Meatless Every Day? New Report Says Vegetarians Have Lower Risk of Heart Disease

Posted on 3. 15. 17 | By Vida Vibrante | 1:26 am | Updated 1:26 pm

vegetarian-paellaWe all know that we need to enjoy less meat and more vegetables. But now The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has confirmed that one less dish of pernil or grilled pollo, is one less risk of heart disease. In a study done with  the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)-Oxford Study, which began in England and Scotland in 1993, researchers sought to compare a range of diets and their impact on overall health. Thirty four percent of  the 44,561 people enrolled in the study were vegetarians.

“It’s a very good study,” Dr. William Abraham, who directs the division of cardiovascular medicine at Ohio State University, told ABC News. “It’s further evidence that vegetarian diets are associated with a lesser risk of developing ischemic heart disease or coronary artery disease.” While many doctors suggest a more vegetarian diet for patients who have already suffered from heart disease as a part of a post-heart-disease healthcare, Dr. Abraham says that the study proves  that a more vegetarian diet may help in preventing heart disease. The primary reason?  Most vegetarians (the ones who aren’t eating too much cheese) aren’t eating saturated fat. “Saturated fat is the single greatest dietary factor in the production of cholesterol,” says Dr. Peter McCullough, a cardiologist at St. John Providence Health System in Michigan. But rather than go from one extreme to another with your dietary habits, Dr. McCollough suggest selecting the right meats, using portion control and avoiding sugars, starches and saturated fats for a healthier heart. He suggests eating lean protein like fish as well as beans and nuts for additional protein, removing red and processed meats.

Heart disease is the number one killer of Hispanics in the U.S., says the American Heart Association. Among Mexican-American adults, 31.6% of men and 34.4% of women have cardiovascular disease.  So ready to try a meatless Monday dish? See this recipe below for a vegetable paella from our friends at


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, sliced into strips
2 bell peppers, sliced
1 small bulb fennel, core removed and sliced*
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 large bay leaf
1 cup no salt added diced tomatoes
1 cup brown rice*
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 1/2 cups boiling water
1 cup canned or frozen lima beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley, leaves only
8 Kalamata olives, pitted
1 clove garlic
1 lemon zested and juiced
*When prepping fennel, only use the white bulb. Discard the green stalks. If you can’t find it, you can add extra peppers and onions.


Make this a quick cook recipe: Use heat-and-eat brown rice, reduce hot water to 1/2 cup, and cook for 5 minutes before adding the lima beans.


Place a large saute pan over medium heat, then add the oil. Add the onions and peppers when the oil is hot and cook for four minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the fennel and garlic, and cook for another 2 minutes. Add all the spices and the bay leaf, and stir constantly for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, stir to combine, then add the vinegar and scrape the bottom to pull up any caramelized bits. Add the rice to mixture, stir and cook for one minute. Slowly add the boiling water to the pan, stir to combine. Raise the heat to medium-high, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 40 minutes. Stir in the lima beans, cook for 5 more minutes, then serve. Prepare pesto in food processor or by hand by chopping all ingredients together. Once rice is tender remove paella from heat, stir in pesto. Serve warm.

Serving Size: Makes 8 cups, 2 cups per serving



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