Poster Topical Area: Aging and Chronic Disease

Location: Auditorium

Poster Board Number: 114

P01-096 - Associations between a vegetarian diet and cardiometabolic health among middle-older aged South Asians in the United States

Sunday, Jun 10
8:00 AM – 6:00 PM


To examine cross-sectional associations between a vegetarian diet and cardiometabolic risk in South Asian adults living in the US.


We used data from the Mediators of Atherosclerosis in South Asians Living in America (MASALA) study and included 892 South Asians (47% women) with mean age 55 (standard deviation=9.4) y. Dietary intakes for the previous year were estimated using a culturally appropriate and validated food frequency questionnaire. Participants were classified as following a vegetarian diet if they reported no consumption of meat, poultry or fish. Dietary quality was assessed by alternative healthy eating index. Adjusted linear and logistic regression models were used to examine associations of a vegetarian diet with cardiometabolic risk factors, including body mass index, waist circumference, visceral fat area, fasting glucose, insulin resistance, lipid profiles, blood pressure and measures of subclinical atherosclerosis including coronary artery calcium (CAC) and carotid intima media thickness (CIMT).


Thirty-eight percent of the cohort participants were classified as being vegetarians. Vegetarians were significantly more likely to be women and hold strong traditional South Asian cultural beliefs. They also had significantly higher intakes of carbohydrate, fiber, vitamins B1 and C, folate, calcium, iron, potassium and zinc after adjusting for age, sex and energy intake. A vegetarian diet was associated with lower body mass index, waist circumference, fasting glucose, HOMA-IR, LDL-cholesterol and lower odds of fatty liver (p<0.05 for all) compared to a non-vegetarian diet adjusting for age, sex, smoking status, study site, energy intake, education, traditional cultural beliefs, physical activity, BMI, dietary quality and alcohol intake (Table). The odds of having any coronary artery calcium were lower for vegetarian men, but no significant associations were observed among women.


Among South Asians in the US, a vegetarian diet was associated with fewer cardiometabolic risk factors overall and with less subclinical atherosclerosis among men. Prospective studies are needed to examine these associations over time and determine whether a vegetarian diet is cardioprotective.

Funding Source: National Institutes of Health (R01HL093009, UCSF-CTSI UL1 RR0241)
Table. Odds ratio (OR) and adjusted means (standard error) of cardiometablic risk factors comparing vegetarian and non-vegetarian MASALA participants

CoAuthors: Yichen Jin, MSPH – George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health; Alka Kanaya, MD – University of California, San Francisco; Namratha Kandula, MD, MPH – Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Sameera A. Talegawkar

Associate Professor
George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health
Washington, District of Columbia