Vegetarianism- it’s not for everyone. Eating a vegetarian diet means taking out some of the everyday foods we know and love. For some people, having to give up their precious steaks is a tall order- one they can’t possibly imagine fulfilling.
But, are you missing out on important health benefits by avoiding a more vegetarian diet? Could it be that your body would be happier and healthier if you picked up the drumstick and put down the carrot?
Rest assured, you can still have a healthy diet and enjoy all the savory, succulent meats you love. In much the same way, you can avoid meat altogether and still be very unhealthy. However, there is a laundry list of advantages to eating a vegetarian diet.
It’s Heart Healthy
Eating a vegetarian diet is good for your heart. Studies have shown that people who eat nutritious vegetarian diets are significantly less likely to be hospitalized for heart disease. And of course, any way you can avoid something like heart disease is a step in the right direction. Even for people with genes that make them predisposed to heart disease, fruits and vegetables help mitigate the risk.
However, heart health doesn’t just come from eating potato chips and drinking beer- both of which are vegetarian. You’re going to have to pay attention to what kinds of vegetarian foods you put into your body and cultivate a truly healthy vegetarian diet.
If you want that good heart health to help your ticker go on ticking, consider adding high-fiber foods such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes like beans, peas, and lentils. All of these foods are a great way to get your heart in tip-top shape.
So, if you’re concerned for your heart health, you may want to experiment with a vegetarian diet. It’s certainly not going to fix everything all at once, but it can be a part of a heart-healthy lifestyle.
It Lowers Blood Pressure
In addition to helping out with heart health, a healthy vegetarian diet can also help you get your blood pressure under control. Struggling with blood pressure irregularities is not fun, and eating a vegetarian diet may be able to help you out of that hole.
Studies indicate that people who eat less meat have lower blood pressure than people who do. Vegetarians and vegans reap the benefits of their vegetable-heavy diets in both heart health and blood pressure.
The reason for this is because vegetarian food is often very low in the kinds of compounds that are driving up your average person’s blood pressure. Things like sodium, cholesterol, and your host of typical perpetrators don’t show up as much in a vegetarian diet as they do in a carnivore.
Also, plants usually have very high concentrations of potassium- a compound many people are lacking in their diet.
May Reduce Risk of Cancer
Now, what you might have just read is ‘vegetarianism prevents cancer.’ That’s not what we’re saying at all. The benefits in terms of cancer and cancer prevention for vegetarians are slim- but they’re still noticeable, which means vegetarianism could help to prevent cancer.
People at a low risk for cancer have shown through testing to benefit from even lower cancer risk when they adopt a vegetarian diet. People usually experienced benefits in specific types of cancers, not cancer overall. Diet has even been linked to Alzheimer’s and dementia.
If you’re one of those people who’s never broken a bone, you may have already found a diet that can give you strong bones and a great skeletal system to support you throughout your day. But, if you’ve had a few fractures, might vegetarianism be a way to reduce your risk?
Studies have found that vegetarians experience a lower risk of osteoporosis than non-vegetarians. The thought is that animal products like meat may just force calcium out of your system. This is never good for your bones, which need calcium like nothing else.
While a vegetarian diet can be very healthy and help you in these crucial areas, it can also be a little bit of a downer in other areas. For example, meat is a great source of proteins and other nutrients, which are quite hard to find throughout the plant world.
Eating rice and beans can be a good solution to the problem of protein, but you need to eat a lot of rice and beans to get the same benefit you might get from a juicy steak.
Not to mention, vegetarian diets can be low in iron, which means that you might find yourself getting a little woot upon standing up and contracting the harmful effects of iron shortage.
Many people also go into a vegetarian diet thinking that just because they don’t eat meat, they’re going to be feeling the benefits. But, you can still be unhealthy while eating vegetarian. In fact, some of the most unhealthy foods out there are vegetarian. Being a vegetarian, just like being a meat-eater, takes a little diet planning.