[Nutritional status in adults on an alternative or traditional diet]

M Krajvcovivcová-Kudlávcková, E Ginter, P Blavzícvek, J Klvanová, K Babinská
Casopís Lékar̆ů C̆eských 2001 March 15, 140 (5): 142-6

BACKGROUND: Plant food lacks vitamin B12, vitamin D and higher n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Essential aminoacids methionine and lysine can be found in significantly lower amounts. On the contrary, the culinary and technologically non-processed plant food and whole-grain products contain essential nutrients in a highly condensed form. The aim of the study was to compare nutritional status of adults on alternative or on traditional diet and sequels of the diet to body metabolism.

METHODS AND RESULTS: The group on alternative diet consisted of 89 lacto-ovo-vegetarians (age 38.7 +/- 0.6 years, average duration of vegetarianism 7.8 years). Control group on traditional diet (omnivores, n = 84) was formed as an average sample. Nutritional regime was determined using dietetic questionnaire on the food intake regularity. Vegetarians consume optimal amount of fat (along with recommendations of OVD) with predominance of vegetal lipids. They have low intake of cholesterol (62.8 mg), recommended ratio of saturated fatty acids (SFA), monounsaturated (MUFA), and polyunsaturated (PUFA) 6.5:10.6:8.9 energetic percent. Their ratio of linolic:alpha-linolenic acid (10.4:1) also corresponds with recommendations. In traditional diet, the content of lipids and energy usually exceeds the norm of OVD (by 33% or 19% respectively), cholesterol intake is much higher (512.2 mg, 200 mg is recommended as a maximum). Higher is the amount taken of SFA (11.2 energetic %, recommended 7%), and not sufficient is the intake of alpha-linolenic acid (68% of OVD). People on alternative diet have low plasma levels of risk lipid parameters and significantly higher levels of antisclerotic substances. As a result of significantly higher intake of fruits and vegetables, plant oil, sprouts, seeds, and whole-grain food the plasma levels of antioxidative vitamins are in vegetarians higher then threshold. It reduces the risk of the free-radical disease. On the contrary, vegetarians have deficits in methionine intake, and 15% of them have hypoproteinemia is (0% in omnivores). Low plasma levels of iron and calcium, occurrence of hyposideremia (16% versus 2%) and hypocalcemia (21% versus 8%) corresponds with intake of vegetal absorption inhibitors (fytolic acid, oxalic acid, roughage). Frequently a mild form of hyperhomocysteinemia is found (28% versus 5%), resulting vitamin B12 deficit.

CONCLUSIONS: Vegetarian diet is optimal for prevention of free-radical diseases, especially those of the cardiovascular system. It may bring a risk from the point of view of low iron and calcium absorption, low intake of methionine and occurrence of mild forms of hyperhomocysteinemia. In traditional diet, total lipid content should be lowered, amount of vegetable oil with alpha-linolenic acid should be elevated as well as fruit and vegetable consummation. Whole grain food and oily seeds should be included into the daily food.

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