More people are switching to a meatless diet for different reasons. Passion for preserving animal life, conserving resources and helping to save mother earth are among the few good reasons. If these reasons are not enough for you to jump on the bandwagon, perhaps improved overall health is tempting enough.
Find out how going meatless can improve the nutritional quality of your diet.
Your Diet Has a Major Impact On Your Health
It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that what you eat can largely affect your health and there are studies to prove it.
In one recent study, researchers analyzed the data provided by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and came to the conclusion that poor diet and unhealthy eating habits were responsible for 45 percent of deaths in 700,000 Americans in 2012.
The factors researchers looked into were the consumption of the following:
- Processed meats
- Unprocessed red meats
- Whole grains
- Sweetened beverages
- Polyunsaturated fats
After closer inspection, poor diet with high consumption of processed meats, red meat, sweetened drinks and salt combined with low consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains was responsible for the development of chronic diseases resulting to death.
A poor diet will not only affect your physical health, it can also have an impact on your mental health. One research suggests that food plays an important part in the development, prevention, and management of both short and long-term mental illnesses, such as anxiety, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and schizophrenia.
Becoming Vegetarian Improves Nutrition
Nutritional quality simply refers to the value of a food or a diet’s nutrient content and how it impacts your overall health. Not getting enough or getting too much of certain nutrients can lead to several health issues.
Meatless dieting is increasingly becoming popular because more studies are showing how meatless diets are nutritionally sufficient, healthful and beneficial in preventing the development of chronic diseases.
Meatless diets are not necessarily always healthier than omnivorous diets. A diet including soda, fries, and sweets is a meatless diet after all and it is definitely not healthy. Eating plant-based foods that are not providing your body key nutrients is the same thing.
Experts say it needs careful planning for a meatless diet to meet your body’s nutritional requirements. When properly planned and executed, meatless diets provide all the necessary nutrients, such as dietary fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids.
One of the common problems vegetarians face is the deficiency of some key nutrients, such as vitamin B12, protein, calcium, iron, and zinc, which are mostly found in animal meats. You can only get vitamin B12 from animal products. Intake of vitamin B12 supplements of consumption of foods, such as cereals, fortified with the vitamin can help reduce your risk of becoming vitamin B12 deficient.
For protein, you can get it from egg and dairy but if you do not eat them anymore you can get protein from grains, legumes, nuts and seeds which are also rich in calcium and zinc. Beans, tofu, and fortified cereals are good sources of iron. To prevent nutritional deficiencies, it helps to eat varied plant foods.
However, despite the risk of being nutrient deficient, it is safe to say that meatless dieters adhere more to the recommended diet pattern than meat eaters. Their diet consists more of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains which are typically high in fiber, low in sodium, and low in fat, particularly saturated fat.
Apart from preventing nutritional deficiencies, other thing meatless dieters should watch out for is their calorie intake. Nuts are good sources of protein, but they are high in calories. An ounce of nuts contain 5 grams of protein and has about 180 calories. Adults need 20 to 30 grams of protein a day. Increasing your consumption of nuts to meet your protein needs can be a problem especially if you are trying to maintain a healthy weight. Nevertheless, it is a minor problem you can easily solve by eating other protein sources with fewer calories.
If you plan to go meatless, one most important thing you should keep in mind is making sure you get all the nutrients your body needs. Do your research first and ask help from a professional.