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Nutrition. 2004 Sep;20(9):738-46.

Effects of a low-fat vegan diet and a Step II diet on macro- and micronutrient intakes in overweight postmenopausal women.

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Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Department of Medicine, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Science, Washington, DC, USA.



This study investigated the nutrient intake of overweight postmenopausal women assigned to a low-fat vegan diet or a Step II diet.


Fifty-nine overweight (body mass index, 26 to 44 kg/m2) postmenopausal women were randomly assigned to a self-selected low-fat vegan or a National Cholesterol Education Program Step II diet in a 14-wk controlled trial on weight loss and metabolism. Nutrient intake, which was measured per 1000 kcal, was the main outcome measure. Statistical analyses included within-group and between-group t tests examining changes associated with each diet.


Consumption of a low-fat vegan diet was associated with greater decreases in fat, saturated fat, protein, and cholesterol intakes and greater increases in carbohydrate, fiber, beta-carotene, and total vitamin A intakes than was a Step II diet. The low-fat vegan group also increased thiamin, vitamin B6, and magnesium intakes more than the Step II group, and both groups increased folic acid, vitamin C, and potassium intakes. If considering only food sources of micronutrients, the low-fat vegan group decreased vitamin D, vitamin B12, calcium, selenium, phosphorous, and zinc intakes compared with baseline. However, with incidental supplements included, decreases were evident only in phosphorous and selenium intakes. No micronutrient decreases were found in the Step II group.


Individuals on a low-fat vegan or Step II diet should take steps to meet the recommended intakes of vitamin D, vitamin K, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, and zinc. Individuals on a low-fat vegan diet should also ensure adequate intakes of vitamin B12, phosphorous, and selenium.

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