Background: Vegetarian diets have been associated with reduced mortality. Because a pure vegetarian diet might not easily be embraced by many individuals, consuming preferentially plant-derived foods would be a more easily understood message. A provegetarian food pattern (FP) emphasizing preference for plant-derived foods might reduce all-cause mortality.
Objective: The objective was to identify the association between an a priori-defined provegetarian FP and all-cause mortality.
Design: We followed 7216 participants (57% women; mean age: 67 y) at high cardiovascular risk for a median of 4.8 y. A validated 137-item semiquantitative food-frequency questionnaire was administered at baseline and yearly thereafter. Fruit, vegetables, nuts, cereals, legumes, olive oil, and potatoes were positively weighted. Added animal fats, eggs, fish, dairy products, and meats or meat products were negatively weighted. Energy-adjusted quintiles were used to assign points to build the provegetarian FP (range: 12-60 points). Deaths were confirmed by review of medical records and the National Death Index.
Results: There were 323 deaths during the follow-up period (76 from cardiovascular causes, 130 from cancer, 117 for noncancer, noncardiovascular causes). Higher baseline conformity with the provegetarian FP was associated with lower mortality (multivariable-adjusted HR for ≥ 40 compared with <30 points: 0.59; 95% CI: 0.40, 0.88). Similar results were found with the use of updated information on diet (RR: 0.59; 95% CI: 0.39, 0.89).
Conclusions: Among omnivorous subjects at high cardiovascular risk, better conformity with an FP that emphasized plant-derived foods was associated with a reduced risk of all-cause mortality. This trial was registered at www.controlled-trials.com as ISRCTN35739639.
© 2014 American Society for Nutrition.