Friday, August 17, 2012

Be a Healthy Vegetarian


Have you thought about changing your diet, but don't know where to start? Many studies show that there are great health (and environmental) benefits to reducing one's consumption of animal products. If you're ready to try it out, or are already a vegetarian but need some direction, we have compiled some helpful tips from Brown University's Health Education:
What is the healthiest way to become a vegetarian?

Some people stop eating meat "cold turkey." Others may prefer to make dietary changes more gradually. However you choose to make the change, you can begin to achieve the health benefits of vegetarianism by significantly cutting down on the amount of meats consumed, and making vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains the focus of your meals. The ADA suggests the following tips for following a vegetarian diet:


  • Choose whole-grain products (e.g. whole wheat bread, brown rice, or whole-grain cereals instead of refined or white grains).
  • Eat a wide variety of foods.
  • If you eat dairy products, choose non-fat or low-fat varieties.
  • Use eggs in moderation.
  • Limit intake of sweets and high fat foods.
  • Use a regular source of vitamin B-12, and if sunlight exposure is limited, of vitamin D.






Do vegetarians get proper nutrition?
The key to any healthy diet is to choose a wide variety of foods, and to consume enough calories to meet your energy needs. It is important for vegetarians to pay attention to these five categories in particular.
Protein
Protein is found in both plant foods and animal foods. The ADA has said that it is NOT necessary to combine specific foods within a meal in order to "complete" the amino acids profile of the proteins found in plant foods. Eating a wide variety of foods and enough calories during the day will fulfill your protein needs. Good sources of protein include whole grains, lentils, beans, tofu, low-fat dairy products, nuts, seeds, tempeh, eggs, and peas.
Calcium
The ADA recommends that adults 19 to 50-years-old consume at least 1000mg of calcium per day -- the equivalent of 3 cups of milk or yogurt. Vegetarians can meet their calcium needs if they consume adequate amounts of low-fat and fat-free dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese. Calcium is also found in many plant foods including dark, leafy greens (e.g. spinach, kale, mustard, collard and turnip greens, and bok choy), broccoli, beans, dried figs, and sunflower seeds, as well as in calcium-fortified cereals, cereal bars and some fortified juices.
Vegans (people who don't eat any animal products) must strive to meet their daily calcium requirements by regularly including these plant sources of calcium in their diets. Many soy milk products are fortified with calcium, but be sure to check the label for this. You can also include a calcium supplement in your diet, which is available at the pharmacy in Health Services.
Vitamin D
Vitamin D helps your body absorb and use calcium. There are few foods that are naturally high in vitamin D, though. Therefore, dairy products in the US are fortified with vitamin D. Many soy milk products are also fortified with vitamin D. Your body can make its own vitamin D, but only when the skin is exposed to adequate sunlight (but that can have its own risks). People who do not consume dairy products and who do not receive direct exposure to sunlight regularly should consider taking supplemental vitamin D. The recommended intake of Vitamin D for college students is 200 international units (IU) per day.  Despite research suggesting that higher intakes of vitamin D may be protective against a variety of diseases, intakes above 2000 IU per day can result in vitamin D toxicity. 
Iron
Iron-fortified breads and cereals, dark green vegetables (e.g. spinach and broccoli), dried fruits, prune juice, blackstrap molasses, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and soybean nuts are good plant sources of iron. Consuming foods high in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits or juices, tomatoes, and green peppers helps your body absorb iron from these plant sources. Cooking food in iron pots and pans will also add to your iron intake.
Vitamin B-12
Vitamin B-12 is produced in animals and by bacteria in the soil. Vegetarians who consume dairy products and/or eggs usually get enough B-12 since it is found in these foods. Vegans, however, should add vitamin B-12 fortified soy milk to their diets. Regularly taking a broad-spectrum multivitamin and mineral supplement will also supply the necessary amount of B-12.

Read more from the Brown University Health Education center here

To learn more about nutritional supplements for vegetarians, speak with a Perelandra employee at the vitamin counter.

No comments:

Post a Comment