Want to know what I think? It depends…
It depends on what goes in instead of meat. It’s typically commonplace knowledge that red meats and the sort have high levels of fat and cholesterol…loads more of harmful things not found in vegetables (unless you fry them), but what if you replace that with things just as unhealthy?
Ridding your diet of meat to replace it with high carb, high sugar foods isn’t going to do you any good either. When I became a vegetarian my freshman year of college, I thought I’d immediately lose weight. My perception of a healthy body was also skewed at this time. I did not lose weight, I didn’t really weigh myself, but I could feel it and see it. My clothes fit tighter and I felt bloated a lot after I first became vegetarian.
I initially became vegetarian because in the fall of my freshman year, I would get terribly sick…like running to the bathroom in the middle of the night sick. Some of it may have been a mixture of anxiety and nerves, but I (for whatever reason) was convinced it was something I was eating in the cafeteria food. So, I read into vegetarianism, and I made up my personal opinion that I’d be healthier if I stopped eating meat. I replaced meat with pasta, breads and sweets. I figured giving up meat allowed me to do this.
I’m pretty sure I didn’t add too many extra veggies and fruits to my diet at the time. Since then, I’ve got a better hold on being a vegetarian. Now I pile on the veggies and fruits to my plate, and I add the grains last. I always try to have a bigger proportion of veggies than anything else. I nearly entirely cut out things like chips and processed snack foods as well. I have the occasional quick snack, but for the most part, I’m pretty good about keeping those out. I also tend to get headaches and what I call “mind fog” when I eat processed foods, so as soon as I cut those out I noticed less headaches,etc.
Anyways, the main point of this article is to give you some insight into why being a true vegetarian (eating more whole vegetables and fruits-not just pastas, breads, sweets) can help your health!
A study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found:
- Vegetarians had a 32% lower risk of ending up in the hospital or dying from ischemic heart disease than nonvegetarians
- Vegetarians had a lower BMI
- Vegetarians had a lower LDL cholesterol level (“bad” cholesterol)
American Dietetic Association position statement on Vegetarian Diets
- According to the ADA, vegetarian diets are appropriate during all life cycles (pregnancy, childhood, adolescence, etc)
- Lower blood cholesterol levels
- Lower risk of heart disease
- Lower blood pressure levels
- Lower risk of hypertension & Type 2 diabetes
- Vegetarians tend to have lower overall cancer rates
- Vegetarian diets tend to have high levels of dietary fiber, magnesium, potassium, Vitamins C and E, folate, carotenoids, flavonoids, and phytochemicals.
Interested in becoming a vegetarian? Here are some links to great resources to get you started.
- http://pcrm.org/health/diets/pplate/power-plate –This is a cool website that explains a “power plate” instead of a food pyramid
Note…I am not a registered dietitian. This is my personal opinion about being a vegetarian. However, the facts presented about vegetarian diets were pulled from scientific studies.
Technorati Tags: Vegetarian,Healthy,Heart Disease