Blood pressure and blood lipid levels among vegetarian, semi-vegetarian, and non-vegetarian native Africans

A A Famodu, O Osilesi, Y O Makinde, O A Osonuga
Clinical Biochemistry 1998, 31 (7): 545-9

BACKGROUND: Several epidemiological studies have implicated hypercholesterolemia and hypertriglyceridaemia as a dietary risk factor in the etiology of vascular disease. To date, there are virtually no blood lipid data available for Negroid Black African Seventh-Day Adventist vegetarians. This study was undertaken to gain a preliminary and better understanding of the relationships between BP, blood lipids, and diets in adults at the Seventh-Day Adventist Seminary of West Africa, Ilisan-Remo, Nigeria.

METHODS: Three randomly selected groups of the Nigerian populace with different dietary habits were investigated. The Seventh-Day Adventist Seminary of West Africa was the study area. Anthropometric measurements, blood pressure, serum cholesterol, triglycerides, and serum glucose were estimated using standard methods.

FINDINGS: The vegetarians (VEGs) had significantly lower body weight 75.0 +/- 1.9 kg than the semi-vegetarians (SEMI-VEGs) 77.3 +/- 1.8 kg (p < 0.05). There was no significant difference between the blood pressure (BP) of the three groups studied, although the VEGs exhibited lower systolic BP. The VEGs had significantly lower serum total cholesterol and triglycerides (p < 0.05), than non-vegetarians (NON-VEGs). The SEMI-VEGs had blood triglycerides values in between NON-VEGs and VEGs levels but these were not significant. There were no differences in blood glucose in the three groups.

CONCLUSIONS: The vegetarian diet as well as the African natural diet are associated with lower levels of important cardiovascular disease risk factors. The significantly lower cardiovascular disease risk factors in vegetarian African Adventists could be a protective measure against the development of premature IHD and CVD incidence.

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