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Is a Vegetarian Diet Healthy?

Por Claudia M. González, MS, RD, LD/N* -

It's a fact: people who don't eat meat as often enjoy better health than those who eat it frequently, because their cholesterol levels and blood pressure are lower and they are less prone to suffer heart diseases. If you do decide to go vegetarian, take care to eat a balanced diet that includes all the essential elements for good health. 

Vegetarians are perfectly capable of fulfilling their daily requirements of amino acids, vitamins, and minerals provided they take the necessary measures and consume a wide variety of vegetable products, among them, cereals, nuts and bran.

Healthy, slimming habits

Defying the trendy high-animal-protein diets, vegetarians mainly consume carbohydrates. Instead of being overweight, they tend toward the opposite.

The majority of vegetarian diets contain the correct amount of calories, abundant fiber, and small amounts of fat and cholesterol. Also, these diets often contain less sodium and more potassium, elements that are useful for maintaining lower blood pressure.

Vegetarians tend to be more healthy not only because of their eating habits, but also because they're more conscious of health issues and, in general, show interest in playing more sports, drinking less alcohol, and not smoking. These habits are ideal for controlling their weight and reducing their risk for developing chronic diseases.

Situations requiring special attention

Although many vegetarians consume eggs and dairy products, others avoid all animal products. The latter should make sure they consume a wide range of vegetable products so they aren't lacking in any fundamental nutrient. Even so, many of them need a vitamin and mineral supplement to cover calcium and vitamin B12 deficiency.

With kids, it's especially important because there's the possibility that a vegetarian diet won't give them the right amount of calories they need for normal growth. Their eating habits should include more dairy products so they receive the correct amount of energy.

The wide world of vegetarian food

Nowadays, there are a variety of choices for people who don't eat meat. In addition to being healthy and nutritious, vegetarian foods are easy to prepare at home, and are now also widely available in many restaurants and supermarkets.

Below, we give you an example of a complete and balanced vegetarian meal plan for one day of the week:

  • Breakfast: whole wheat cereal with skim milk and fruit.
  • Lunch: vegetable soup, a cheese sandwich, and fresh fruit for dessert. Another similar option: mixed vegetables, a sandwich with egg, tomato, cucumber, and lettuce and yogurt for dessert.
  • Dinner: nut or peanut stew with mushrooms, served with rice and vegetables.

If you decide to lead a vegetarian lifestyle or if you've already adopted one, plan your diet accordingly so you cover your nutritional needs. Even better, we recommend you find professional help so you benefit from this healthy lifestyle without putting your health in danger.


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