person were to increase the amount of complex carbohydrates they ate, for example, they would be increasing their intake of fiber, vitamins, minerals and nutrients known as antioxidants, and antioxidants are believed to help in the prevention of many cancers.

In another article by ABC News, Cyril Kendall, PhD, a research associate in the department of nutritional science at the University of Toronto, spoke about how beneficial a vegetarian diet was in the fight against heart disease, which is the number one killer in North America . She pointed out the fact that if we were to look at the human evolution over the past 10 million to 15 million years, we were predominantly vegetarian. She said that the great apes of present day are for the most part eating a vegetarian diet, and that in turn humans were designed for basically a fruit, nut and vegetable diet.

Kendall said that they conducted a study to see how diet affects a person’s percentage of LDL, or the “bad” cholesterol in the body. They had one group eat a diet that was low in saturated fat and cholesterol and included about seven servings of fruit and vegetables per day along with some key foods like raw almonds and sources of soluble fiber. And then they compared it to a healthy diet which included statins, which are cholesterol reducing drugs. In both cases, a significant reduction of LDL was observed in two weeks and proved how powerful a person’s diet can be in maintaining their health. But she noted that a person would have to continue the mostly vegetarian diet if they wanted to keep the levels of LDL low because they can shoot up as quickly as they come down.

Footnotes: 

Sources:

Haran, Christine."Eat like an Ape," 2003 Healthology, Inc. 2003 ABCNEWS Internet Ventures.

Grossman, Fran R.D., M.S., C.D.E., C.D.N. 2001 Healthology, INC. 2003 ABCNEWS Internet Ventures. "Reducing your risk of breast cancer: How your diet affects your risk."

"How many adults in the US are vegetarian and vegan?" 2016 Vegetarian Resource Group.