Vegetarian diet and cholesterol and TAG levels by gender

Public Health Nutr. 2015 Mar;18(4):721-6. doi: 10.1017/S1368980014000883. Epub 2014 Jun 25.


Objective: The present study assessed the effects of vegetarian and omnivorous diets on HDL-cholesterol (HDL-C), LDL-cholesterol (LDL-C), TAG and the ratio of HDL-C to total cholesterol (TC) by gender.

Design: HDL-C, LDL-C, TAG and HDL-C:TC were compared among three diet groups (vegan, ovo-lacto vegetarian and omnivorous). Multivariate linear regression analysis was performed to examine factors significantly and independently associated with vegetarian status and to estimate the β value of lipid profiles for the diet groups. Settings A cross-sectional study. Data were obtained from the Taiwanese Survey on the Prevalence of Hyperglycemia, Hyperlipidemia and Hypertension (TwSHHH).

Subjects: The study comprised included 3257 men and 3551 women.

Results: After adjusting for confounders, vegan and ovo-lacto vegetarian diets lowered LDL-C levels (β=-10.98, P=0.005 and β=-7.12, P=0.025, respectively) in men compared with omnivorous diet. There was a significant association between HDL-C and vegan diet (β=-6.53, P=0.004). In females, the β values of HDL-C, TAG and HDL-C:TC were -5.72 (P<0.0001), 16.51 (P=0.011) and -0.02 (P=0.012) for vegan diet, and -4.86 (P=0.002), 15.09 (P=0.008) and -0.01 (P=0.026) for ovo-lacto vegetarian diet, when compared with omnivorous diet.

Conclusions: Vegan diet was associated with lower HDL-C concentrations in both males and females. Because the ovo-lacto vegetarian diet was effective in lowering LDL-C, it may be more appropriate for males.

Keywords: Vegetarian.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cholesterol / blood*
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet, Vegetarian / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Lipids / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Sex Factors
  • Triglycerides / blood*


  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Lipids
  • Triglycerides
  • Cholesterol