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Health benefits of vegetarian diet

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To convert a meat eater to a vegetarian diet can sometimes take a lot of convincing. So the best way is to put the facts on the table – through latest research. If there are visible benefits of a vegetarian diet in improving health, they can’t be easily overlooked.  

A recent study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine analyzed data from as many as seven clinical studies, and 32 other research studies - published between 1900 and 2013. Participants kept a diet that was vegetarian, and found that they had lower blood pressure compared to people who consumed meat. This means a vegetarian diet changed the way the body was operating, and reversed a negative health condition.

But whom do you call a vegetarian?

If you are a vegetarian, it generally means that the person does not eat animal products including sea and land animals. There are many vegetarians who eat eggs and dairy products such as milk products.

But someone who does not eat any animal protein at all - not even dairy, eggs, and honey is a vegan or a vegetarian. There are also people who call themselves vegetarians but enjoy eating fish.

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On the whole, there are four main types of vegetarians:

Lacto-vegetarians: Eat dairy products, honey but not eggs.

Ovo-vegetarians: Eat eggs, honey but not dairy products.

Lacto-ovovegetarians: Eat consume eggs, dairy, and honey.

Vegans: Only eat plant-based foods - so no eggs, dairy or honey

You don’t have to draw a strict line. There’s nothing wrong with having meat once in a while. But if you want to live a long and healthy life – giving up meat and taking up a vegetarian diet is the best possible diet solution.

Eight reasons why vegetarians may outlive meat-lovers

Low blood pressure: In a recent study, researchers found that vegetarians not only have lower blood pressure on an average but that a vegetarian diet also lowered blood pressure among people who needed a serious intervention.

Lower risk of death: In 2013, a study of more than 70,000 people indicated that vegetarians had a 12 percent lower risk of death vis-à-vis non-vegetarians. As meat eating did not result in saturated fat and cholesterol clogging arteries - vegetarians were at a lower risk for chronic diseases.

Scientists at the University of Toronto and St. Michael's Hospital proved that a vegetarian diet comprising of particular plant foods can decrease cholesterol as effectively as prescribed drugs.

As mentioned above, a huge benefit of a vegetarian diet is that it reduces LDL or the 'bad' cholesterol, which causes clogging in coronary arteries. In the St. Michael's study, the diet decreased bad cholesterol by almost 29 percent. The diet the researchers used comprised of soy proteins, viscous fiber (high-fiber) foods such as oats and barley, nuts (almonds), and a special margarine with plant sterols (found in leafy green vegetables and vegetable oils).

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Better moods: In a study published in 2012, participants were split randomly into a three diets: fish only, all-meat allowed, and vegetarian no-meat. Researchers found that after two weeks, the participants on a vegetarian diet were in a better mood compared with those on the other two diets.

Less chance of heart disease: Another 2013 study of 44,000 people found that vegetarians were 32 percent less prone to develop ischemic heart disease.

Lower risk of cancer: In California’s Loma Linda University, researchers studied different versions of the vegetarian diet and cancer risk among people who were at a low risk for cancer overall. They discovered that a vegetarian diet may have protective benefits, reported health website menshealth.

Lower risk of diabetes: Studies have indicated that vegetarians are at a lesser risk for developing diabetes. A vegetarian the diet will not cure the disease – it can lower an individual’s risk by helping them maintain weight and improve blood sugar control.

Less likely to be overweight: Vegetarians are leaner than their meat-eating counterparts. They also tend to have lower body mass index (BMI). Some data suggests that a major benefit of a vegetarian diet is that it can help with weight loss over a period of time.

Dangers vegetarians should avoid

But to put things in perspective, people who don’t eat vegetarian food can still be quite healthy. What’s more - a vegetarian diet comes with its own health disadvantages. For example, research has also shown that vegetarians are at a greater risk for iron deficiencies.

Some experts question whether children who are given only vegetarian diet intake the right amount of nutrients for their developing bodies.

So, there are many big-ticket benefits of a vegetarian diet. The best way is to approach a dietician who can construct the right kind of vegetarian diet for you so that it meets all your requirements – whether you are healthy or dealing with a medical condition.

Written by: healthplus24.com team

Date last updated: February 06, 2015

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