Fresh ‘N Fit Cuisine Nutrition Coaches: Considering A Vegetarian Diet?
A vegetarian diet means consuming foods only from plants; which means fruits, vegetables, legumes, (beans and peas), grains seeds and nuts. Some vegetarians (lacto vegetarians) will consume cheese and other dairy products. In addition, lacto-ovo vegetarians will consume eggs. Eating a vegetarian diet can be very healthy. It is low in cholesterol, high in fiber, and low in saturated fat. As a result of consuming such a heart healthy diet, many vegetarians have a lower risk of heart disease, obesity, and high blood pressure.
One concern when eating vegetarian is having enough protein in your diet. A well planned vegetarian diet can meet protein requirements. It is important to consume for both essential and non-essential amino acids from plant sources. A great way to ensure adequate protein intake is to consume from a variety of protein sources; such as legumes, vegetables, whole grains, seeds and nuts all contain essential and non-essential amino acids.
Furthermore, iron deficiency and B12 deficiency can be a major concern for vegetarians. The highest sources of iron are red meat, egg yolks and liver. However, good plant sources for vegetarians are dried beans, spinach, and dried fruits. In addition, B12 is found in fortified breakfast cereals, fortified soy beverages, fortified almond/coconut milk and nutritional yeast. It is recommended to take a B12 vitamin supplement to maintain proper levels of the vitamin in the body.
Calcium is another nutrient to consider when consuming a vegetarian diet. Some good sources of calcium are milk, yogurt, cheese, greens such as spinach, kale and broccoli, calcium set tofu, and beans, including soy beans, chickpeas and black beans, and almonds.
Lastly, Vitamin D can be a concern when eating vegetarian. Vitamin D sources are eggs, fortified milk, orange juice and cereals. If an individual does not have enough sun exposure to absorb Vitamin D or does not consume dairy products, they may need to take a Vitamin D supplement.
Whether choosing to eat vegetarian for health reasons, moral reasons or for any other reason; consider all of the above factors. It is always important to eat a variety of different fruits and vegetables to get an assortment of vitamins and minerals in your diet.