One of the first pieces of dietary advice we learn is that fruit & vegetables = good, and fat = bad. It's why your mum practically force-fed you every last bit of broccoli on the plate before you were allowed anywhere near a bowl of ice cream, it's why the government launched a campaign to promote eating your '5-a-day', and it's why an apple a day is said to keep the doctor away.
By that same logic, you might think cutting delicious fatty meat dishes out of your diet, and replacing them with big steaming plates of vegetables would be beneficial to your health. However, according to a controversial new study, you'd be mistaken.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news for all you veg-heads out there, but a new study, conducted by the Medical University of Graz in Austria found that low consumption of saturated fat and cholesterol, due to a higher intake of fruits, vegetables, seemed to carry a higher risk of cancer, allergies and mental health problems.
Using data obtained from the Austrian Health Interview Survey, researchers examined the dietary habits and lifestyle differences between meat-eaters and vegetarians.
Researchers matched 1320 subjects according to their age, sex, and socioeconomic status. These included 330 vegetarians, 330 who ate meat but still consumed a lot of fruit and veg, 300 regular eaters who ate less meat, and 330 heavy meat-eaters.
Results indicated that despite the vegetarians drinking less alcohol and having lower BMI, they were still in worse physical and mental condition than their meat-eating counterparts.
Subjects who ate less meat were also found to have adverse health habits, such as avoiding going to the doctors.
It concluded: "Our study has shown that Austrian adults who consume a vegetarian diet are less healthy (in terms of cancer, allergies, and mental health disorders), have a lower quality of life, and also require more medical treatment."
Some have claimed that the study is a façade for a meat industry advertisement.
Study coordinator and epidemiologist Nathalie Burkert told The Austrian Times: "We have already distanced ourselves from this claim as it is an incorrect interpretation of our data.
"We did find that vegetarians suffer more from certain conditions like asthma, cancer and mental illnesses than people that eat meat as well, but we cannot say what is the cause and what is the effect.
"There needs to be further study done before this question can be answered."
Source: The Independent
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