Health and Nutrition Education

Keys To A Healthy Vegetarian Diet

Keys To A Healthy Vegetarian Diet

The vegetarian diet

There are many people who directly associate the word vegetarian with a healthy diet and weight loss, and it doesn’t have to be that way. The vegetarian diet is not a diet to lose weight, but a different option to understand food. It is a diet based on consuming only foods of plant origin, and today it has become a philosophy of life that has more and more adherents.

Obviously the vegetarian diet can be very healthy, but you need knowledge about what foods to eat and combine. By eliminating foods of animal origin from our diet, we also suppress the nutrients that they provide us. For this reason, we must look for substitute foods of plant origin that have these same nutrients.

If you want to follow this diet, it must be balanced, consistent and planned so that it is not harmful to health. Information and training are needed to know how to combine the different food elements. Our advice, apart from informing ourselves on the subject, is to go to a nutritionist. The specialist will supervise the diet and give us guidelines and recommendations so that it is healthy and balanced.

Its variants

There are several alternatives within vegetarianism, depending on whether only foods of animal origin or their derivatives are eliminated. Within this practice, there are different more or less strict options:

  • Strict vegetarians or vegans Diet: They only eat products of plant origin, they exclude all derivatives of animal origin such as milk or eggs.
  • Lacto-vegetarian Diet: It is based on consuming foods of vegetable and dairy origin.
  • Ovolacteovegetarian Diet: Foods of vegetable origin, eggs and dairy are consumed. It is the most complete of all vegetarian alternatives on a nutritional level.
  • Ovovegetarian Diet: People who follow this trend eat only plant-based products but include eggs in their diet.
  • Pescetarian Diet: Diet that includes foods of plant origin and tolerate fish meat.
  • Raw Diet: Products of plant origin are eaten raw, without processing, cooking or heating.

Keys to a healthy vegetarian diet

The key to following this diet in a healthy way is to know what foods replace those that we have eliminated.

In the case of dairy, we can replace milk of animal origin with soy, rice or almond milk. Other foods that provide calcium are kale, turnips, Chinese cabbage, and seaweed, among others.

Excluding meat from our diet reduces saturated fat and helps lower our cholesterol levels, but we need the protein it provides. We can replace them by consuming fermented soybeans, tofu, beans, legumes and nuts. If the diet accepts eggs, this food is also a great source of protein.

When cutting out meat, we must also look for foods that contain iron.  Green leafy vegetables, crucifers, beans or dehydrated fruits such as dates contain it. Nutritionists recommend taking these foods accompanied by others with vitamin C, as it helps our body absorb iron.

The vitamin D is found in foods of animal origin. For this reason, vegetarians are recommended to sunbathe for about 15 minutes a day because the rays provide this vitamin. We can also find it in plant foods such as avocado, enriched cereals or mushrooms.

As for vitamin B12, lacto-ovo vegetarians can find it in eggs and dairy. For the most strict vegetarians, soy milk, cereals and shiitake contain it, but not enough. It is best to talk to the nutritionist for advice on taking a supplement.

The zinc is mainly found in cheese, if not part of your diet, you can find them in nuts and soy products.

The Omega – 3 is essential for our cardiovascular health. We can find it , in addition to fish, in extra virgin olive oil, in chia seeds, flax, sacha inchi and hemp.

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