A number of key studies show that vegetarians enjoy improved longevity, i.e. experience significantly decreased death rates, especially in the area of ischemic (blood flow-related) heart disease. This is something I cover in my page on Vegetarian Longevity. NOTE: It is worth nothing that Vegetarians Enjoy Equal or Superior Testosterone Levels according to one study.
So what confers these health benefits in the cardiovascular arena to plant-based diets? Vegetarian diets, in general, have many advantages in this area:
1. Lowered blood pressure.
2. Increased antioxidant status.
3. Decreased inflammation
I want to focus here on #3, i.e.decreased inflammation. All men everywhere should have a laser-focus on controlling their inflammation levels and the reason is simple: inflammation appears to the root of most chronic illness in Western societies, including cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease, cancer and dementia/Alzheimers. (Insulin insensitivity would be a close second.)
NOTE: For more information, see these links on Controlling Inflammation.
Below I want to outline how vegetarians have been shown in a number of key studies to have lower inflammation levels than the general populace and meat-eaters:
1. Sex-Matched Long Term Vegetarians. This study concluded that "a long-term vegetarian diet is associated with markedly higher fasting plasma AA concentrations and lower concentrations of TAG, UA, and hsCRP. Long-term vegetarians have a better antioxidant status and coronary heart disease risk profile than do apparently healthy omnivores." Notice the decreased hsCRP levels, a key marker of the body's overall inflammation levels. hsCRP stands for "highly sensitive C-Reactive Protein.
2. Taiwanese Study. This study noted that ""Taiwanese vegetarians have lower total cholesterol, LDL-C and hs-CRP levels, and higher homocysteine levels than omnivores."
3. Slovakian Study. This study showed dramatically reduced hsCRP levels. Authors praised the increase fruit and vegetable consumption of vegetarians as a likely reason for cardiovascular improvements. The difference in CRP scores was remarkable: .72 mg/l in vegetarians versus 1.62 in meat-eaters.
All evidence shows that one of the big benefits from a vegetarian, plant-based lifestyle is greatly reduced inflammation levels. Again, the important of this cannot be overestimated. Keep in mind that inflammation is the primary component that damages your arteries, leading to decreased nitric oxide output, weakened erections and increased arterial plaque.
1) Nutrition, Oct 2004, 20(10):863-866, "Effects of a long-term vegetarian diet on biomarkers of antioxidant status and cardiovascular disease risk"
2) European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2008, 62:138 144, "Total cardiovascular risk profile of Taiwanese vegetarians"
3) Bratisl Lek Listy, 2005, 106(11):345-347, "C Reactive Protein and Nutrition"