Objective: This study was conducted to demonstrate the effectiveness of a strictly vegetarian, very low-fat diet on cardiac risk factor modification.
Methods: Five hundred men and women, participants in an intensive 12-day live-in program, were studied. The program focused on dietary modification, moderate exercise, and stress management at a hospital-based health-center.
Results: During this short time period, cardiac risk factors improved: there was an average reduction of total serum cholesterol of 11% (p < 0.001), of blood pressure of 6% (p < 0.001) and a weight loss of 2.5 kg for men and 1 kg for women. Serum triglycerides did not increase except for two subgroups: females age > or = 65 years with serum cholesterol < 6.5 mmol/L and for females 50 to 64 years with baseline serum cholesterol between 5.2-6.5 mmol/L. High-density lipoprotein cholesterol measured on 66 subjects decreased by 19%.
Conclusion: A strict, very low-fat vegetarian diet free from all animal products combined with lifestyle changes that include exercise and weight loss is an effective way to lower serum cholesterol and blood pressure.