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Vegetarian diet lowers homocysteine

EDMOND, OKLAHOMA. A high blood level of homocysteine has been linked to an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease. There is abundant evidence that high homocysteine levels can be lowered by supplementing with folic acid. Now researchers at the Lifestyle Center of America report that adopting a healthier lifestyle including eating an exclusively vegetarian diet can result in very significant reductions in homocysteine levels.

The study involved 40 participants who were part of a vegan diet- based lifestyle program. This program included a vegan diet, moderate physical exercise, stress management and spirituality enhancement sessions, group support, and exclusion of tobacco, caffeine, and alcohol. The participants were not provided with supplements of folic acid or other B vitamins.

After one week on the program the average homocysteine level among the participants had dropped by 13 per cent (from 8.66 micromol/L to 7.53 micromol/L). The drop was particularly impressive among the participants who had a high homocysteine level to begin with. Participants with a starting level higher than 9.5 micromol/L (mean of 11.3 micromol/L) showed a 19 per cent drop and patients with coronary artery disease a drop in excess of 20 per cent (these patients also had high homocysteine levels to begin with). The researchers conclude that a one-week vegan diet-based lifestyle program can result in a significant decrease in total homocysteine level.
DeRose, David J., et al. Vegan diet-based lifestyle program rapidly lowers homocysteine levels. Preventive Medicine, Vol. 30, March 2000, pp. 225-33

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