How healthy are vegetarian diets?
A Vegetarian is one who abstains from all forms of meat, fish and other animal products like eggs, dairy, gelatin or honey.
Although not all vegetarians conform to this rule and may include one or more of the above items in their diet but generally stay off meat.
According to many study results vegetarians are less likely to suffer from heart diseases or die from it. It has also been estimated that vegetarians can end up living a longer life as compared to people who are non vegetarians.
Vegetarians mostly depend upon low fat diets including vegetables, fruits and whole grains. This diet is wonderful for controlling blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels.
Red meat is linked to increased risk of chronic diseases such as heart disorders and cancer because it contains ingredients that may form carcinogens during the process of cooking. Official advice from the Department of Health in 2010 said cutting down on red meat could reduce the risk of bowel cancer. Similarly UK studies indicate that vegetarians have lower rates of cancer and significantly lower (32 per cent less) rates of heart disease which are the major causes of mortality.
Thus, a vegan (strictly vegetarian) diet may serve as a preventive against lifestyle chronic diseases such as heart ailments and different types of cancers. Experts agree that most Americans would benefit from eating a more plant-based diet. However, when you eliminate all animal products, you may end up eliminating certain essential nutrients that are necessary for your body and are easily available in a non vegetarian diet. Vitamin D, vitamin B12, calcium, iron, omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids are just some of the nutrients that a strict vegan eater may lose out on. It is therefore vital to choose a variety of foods to ensure an adequate supply of all the nutrients necessary for optimum health. The American Dietetic Association suggests eating a carefully planned vegetarian or vegan diet, and recommends consulting a registered dietician to make sure your plan meets your nutritional needs.
Dr Vijay Kamat graduated from K.L.E. society’s Shri B. M. Kankanwadi Ayurved Mahavidyalaya, Belgaum, India; one of the oldest Ayurvedic institutions in India. He is a prestigious member of the Ayurvedic Association of India. He possesses deep ancestral and research-based knowledge of plants, and is passionate about bringing age-old secrets of Ayurveda within the reach of a common man. In keeping with his passion, he is presently leading the medical team of Biogetica – a collective of Doctors dedicated to natural medicine. Together, they work to bring evidence-based natural healing solutions to the world.