Wondering about Vegetarianism?

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June 26, 2013 by thehealthyheartcenter

Have your kids claimed they are now vegetarian? Are you concerned they aren’t getting enough nutrients? Have you heard about the fast growing diet of choice and may be interested? Is it safe and healthy? Don’t worry any longer; it’s a lot simpler than you think. Here are the clear-cut facts.

Vegetarians decide to cut meat out of their diet for a variety of reasons. One of them is to improve their health. The truth is that many studies have shown that such a diet is associated with a reduced risk of death, lower blood pressure and lower diabetes than nonvegetarians. It has also been found to reduce the risk of cancer. Typically the diet is linked with lower intake of saturated fat and higher intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

So what’s all the worry about?

It’s true a vegetarian diet can restrict nutrients such as calcium, iron, protein and vitamin D & B12. Fortunately there are many sources of these nutrients making it easy for picky vegetarians to eat a well-balanced meal.

Calcium: fat-free milk, fortified soy and almond milk, yogurt,
cheese, fortified cereals, tofu, leafy green vegetables, broccoli,
beans, almonds

Iron: fortified cereals, soybeans, leafy and dark green
vegetables, beans, breads, rice, pasta, eggs, peanut butter

Protein: beans, whole grains, soy products, nuts and nut butter,
dairy products, eggs

Vitamin B12: fortified foods such as soy milk and cereals, dairy products, eggs

Vitamin D: sun exposure, eggs, fortified soy milk, cow’s milk,
orange juice and cereal

Many people resist this diet simply because they believe it is too hard and inconvenient. Restaurants are constantly providing more vegetarian-friendly options. And even when there aren’t many, simply order a dish such as pasta with a substituted veggie instead of the chicken. If you want to become vegetarian but don’t know where to begin, start thinking outside the box by creating dishes such as meatless tacos and veggie rice bowls.

Of course, this diet is not for everyone. Who says you have to go so extreme? Anyone can receive the benefits of cutting back their meat consumption. Try Meatless Mondays as a challenge and you could begin to see other types of entrees as options. And perhaps the recommendation of making half your plate fruits and vegetables may not seem so hard after all.

Sources: http://www.eatright.org/About/Content.aspx?id=8357, http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6374

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Authors

Dr. Wali Gauvin

Kendra Fink RD CPT

Jessica Griffin: Intern

Julianna Yi: Intern

Marielle Mangano: Intern

Jackie Page: Intern

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