10 Tips for Eating Healthy as a Vegetarian.

Depending on various lifestyles, health considerations and religions, people always have different choices for their diets. A vegetarian is a person who chooses to eat a diet of vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes and seeds. People who are vegetarians sometimes exclude things like dairy products and meat, poultry, game, fish and shellfish from their diet. People become vegetarians based on moral, religious or health reasons.

Eating Healthy as a Vegetarian

A vegetarian diet contains various levels of fruits, vegetables, grains, pulses, nuts and seeds.

The 8 types of Vegetarian diet

1. Lacto-vegetarians

This type of vegetarians eats all other dairy products apart from eggs. They do not eat any kind of meat or seafood. They eat a plant-based diet.

2. Ovo-vegetarians

This type of vegetarians eat eggs and all products that contain eggs but no other dairy product. This eating style does offer some flexibility in diet choices.

3. Lacto-ovo-vegetarians

This is one of the most popular and traditional forms of vegetarianism. They eat eggs and all other dairy products but they exclude meat, poultry or fish from their diet.

4. Pollo Vegetarians

Also known as proletarians, this type of vegetarians eat poultry but no other meat, seafood or dairy products. They incorporate multiple forms of poultry, like turkey and duck, into their otherwise plant-based diet. While poll vegetarians avoid other forms of meat, they may or may not choose to incorporate seafood, eggs, and dairy into their diet.

5. Flexitarians

Flexitarians, also called casual vegetarians, stick to a vegetarian diet most of the time but eat meat on occasion. It highlights an increased intake of plant-based meals without completely eliminating meat. 

6. Pescatarians

A pescatarian is someone who chooses to eat a vegetarian diet but who also eats fish and other seafood. It’s a largely plant-based diet of whole grains, nuts, legumes, produce and healthy fats, with seafood playing a key role as the main protein source.

7. Vegans

This is the strictest type of vegetarian. They refrain from all animal products and byproducts. These include dairy products, eggs, honey and all things made from or with gelatin. Their whole diet is plant-based. People who choose to live a vegan lifestyle may also avoid clothes, soaps and other products that use or contain parts of animals, such as leather and animal fur.

Health benefits of a vegetarian diet

1. Weight loss

A vegetarian diet helps with losing weight and lower the risk of having chronic diseases. This is because of the higher intake of vegetables, grains, fruit, nuts and fiber and a lower intake of saturated fat and cholesterol.

2. Good for Heart health

A vegetarian diet is good for heart health. If you want the heart-protective benefits of the diet, make sure to choose

  • legumes
  • nuts
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • whole grains that are high in fiber.
  • other foods with low glycemic index (lgi)

3. Diabetes

It may reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome, which includes obesity and type 2 diabetes. Eating a healthy vegetarian diet can help you to prevent and treat type 2 diabetes and all the complications associated with it. Let your diet be full of low glycemic foods because they help to keep your blood sugar steady.

4. Lower Cholesterol level

Changing to a vegetarian diet helps to lower your overall cholesterol levels.

5. Lowers your blood pressure

A vegetarian diet may help to lower and/or maintain your blood pressure. This is because plant foods tend to be lower in fat, sodium and cholesterol and this can have a positive effect on your blood pressure.

6. Decrease asthma symptoms

A vegan diet may decrease symptoms of asthma. It also helps to improve your health and that will make you less dependent on medications. This is because some certain animal foods may produce an allergy or inflammation response. So, removing these foods from the diet can help in reducing these responses.

7. Reduces Cancer Risk

It may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and various types of cancer. It also offers the most protection for female-specific cancers like breast cancer.

8. Promotes bone health

Eating a vegetarian diet helps to promote and sustain bone health.

9.  Anti-inflammatory

People eating a vegetarian diet might have lower levels of inflammatory markers. These inflammatory markers are a risk factor for diabetes, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease. Also, the diet of vegetarians consists of plant foods that are very high in antioxidants. Antioxidants are anti-inflammatory and very beneficial to overall body health.

10. Live longer

Eating a vegetarian diet may help you to live longer. A Journal of the American Heart association study found that eating a plant-based diet lowers the risk of all causes of mortality by 25 percent (%).

