Vegetarian diets can help prevent chronic diseases, American Dietetic Association says

July 4, 2009

j0177958[1]The American Dietetic Association has released an updated position paper on vegetarian diets that concludes such diets, if well-planned, are healthful and nutritious for adults, infants, children and adolescents and can help prevent and treat chronic diseases including heart disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes.

ADA’s position, published in the July issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, represents the Association’s official stance on vegetarian diets:

It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life-cycle including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood and adolescence and for athletes.

ADA’s position and accompanying paper were written by Winston Craig, PhD, MPH, RD, professor and chair of the department of nutrition and wellness at Andrews University; and Reed Mangels, PhD, RD, nutrition advisor at the Vegetarian Resource Group, Baltimore, Md.

The revised position paper incorporates new topics and additional information on key nutrients for vegetarians, vegetarian diets in the life cycle and the use of vegetarian diets in prevention and treatment of chronic diseases. “Vegetarian diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle,” according to ADA’s position. “There are many reasons for the rising interest in vegetarian diets. The number of vegetarians in the United States is expected to increase over the next decade.”

Vegetarian diets are often associated with health advantages including lower blood cholesterol levels, lower risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure levels and lower risk of hypertension and type 2 diabetes, according to ADA’s position. “Vegetarians tend to have a lower body mass index and lower overall cancer rates. Vegetarian diets tend to be lower in saturated fat and cholesterol and have higher levels of dietary fiber, magnesium and potassium, vitamins C and E, folate, carotenoids, flavonoids and other phytochemicals. These nutritional differences may explain some of the health advantages of those following a varied, balanced vegetarian diet.”

The position paper draws on results from ADA’s evidence analysis process and information from the ADA Evidence Analysis Library to show vegetarian diets can be nutritionally adequate in pregnancy and result in positive maternal and infant health outcomes. Additionally, an evidence-based review showed a vegetarian diet is associated with a lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease.

The American Dietetic Association is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals.

http://www.eatright.org/cps/rde/xchg/ada/hs.xsl/media_22003_ENU_HTML.htm

2 Responses to “Vegetarian diets can help prevent chronic diseases, American Dietetic Association says”


  1. Dear Annie Richardson,

    I had not seen this “Food Democracy” blog page before; it is essential from my point of view for getting the word out. For me, not only do we need nutritionally valuable food, but we also need awareness that health starts at the cell level.

    A book I have recently written highlights this perspective and I want to draw it to your attention, as you may be interested in it. The title is “Soul Talk With Cells: What We Really Want Is To Play” and information is available at http://www.strategicbookpublishing.com/soultalkwithcells.html If you have any questions, I am most willing to offer my views on this topic.

    Flora Sue Gardner


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