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Changing from a mixed to self-selected vegetarian diet – influence on blood lipids


A. F. Hackett,
Faculty of Education,
Community Studies and Leisure, Liverpool John Moores University,
Barkhill Road,
Liverpool, L17 6BD, UK.
Tel.: +44 (0)151 231 5266
Fax: +44 (0)151 231 5357


Objective  To observe any changes in serum concentrations of lipids, when UK meat-eaters switch to a self selected vegetarian diet for 6 months.

Design  Observational study using capillary blood samples and 3-day estimated dietary diary.

Setting  Free-living subjects in the North-West of England.

Subjects  Twelve male and 31 female adult volunteers aged between 18 and 42 years.

Outcome measures  Serum lipids; nutrient intake and anthropometric measurements at baseline and 6 months after switching to a self-selected vegetarian diet.

Results  Total energy intake and amount of energy derived from saturated fatty acids decreased significantly after changing to a vegetarian diet (P < 0.05) whereas energy derived from carbohydrate, and intakes of nonstarch polysaccharide intake increased. On switching to a vegetarian diet, total cholesterol and triacylglycerol concentrations were not significantly changed, but HDL-C was 21% higher than at baseline (1.21 mmol L−1 vs. 1.47 mmol L−1; P = 0.001).

Conclusions  These results suggest that beneficial changes to diet occurred on changing to a self-selected vegetarian diet. Changing to a self-selected vegetarian diet appears to be one way of achieving a better blood lipid profile.