Washington: Vegetarians have a lower occurrence of metabolic syndrome -- a precursor to heart disease, diabetes and stroke. The symptoms are extra weight around the waist and insulin resistance, in which the body cannot use insulin effectively which is required to control the amount of sugar in the body.

The Loma Linda University study found that while 25 percent of vegetarians had metabolic syndrome, the number significantly rose to 37 percent for semi-vegetarians and 39 percent for non-vegetarians, the journal Diabetes Care reported.

Lead researcher Nico S Rizzo of Loma Linda said, “It indicates that lifestyle factors such as diet can be important in the prevention of metabolic syndrome.”

Thirty-five percent of the subjects in this smaller sub-study were vegetarian. On an average, the vegetarians and semi-vegetarians were three years older than non-vegetarians.

Despite their slightly older age, vegetarians had lower triglycerides, glucose levels, blood pressure, waist circumference, and body mass index (BMI) - a height to weight ratio.