Most people have heard about the health benefits that a vegetarian diet will afford you, but did you know that these diets are only good for you if they are carefully planned?
According to a number of studies, vegetarians lead healthier lives than individuals who eat meat. Those people on a meat-based diet – meaning they have a high intake of red meat – usually have a higher risk of colorectal cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Vegetarians usually have a lower instance of these diseases.
However, simply switching to a vegetarian diet from one that includes meat can end up having a negative effect on your health if you do not make the switch in an intelligent way. A vegetarian diet can be really good for you if it is planned out carefully and includes essential nutrients.
What is the best way to go about making the switch? First of all, just because you are avoiding animal-based foods does not mean your health is going to benefit. Consider your carbohydrate content. Are you eating a lot of refined carbs throughout the day? Even though you are loading up on fresh fruits and vegetables, you cannot ignore the fact that eating a lot of refined carbs and sugars is not good for you.
Next, you need to look at the types of fats you are consuming. Even some plant-based fats and oils contain trans fats and can lead to higher cholesterol levels. Pay attention to the fats you are consuming to ensure you make the healthiest choices. The same goes for the amount of sugar and salt you ingest.
Overall, vegetarian diets are low in certain types of proteins known as first-class proteins. These typically come from animals and provide all essential amino acids, even those that our bodies cannot make, along with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12. If you are switching to a vegetarian diet, you should also make sure you are getting enough protein by eating certain types of legumes and nuts or supplementing your diet with vitamins.
For many people, a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables also includes fish and eggs, which are great sources of essential proteins and omega-3 fatty acids. Eating lean chicken and lead red meat once in a while can also be part of a healthy diet.
Keep in mind that you do not have to go completely vegetarian or vegan to experience the health benefits of such diets. You just have to make healthy choices.