Most people tend to get vegetarians and a typical vegetarian diet completely wrong. They think that vegetarians don’t eat meat and animal produce at all. In fact, there are some types of vegetarians who do eat eggs and drink milk like lacto-ovo vegetarians and lacto-vegetarians.
Eggs and milk are two healthy foods that pack a lot of nutritional goodness and are not fleshy. But even going on a complete no meat, dairy, and egg diet has greater health perks than opting for something that’s in between. It’s all about knowing your green foods thoroughly and getting a bit of everything in your plate. So, how exactly is a vegetarian diet healthier for you?
Fruits and vegetables ensure healthy bones
Dairy products such as milk, mozzarella and Greek yogurt may be the best source of dietary calcium, but they are not the only ones. Did you know that there’s also soy milk – milk that is actually vegetarian milk? Soy milk is extracted from soybeans and is used to make tofu, arguably also one of the best sources of dietary calcium.
A number of dark green leafy vegetables can make up for your entire recommended daily intake of calcium. Vegetables like broccoli, kale, and collard contain as much as 250 mg per cup which is close to what a glass of milk holds (310 mg). In fact, the calcium in vegetables is present in a form that is a lot more easily usable by the body as compared to that coming from dairy products. A vegetarian diet can thus be just as effective as milk for strengthening your bones and reducing the chances of developing chronic conditions such as osteoporosis in later ages. Not to mention, fresh fruit juices also contribute to bone health as the Vitamin C in them is essential for building osteoblasts, the bone cells.
Less unhealthy fats in your diet
Probably one of the biggest drawbacks of the average American diet comprising of mainly greasy junk food is the high amount of unhealthy saturated fat in it. This predisposes several people to cardiac disease. On the other hand, vegetarian diets are probably the best solution for beating cardiac diseases and working on building a healthier heart. Not only do vegetables contain fewer saturated fats, but also they require lesser oil to be cooked in.
Meals comprising of a big chunk of meat are generally very high on unhealthy unsaturated fats in the form of low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) and cholesterol. Both of these clog blood vessels thus leading to increased blood pressure and a gradual decrease in cardiac health. A weak heart is only the beginning of the onset of a number of health related problems as a result of poor physical and metabolic performance. Vegetables, on the other hand, carry very little saturated fats and are also a good source of omega-4 and omega-6 fatty acids that actually help to unblock the blood vessels.
Lower body weight
Vegetarians stay slim, whereas meat eaters tend to get fatter as they age. This may sound like a harsh generalization, but it is true to an extent. Even though weight management covers a lot more than one’s diet (exercise and physical activity play a key role as well), it all boils down to quality of the nutrients one is taking in the form of food, their nutritional relevance and how the body is using them.
As mentioned above, meat has a higher concentration of unhealthy fats in addition to low quality carbs that require a consistent effort to be depleted. If not kept under control and allowed to build up within the body, these saturated fats and low quality carbs are stored in tissues below the skin leading to weight gain that can eventually cause obesity as well. However, a vegetarian diet generally does not have too many unhealthy saturated fats that are the primary source of weight gain, and also comprise of high quality complex carbs that are only broken down as per the body’s needs while the excess is wasted as fiber. As a result, vegetarians don’t gain weight as fast as their meat-eating counterparts and can pride on their hourglass figure and flat stomachs as if they have recently come out of a waist trainer.
Lesser chances of developing cancer
Cancer still is one of the leading causes of death in the developing world, and while researches have yet to come up with a cure that guarantees 100% results, the risk of developing cancer can be significantly diminished by following a cancer prevention diet. Interestingly, most of these diet plans revolve around healthy servings of green leafy vegetables and rich citrusy fruits throughout the day. They also tend to incorporate only smaller portions of meat.
Unlike meat and other animal produce, particularly that which is processed, vegetables and fruits are a rich source of antioxidants and other phytochemicals that function as strong anti-cancer agents. Vegetables rich in carotenoids such as sprouts, squash, brussels and carrots are also known to do just the same.
A sharper mind
Remember when your parents used to tell you to “Finish your veggies?”. Well, there’s a good reason why they did so. That’s because vegetables are actually a rich source of Vitamin E that not only helps in memory retention, but also boosts brain health. In short, Vitamin E makes you smarter! Vegetarian diets are known to reduce cortisol (stress hormone) levels decreasing anxiety, and even act as a preventive measure for diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, broccoli and cauliflower, vegetable oils such as olive oil are excellent sources of Vitamin E, and even a normal sized portion of these vegetables can cover up for the daily intake value of 20mg. It is a small amount, and most foods, whether vegetarian and non-vegetarian, will normally carry more than enough. But why bother chugging a steak when a bowl of fresh green salad topped with an olive oil dressing can do just fine?
A healthier and more beautiful you
The combined natural goodness of going on a vegetarian diet has far more benefits than just those specific organs or systems within the body. Yes, a vegetarian diet is good for cardiac health, it makes your bones stronger, and regulates proper bowel movements, but all of this in collection just leads to better health. And an increased amount of good health and wellness merely leads to a greater sense of personal well-being making you feel ‘young at heart.’ When you will feel healthy and beautiful you will automatically care for your child in the best way.
Not to mention, the antioxidants that are responsible for fighting cancer and also boosting our immune system against infections caused by foreign pathogens, are also responsible for slowing down the body’s natural aging process by reducing the appearance of wrinkles and dark patches on the skin. A vegetarian diet thus truly adds a radiant to glow to your skin and personality.
So in other words, if you want to live longer, young and beautiful, a vegetarian diet is the best way to go as far as you’re eating habits are concerned.
Zyana Morris is a passionate health and lifestyle blogger who loves to write about prevailing trends. She is a featured author at various authoritative blogs and has written articles for Life hack, Inscriber Mag, Blogger Babes and others.