How Good Are Vegetarian Diets for Your Health?

Only 5 days left of “Meatless May” and the last two days have been a little strange. It may be because of the unusually hot weather we’ve been having this week, or the fact that I’m tired from working full time, working out at lunch, and taking night classes. Either way, I’ve been more tired than normal after my workouts the last two days. I am working on increasing my water intake.

Today I had a protein bar and a small handful of potato chips (I know, chips aren’t the healthiest, but I felt like I needed to get some sodium back in my system and it was the only thing available at the office). It seemed to do the trick. When I told my husband, his first question was “Are you getting enough protein?” I have been tracking my protein this month with going meatless, but I haven’t been as careful about tracking the last few days. So, I’ll be careful these last 5 days of May to get my protein and water in.

Meanwhile, I found this link from a tweet posted by @EarthFare and thought it was worth passing on.

There are actually 6 articles that can be found here: http://www.helium.com/knowledge/353570-how-good-are-vegetarian-diets-for-your-health.

Here’s one by Theresa Rose:

“No one will argue that a diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables is a healthy one. When the primary source of protein is removed from the diet, it is necessary to look for substitutions that can provide comparable nutrition. Vegetarian diets require a great deal of discipline, but it will also be necessary for any “would be” vegetarian to take the time to find out what they can use to ensure that their diet provides them with sufficient protein. It also means that you can’t just decide to become a vegetarian without knowing what you’ll need to eat to get sufficient protein, vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other nutrients.

“Consider the extent to which you want to be a vegetarian –

“There are levels of vegetarianism . Some people who aren’t used to the strictest of vegetarian diets will opt to go the route of moderation in which they eat fish, and some people will also eat poultry. These people are referred to as flexitarians because their diet is more flexible. This can be a very healthy diet because it ensures that you get sufficient protein, but it eliminates the cholesterol causing problems of red meats and other fattier animal proteins. The more flexible you are in terms of eating fish, dairy products and perhaps chicken, the less you’ll have to worry finding other ways to get that nutrition.

“*Lacto-ovo vegetarians*

“Lacto-ovo vegetarians are probably the most common types of vegetarians. They don’t eat meat or fish, but they do eat dairy products and eggs. This is important because eggs can be an extremely effective source of protein, and many dairy products provide both vitamin D and calcium, and in order for the vitamin D to be absorbed properly. Foods like cheese, milk and yogurt can provide both the calcium and vitamin D, but it may be necessary to include other foods such as beans, tofu and other vegetarian forms of protein to the diet to make it healthy.

“*Vegan vegetarians* –

“Vegan vegetarians are those who don’t eat any meat or dairy products or eggs. They must therefore find all protein and amino acids from plant products. Tofu and other soy products can provide the main source of protein. Alternatively, combining rice and beans together can provide a complete protein and provide all of the essential amino acids as well. Anyone on a vegan diet has to take the time to learn about the foods that can be used to provide adequate nutrition in place of animal products.

“Because a vegan diet doesn’t use any type of animal product, it can be helpful for maintaining weight (or for weight loss,) and for lowering blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol. In addition to the fruits and vegetables that form the basis of this type of diet, whole grain products are also part of the diet, and these types of complex carbohydrates are not only good for health reasons, but also because the high amount of fiber they contain helps to maintain the feeling of fullness that can’t be achieved solely through the consumption of fruits and vegetables.

“*Potentially lower in fat and calories-

“A vegetarian diet that is followed properly can be lower in fat and calories, and in particular, in the saturated fats that lead to heart disease, high blood pressure and other problems. A good vegetarian diet can get the necessary dietary fat from good sources of monounsaturated fat such as olive oil, peanut butter, nuts and avocado. It may be necessary to eat multiple smaller meals throughout the day in order to get sufficient nutrition and to stave off hunger, but that too, can be healthier.

“Following a vegetarian diet requires discipline and the willingness to learn the necessary ways to combine foods in order to get complete proteins. When properly followed, a vegetarian diet can push a person to reexamine their overall diet and to overhaul their lifetime of bad eating habits. This can lead to a much healthier way of eating, weight loss, the abatement of health issues that might be related to diet and/or weight and many other things.

“All in all, because fruits and vegetables are so low in cholesterol and calories, and are so high in fiber and essential vitamins, a diet using these foods as the basis can be very helpful. It can help to unclog arteries, lower blood pressure, triglycerides and improve health in many other ways. Beans, tofu, tempeh and other high protein vegetable based products can be used as a source of protein to replace animal products. When using canned beans, be sure you rinse them well because they often contain a lot of sodium because that is used as a preservative.”

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One response to “How Good Are Vegetarian Diets for Your Health?

  1. I wanted to thank you for using my article on vegetarian diets. (I am Helium’s Theresa Rose.) Obviously, your efforts have proved to be quite successful. I applaud you for your discipline, and for your willingness to share your journey with others. Congratulations on your success, and thanks again!

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