International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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32nd World Vegetarian Congress 1996
[Vegetarian Summerfest '96: A World Vegetarian Congress]

The first research in Russia
of a balanced vegetarian diet for the correction of the lipid metabolism for patients with cardiovascular diseases
EVU News, Issue 3 / 1996

image: Irina
Irena Medkova
Ph.D., MD

In many recent investigations there is the discussion about the possibility of stabilisation and even regression of atherosclerosis and decreasing the number of cardiovascular diseases and their complications. Many new medicines for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases through the correction of lipid metabolism have come onto the market. Unfortunately they can't resolve completely either the problem of the treatment or the problem of prevention of these diseases. Therefore many doctors now use the diet cure as the more effective way of treatment and prophylaxis.

Much research has showed that good results can be achieved by using a vegetarian diet. For example the comparative method of inquiry of lipid spectrum in blood of vegetarians and non-vegetarians shows that plasma of lacto-ovo-vegetarians and vegans has a lower concentration of common cholesterol (CH), triglycerids (TG), low density lipoproteins and very low density lipoproteins (LDL, VLDL) than non-vegetarians.

Unfortunately, up to the present time, balanced anti-atherosclerosis diets have not existed in Russia. The anti-atherosclerosis diet A-1, adopted in our country, contains less cholesterol, lipids and calories, but is still based on a mix of products (meat, fish, poultry, cereals and vegetables).

Having this problem the Scientific-and Practical Medical Centre of the Russian Vegetarian Society created a special anti-atherosclerosis lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet. More than 30 ingredients (proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, cholestorol, fibre, vitamins group B1 up to B15, A,C,E, macro- and micro-elements such as sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, zinc, iodine sulphur) were balanced in this diet. The diet was patented (the patent number 2060012) and received a name: VEGETARIAN ANTI-ATHEROSCLEROSIS VA-1. The lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet has less proteins and lipids of animal and cholestorol than the mixed anti-atherosclerosis diet. The lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet also has some more fibre, potassium, magnesium, iron, more than 10 times of vitamin C and more than 5 times of vitamin E.

Our diet was seasonal. The daily diet consisted of 4 meals, but the food distribution in meals was not traditional. The fruit breakfast contained only some fruits and juice. Lunch started at noon and contained a big portion of salad from raw seasonal vegetables, a vegetarian soup and a main dish of cereals or leguminous with vegetables. Bread was supposed to be with bran. For dessert a seasonal fruit drink was served. Dinner was at 5-6 p.m. and also contained a big salad portion and cottage cheese mixed either with raw carrots (so-called orange cheese), or with beet (pink cheese), or with nuts and greens (green cheese). After that tea, honey, dried apricots, or prunes were served.

20 patients, suffering from lipid disorders received the anti-atherosclerosis lacto-ovo-vegeatrian diet for 25 days. They were divided in two groups. 11 patients with hyperlipidemia (type II-A) were in the first group. 9 patients with hyperlipidemia (type II-B) were in the second group. The patients had the following diagnoses: stenocardia, atherosclerosis of the coronary arteries, hypertension stage II.

The biochemical and clinical blood analyses of all patients were performed before and after the diet cure. 24 biochemical ingredients, characterising different metabolic processes were studied.

All patients were under the constant control of a doctor. It included the estimation of general condition, the checking blood pressure, ECG dynamic, ultrasound check-control, tolerance to physical load. For this purpose the velo-ergometer of the Kettler firm was used.

During the diet treatment the patients of both groups didn't receive any medicines for correction of the metabolism.

25 days after the beginning of the treatment the total cholesterol level in the blood of the patients in both groups decreased. In the first group it decreased by 15%, in the second group it decreased by 27%. The decrease in the cholesterol level of the patients of the second group was reliable. Also there was the essential decrease of low density lipoproteins (LDL), which are the main transport form of atherogenic cholesterol. HDL-cholesterol had the tendency to increase in both groups. The atherogenic coefficient, which is most important for the estimation of the risk of the development of atherosclerosis, reliably dropped in both groups.

Here are the results of other biochemical measurements: there was a significant increase in the alfa-amilase level in both groups. Although this increase was reliable, the absolute amounts of alfa-amilase were in the physiological norm. It may depend on changes of food, where the content of carbohydrates in vegetables and fruits was higher. The dynamics of the uric acid level was of interest. In both groups its level decreased, reliable for the second group. Although the absolute amount of uric acid was the physiological norm. The decrease of uric acid in the blood is supposed to be a positive factor of the influence of this vegetarian diet.

The research showed the following: Before the treatment the patients of both groups complained of headache, cardialgia, heartbeats and dyspnea. At the end of the rehabilitation we could see the positive dynamic in both groups as decreasing and disappearing of some clinical symptoms.

13 patients at the beginning of the diet treatment had high blood pressure. At the end of the treatment the blood pressure decreased to the norm for all 13 patients.

The next stage of our research was conducted in a special cardiological centre "Udelnoe" near Moscow in a beautiful forest. All patients had serious diagnosis of the condition after fresh myocardial infarction. The patients received the same lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet, but it was enriched with soy products (soy yoghurt, soy cottage cheese, goulash, schnitzel soy chops).

The patients were organised in 3 groups. The first one received the vegetarian diet for 11-17 days, the second group received it for 19-22 days and the third one for 30-43 days.

We could see the changes of lipids spectrum in the patient's plasma after the rehabilitation. The diet treatment even for a short period of time leads to the total dropping of cholestorol and low density lipoproteins of the (HDL). A longer time on this diet leads to some increase in the HDL-cholesterol in the blood, and because of that the atherogenetic coefficient almost returns to the normal level.

With the help of a questionnaire we learned that the patients before the rehabilitation complained of dyspepsia, more correctly they complained about eructation, heartburn, constipation. After the rehabilitation program all patients had normal stool without medicine and only 10% of the patients had symptoms of dyspepsia after the course.

Therefore the investigations showed, that a specially balanced lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet can be effectively used as a means of preventing and curing some cardiovascular diseases.

Irena Medkova
Novoslobodskaya ul d54/56 kv36, 103055 Moskou, Russia
Tel.+7 095 258 07 13

Corresponding Member of the Russian Natural Sciences Academy, Director of Scientific-and-Practical Medical Centre of Russian Vegetarian Society, Vice-president of the Russian Vegetarian Society, Ph.D., MD Irina L. Medkova has published 4 books in Russian:

  1. Vegetarianism (about health, kindness, beauty)
  2. All about vegetarianism
  3. Food for cure
  4. The vegetarian table (1000 recipes)