This study was undertaken to determine if African-American strict vegetarians (vegans) exhibit lower blood pressure (BP) and a more favourable serum lipid profile than their lacto-ovo vegetarian (LOV) counterparts, and if plasma ascorbic acid (AA) concentrations could explain any group differences in these cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors. Habitual dietary intake, anthropometric characteristics, blood pressure, and blood lipids and ascorbic acid concentrations were determined in African-American study participants (male vegans, n = 14, age = 45.6 years; male LOV, n = 49, age = 49.8; female vegans, n = 31, age = 51.1, female LOV, n = 94, age = 52.1) recruited from Seventh-Day Adventist Churches in several cities in the northeastern United States.
Body mass index (BMI) was significantly lower in the vegans (24.7 +/- 1.9 kg/m2) compared to LOV (26.4 +/- 0.45 kg/m2). Serum total cholesterol (3.75 +/- 0.12 vs. 4.51 +/- 0.10 mmol/L), LDL-cholesterol (2.06 +/- 0.13 vs. 2.65 +/- 0.09 mmol/l), and triglycerides (0.94 +/- 0.07 vs. 1.17 +/- 0.04 mmol/L) were significantly (p < 0.05) lower in vegans compared to LOV, but there were no dietary group differences in HDL-C. The ratio of total to HDL-cholesterol was significantly lower in vegans than in LOV (3.0 +/- 0.13 vs. 3.7 +/- 0.13).
Cardiovascular disease risk factors are lower in African-American vegans compared to lacto-ovo-vegetarians