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5 HEALTH BENEFITS OF A VEGETARIAN DIET


Vegetarian diets focus on plant-based foods as the main source of nutrients. There are many types of vegetarian diets, and according to the Mayo Clinic, they are as follows:
  • Lacto-vegetarian diets exclude meat, fish, poultry, and eggs, as well as foods that contain them. Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter, are included.
  • Ovo-vegetarian diets exclude meat, poultry, seafood and dairy products, but allow eggs.
  • Lacto-Ovo vegetarian diets exclude meat, fish, and poultry, but allow dairy products and eggs.
  • Pescatarian diets exclude meat and poultry, dairy, and eggs, but allow fish.
  • Pollotarian diets exclude meat, dairy, and fish, but allow poultry.
  • Vegan diets exclude meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products — and foods that contain these products.
  • The one thing all vegetarian diets have in common is that they exclude meat, and all vegetarians but Pollotarians exclude poultry as well.
  • There are many benefits to cutting out meat and poultry from your diet. Vegetarians enjoy the following health benefits:

1. Lower cholesterol levels

On average, vegetarians have a lower total cholesterol concentration in their blood than non-vegetarians. This should come as no surprise, as meat is primarily comprised of saturated fatty acids, which increase ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol levels in the blood when eaten in excess.
Vegetarians who do not eat dairy products may have even lower cholesterol levels, as butter and full-fat cheese, milk, and yogurt all contain saturated fats which raise cholesterol levels.
High cholesterol levels put you at risk for heart disease and stroke, the two leading causes of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
If you have high cholesterol, your doctor will most likely recommend going on a diet which limits meat and dairy intake, as well as other foods which contain saturated fats.
5 HEALTH BENEFITS OF A VEGETARIAN DIET

2. Supports heart health

A diet which excludes meat is a heart-healthy diet. According to a study, people already diagnosed with a heart condition can reverse damage to the heart. Even in severe cases—through lifestyle changes such as switching to a vegetarian diet. Moreover, plant-based foods—such as nuts—are proven to have protective elements against ischemic heart disease (IHD) and to increase overall health and longevity.
5 HEALTH BENEFITS OF A VEGETARIAN DIET

3. More antioxidants

The more plant-based foods you eat, the more antioxidants you will consume. Antioxidants are compounds which inhibit the process of oxidation in the body. Oxidation forms free radicals, which are harmful toxins that cause damage to healthy cell DNA, leading to chronic inflammation, disease, and cancer. The more antioxidants you consume, the lower your risk of developing inflammatory disease or cancer.
Foods which contain antioxidants include fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds— which are eaten in abundance in vegetarian diets.
5 HEALTH BENEFITS OF A VEGETARIAN DIET

4. May reduce the risk of diabetes

Plant-based diets are beneficial to improving the incidence of type-2 diabetes. This is especially true for vegetarians who limit their intake of processed foods and sugar.
A 2011 study on people with type-2 diabetes found that a calorie-restricted vegetarian diet can improve insulin sensitivity more effectively than a conventional diabetic diet. Even more effective was a vegetarian diet paired with exercise.
5 HEALTH BENEFITS OF A VEGETARIAN DIET

5. Better digestion

Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes easily pass through your digestive system because they contain fiber and digestive enzymes that make the digestion process more efficient—speeding it up, but also allowing a higher rate of absorption of essential nutrients. Meat lacks fiber, and protein and fat take a long time for your body to break down. Many people who eat meat have problems with digestion. Whereas people on plant-based diets often have smooth digestion and fewer gastrointestinal issues.
5 HEALTH BENEFITS OF A VEGETARIAN DIET

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