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Vegetarian diet slashes risk of heart disease, researchers find

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Vegetarians are much less likely to suffer from serious heart disease than their carnivorous counterparts, British researchers have found.

A University of Oxford study analyzed 45,000 volunteers from England and Scotland, recruited in the 1990s and tracked until 2009.

"The results clearly show that the risk of heart disease in vegetarians is about a third lower than in comparable non-vegetarians," co-author of the study and university professor Tim Key said in a statement.

After years of analysis, researchers concluded the risk of hospitalization or death from heart disease is 32 percent lower in vegetarians than people who eat meat and fish.

"Most of the difference in risk is probably caused by effects on cholesterol and blood pressure, and shows the important role of diet in the prevention of heart disease," lead author Francesca Crowe said.

The study took into account factors such as age, smoking, alcohol intake, physical activity, educational level and socioeconomic background, and recorded the blood pressure and cholesterol levels of participants.

Overwhelmingly, researchers found that vegetarians had lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and body mass indices than non-vegetarians.

Click for more from news.com.au.