New York: People who follow a vegetarian diet are likely to have a lower number of risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, says a study of South Asians living in the US.

Researchers, including one of Indian-origin, found that those who followed a vegetarian diet had a lower body mass index, smaller waist circumference and lower amounts of abdominal fat, lower cholesterol and lower blood sugar compared to people in the same demographic group who ate meat.

The study, presented at Nutrition 2018 meeting held in Boston, included data from 892 South Asians with mean age 55 years.

The results presented by Sameera Talegawkar from George Washington University in the US also showed that the odds of developing coronary artery calcium were lower in men who followed vegetarian diet.

The team said that further studies were needed to determine whether vegetarian diet is cardioprotective.