Vegetarianism has become ever more popular in recent years as more and more people start to cut meat from their diets.
Adopting a vegetarian diet can be the perfect way to stay healthy and happy. A vegetarian diet is a complete diet, which is associated with high consumption of fiber, vitamins C and E, folic acid, magnesium, unsaturated fat, and numerous phytochemicals. And this is why vegetarians have lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure and reduced risk of heart diseases.
There is a variety of diets that come under the umbrella term vegetarian:
Lacto-ovo-vegetarians avoid both meat and fish but consume dairy and eggs.
Lacto-vegetarians consume dairy products but no eggs.
Ovo-vegetarians consume eggs but no dairy.
Some people who do not eat meat will eat fish. This is a pescatarian diet, rather than a vegetarian diet.
A vegan diet excludes all animal-based foods.
Vegetables are vital not just for our healthy living but for the environment too.
Here are some health benefits of being a vegetarian:
1. Lower cholesterol levels
A systematic review published in 2015 concluded that people who follow a vegetarian diet are likely to have lower overall cholesterol levels.
Although cholesterol is an essential component of each human cell, vegetarians do not need to worry about not getting enough cholesterol, because the body can make all the cholesterol it needs from vegan foods.
2. Heart health
Eating fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes and fiber are linked to a lower risk of heart disease.
Authors of a 2014 study found a lower risk of cardiovascular disease in people who followed a vegetarian diet in India.
Studies also show that vegan diets are much more effective at reducing blood sugar, LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol levels.
This may be particularly beneficial to heart health since reducing high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels may reduce the risk of heart disease by as much as 46%.
3. May Protect Against Certain Cancers
Avoiding certain animal products may help reduce the risk of prostate, breast and colon cancers.
That may be because vegan diets are devoid of smoked or processed meats and meats cooked at high temperatures, which are thought to promote certain types of cancers
A study of data for nearly 70,000 people found evidence that the incidence of cancer overall was lower among vegetarians than non-vegetarians.
4. Richer in Certain Nutrients
Several studies have reported that vegan diets tend to provide more antioxidants and beneficial plant compounds. They also appear to be richer in potassium, magnesium, folate and vitamins A, C and E.
Fruits and Vegetables also contain high fiber content, which is necessary for proper digestion. It helps improve body metabolism and helps in the fast elimination of toxins and other chemicals from the body. Vegetarian foods are usually water-based, which helps in maintaining the required liquids in the body.
5. Reduces risk of diabetes
Non-vegetarians usually experience extreme levels of blood sugar, sometimes very high, just after consumption. This can be avoided and a constant flow of blood sugar can be maintained if the nonvegetarians swap over to a vegetarian diet.
Vegetarians tend to have lower blood sugar levels, higher insulin sensitivity and up to a 50–78% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
6. It Can Help You Lose Excess Weight
An increasing number of people are turning to plant-based diets in the hope of shedding excess weight.
This is perhaps for good reason.
Switching to a vegetarian diet may help a person lose weight, at least in the short-term, according to a 2016 meta-analysis.
Many observational studies show that vegans tend to be thinner and have lower body mass indexes (BMIs) than non-vegans.
7. Gives healthy skin
Fruits and vegetables that we eat are very rich in vitamins, minerals and also have sufficient antioxidants. Moreover, as they are water based, if you eat them raw it can further improve the intake of healthy nutrients. Many vegetarian foods also are rich sources of antioxidants that help you stay disease free, with healthier skin.