11. Risk of stroke

Your risk of stroke increases if you have high blood pressure, are overweight, have diabetes or heart disease, have high cholesterol, or smoke, drink or use drugs. Most of those risk factors can be wiped out by following a plant-based diet and making healthy lifestyle choices.

12. Strong brain

Polyphenols which are found in fruits and vegetables may help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Also, eating fruits and vegetables can lead to a reduction in the risk of dementia and cognitive impairment.

What every vegetarian needs

To be sure that your diet includes everything your body needs, pay special attention to the following nutrients:

Calcium and vitamin D

Calcium helps build and maintain strong teeth and bones. Milk and dairy foods are highest in calcium. However, dark green vegetables, such as turnip and collard greens, kale, and broccoli, are good plant sources when eaten in sufficient quantities. Calcium-enriched and fortified products, including juices, cereals, soy milk, soy yoghurt and tofu, are other options.

Vitamin D also plays an important role in bone health. Vitamin D is added to cow’s milk, some brands of soy and rice milk, and some cereals and margarine. Be sure to check food labels. If you don’t eat enough fortified foods and have limited sun exposure, you may need a vitamin D supplement (one derived from plants).

Vitamin B-12

Vitamin B-12 is necessary to produce red blood cells and prevent anaemia. This vitamin is found almost exclusively in animal products, so it can be difficult to get enough B-12 on a vegan diet. Vitamin B-12 deficiency may go undetected in people who eat a vegan diet. This is because the vegan diet is rich in a vitamin called folate, which may mask a deficiency in vitamin B-12 until severe problems occur. For this reason, it’s important for vegans to consider vitamin supplements, vitamin-enriched cereals and fortified soy products.

Protein

Protein helps maintain healthy skin, bones, muscles and organs. Eggs and dairy products are good sources, and you don’t need to eat large amounts to meet your protein needs. You can also get sufficient protein from plant-based foods if you eat a variety of them throughout the day. Plant sources include soy products and meat substitutes, legumes, lentils, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are important for heart health. Diets that do not include fish and eggs are generally low in active forms of omega-3 fatty acids. Canola oil, soy oil, walnuts, ground flaxseed and soybeans are good sources of essential fatty acids. However, because the conversion of plant-based omega-3 to the types used by humans is inefficient, you may want to consider fortified products or supplements or both.

Iron and zinc

Iron is a crucial component of red blood cells. Dried beans and peas, lentils, enriched cereals, whole-grain products, dark leafy green vegetables, and dried fruit are good sources of iron. Because iron isn’t as easily absorbed from plant sources, the recommended intake of iron for vegetarians is almost double that recommended for nonvegetarians. To help your body absorb iron, eat foods rich in vitamin C, such as strawberries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, cabbage and broccoli, at the same time as you’re eating iron-containing foods.

Like iron, zinc is not as easily absorbed from plant sources as it is from animal products. Cheese is a good option if you eat dairy products. Plant sources of zinc include whole grains, soy products, legumes, nuts and wheat germ. Zinc is an essential component of many enzymes and plays a role in cell division and information of proteins.

Iodine

Iodine is a component in thyroid hormones, which help regulate the metabolism, growth and function of key organs. People that are vegetarians may not get enough iodine and may be at risk of deficiency and possibly even a goitre. In addition, foods such as soybeans, cruciferous vegetables and sweet potatoes may promote a goitre. However, just 1/4 teaspoon of iodized salt a day provides a significant amount of iodine.

10 Tips for Eating Healthy as a Vegetarian

  • Make vegetables the star of your meals
  • Choose whole grain products
  • Limit your intake of foods that are high in fat , sugar and/or salt.
  • Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables everyday
  • Not all vegan products are healthier
  • Use eggs and dairy products in moderation
  • Discover new plant-based proteins
  • Eat beans, pulses, eggs, lentils and all other sources of proteins but let it be in accordance with your type of vegetarian.
  • Dairy products like cheese and yoghurt or dairy alternatives like fortified unsweetened soya and oat drinks are needed for calcium and vitamins.
  • Choose unsaturated oils and spreads.
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