A vegetarian diet can be a very healthy eating plan. People may find following a vegetarian diet beneficial for many health, environmental, religious or economic reasons. A vegetarian diet may:
Health Benefits of a Vegetarian Diet
Many plant foods are low in saturated fat and high in dietary fibre, which are two important aspects of a healthy diet. Many studies have shown positive health benefits of a vegetarian diet. These can include:
A carefully planned vegetarian diet is healthy, but an imbalanced vegetarian diet is not. A healthy vegetarian diet includes a wide variety of foods to ensure it is well balanced and nutritionally adequate.
There are three main types of vegetarian diets:
Some Important Nutrients to Consider in A Vegetarian Diet.
Although a vegetarian diet can be very healthy, there are some nutrients that may be inadequate if the diet is not well planned. The stricter the diet, the greater the risk of deficiencies. Ensure your healthy vegetarian diet includes adequate amounts of these nutrients.
Some Important nutrients to consider in a vegetarian diet.
Good food sources of iron include green leafy vegetables, peas and wholegrain breads, enriched cereals, legumes and lentils. The iron from plant foods (non-haem) is not absorbed very efficiently by the body. However vitamin C-rich foods taken at the same time can enhance the iron absorption. Adequate iron intake is necessary to prevent iron deficiency, which can cause anaemia and impaired ability to concentrate, and increased irritability.
(vegans may be at an increased risk of inadequate intake). Deficiency of Vitamin B12 can cause anaemia and nervous system problems. Although vitamin B12 can be found in dairy products and eggs, lacto-ovo vegetarians are often found to have low vitamin B12 levels. Very small amounts of vitamin B12 can be found in fortified soymilk, but it is recommended vegans take vitamin B12 supplements. The best sources of B12 are animal foods: meat, liver, dairy products, fish and eggs.
Zinc is important for growth, and our immune system. Good food sources of zinc include nuts, tofu, miso, legumes and wholegrain foods.
(vegans may be at an increased risk of inadequate intake). Needed for strong bones and teeth, and an inadequate calcium intake may lead to osteoporosis. Good food sources of calcium include dairy products, leafy dark green vegetables, broccoli, legumes, almonds, fortified soymilk, tahini and tofu.
An essential part of our diet for all growth and body repair, it is a part of every chemical reaction in our body. Good plant sources of protein include: legumes, such as beans, peas and lentils, nuts, seeds, soy products, including tempeh and tofu, and whole grains. All types of plant protein sources should be included in the diet for a complete protein intake.
Inadequate intake can cause weight loss and impaired growth and development in children. Ensure that adequate energy intake is achieved - monitor weight as your best guide.
A Balanced Vegetarian Diet is a diet that replaces animal foods with other foods that provide similar nutrients. A healthy vegetarian diet should include each day:
A healthy vegetarian diet should also limit less nutritious foods that are high in saturated fat, salt and sugar including:
The entire range of Orgran products are suitable for vegetarians. For those following any type of vegetarian diet (including Vegans), Orgran products are ideal as they contain no animal products. For those wanting to follow general principles of healthy eating, you can enjoy the benefits of alternative grains with Orgran's great range of pastas, crispbreads, bread and baking mixes, breakfast cereals and biscuits. Orgran products are a delicious inclusion in a nutritious vegetarian diet.
For more information on how to plan a nutritionally adequate vegetarian diet, contact an Accredited Practising Dietitian.
This information was provided for general use only. Please seek medical advice from a GP or health professional before considering undertaking any diet.