Vegan diet and blood lipid profiles: a cross-sectional study of pre and postmenopausal women

Yee-Wen Huang, Zhi-Hong Jian, Hui-Chin Chang, Oswald Ndi Nfor, Pei-Chieh Ko, Chia-Chi Lung, Long-Yau Lin, Chien-Chang Ho, Yi-Chen Chiang, Yung-Po Liaw
BMC Women's Health 2014 April 8, 14: 55

BACKGROUND: Vegan diet has been associated with lower risk of cardiovascular diseases and mortality, partly due to its effects on serum lipid profiles. Lipid profiles [high density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-C), low density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C) and triglycerides (TG)] have not been fully elucidated either in pre and postmenopausal vegans or in ovo-lacto vegetarians. This study aimed to compare lipid profiles among vegans, ovo-lacto vegetarians and omnivores.

METHODS: Demographic data and lipid profiles were obtained from the 2002 Taiwanese Survey on Hypertension, Hyperglycemia and Hyperlipidemia. Multivariate linear regression analysis was used to examine factors significantly and independently associated with different categories of veganism and to estimate the β value of lipid profiles in the dietary types.

RESULTS: A total of 2397 premenopausal and 1154 postmenopausal participants who did not receive lipid lowering drugs were enrolled. Premenopausal vegans had significantly lower HDL-C and higher TG, LDL-C/HDL-C, total cholesterol (TC)/HDL-C and TG/HDL-C compared with omnivores. For postmenopausal women, vegans had lower TC while ovo-lacto vegetarians were observed with low HDL-C when compared with omnivores. Multivariate linear regression analyses showed that vegan and ovo-lacto vegetarian diets decreased HDL-C levels in premenopausal women (β = -7.63, p = 0.001 and β = -4.87, p = 0.001, respectively). There were significant associations between lower LDL-C and ovo-lacto vegetarian diets (β = -7.14, p = 0.008) and also between TG and vegan diet (β = 23.37, p = 0.008), compared with omnivorous diet. Post-menopausal women reported to have consumed either a vegan or an ovo-lacto vegetarian diet were at the risk of having low HDL-C unlike those that consumed omnivorous diets (β = -4.88, p = 0.015 and β = -4.48, p = 0.047). There were no significant changes in LDL-C in both pre and postmenopausal vegans.

CONCLUSIONS: Vegan diet was associated with reduced HDL-C level. Because of its effects on lowering HDL-C and LDL-C, ovo-lacto vegetarian diet may be more appropriate for premenopausal women.

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