Vegetarianism and nutrition

In this section we describe the benefits to our body's nutrition of adopting a vegetarian diet. Today it is clear to doctors and nutritionists that a well-run vegetarian diet is complete in nutrients, does not present deficiencies and instead it brings various benefits.

Among the first benefits we should list are:

  • The vegetarian diet has higher levels of carbohydrates, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemical substances.
  • The vegetarian diet contains lower levels of saturated fats and contains no cholesterol.
  • Simply by varying the plant foods that are consumed, the body gets all the protein you need through the essential amino-acids that the plants contain.

Minerals and vegetarianism

Vegetarian foods contain a lot of minerals. These include iron, zinc, calcium, etc.

Calcium

Everyone has heard that we have to drink milk and eat dairy to acquire calcium. However, few of us have heard that many plant foods have more calcium than milk.

Among the foods that contain calcium we have again legumes such as beans, soybeans and chickpeas; seeds such as almonds; fruits like figs and oranges; and vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and turnip.

Calcium per serving of 100g
Food
Milligrams
of Calcium
Amaranth 490
Chard 210
Beans 140
Glass of cow's milk 113
Broccoli 47
Orange 43

Iron

Among the foods that contain iron are legumes such as beans, lentils, chickpeas; seeds such as almonds, peanuts, cashews; cereals such as wheat, barley, oats; fruits like figs, grapes, plums; and vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, mushrooms.

Potassium

Potassium is essential for neuronal activity and for the osmotic balance in every cell in the body. It is very important to consume adequate amounts of potassium and to ensure that in contrast, the amount of sodium in the body is limited.

Potassium per serving of 100g
Food Milligrams of
Potassium

Wheat

892
Potato 421
Banana 358
Chickpeas 291
Barley 280
Orange 169
Grapefruit 148
Glass of cow's milk 143

 

Zinc

Among the foods that contain zinc we have again legumes such as soybeans, beans, chickpeas, beans, lentils; seeds such as almonds, cashews, peanuts; grains like barley and wheat; and vegetables such as mushrooms.

 


Vitamins and vegetarianism

Vegetarian foods also contain lots of vitamins. Among them we have vitamin D, vitamin A, and folic acid.

Vitamin C

We have all heard that oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C, but note that there are several fruits  that have even greater amounts.

Vitamin C per serving of 100g
Food
Micrograms
of vitamin C
Red pepper 190

Guava

100
Kiwi 90
Broccoli 90
Papaya 60
Strawberry 60
Orange 50
Lemon 40
Spinach 40
Grapefruit 33
Potato 20

Vitamin D

In many countries some foods of both animal origin sand vegetable origin are fortified to increase their contents of vitamin D. This is because the vitamin D is found in foods in very small quantities.

Did you know that your body makes vitamin D when exposed to sunlight?

Therefore it is only necessary to emphasize that what you need is frequent but careful exposure to the sun, so that vitamin D is produced and in turn, it helps to absorb calcium.

Vitamin A

Among the foods with vitamin A we have vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, broccoli, cabbage, spinach, lettuce, pumpkin; fruits like melon, peach, papaya and mango. Note that while a glass of milk has about 28 micrograms of vitamin A, many vegetables have much more.

Vitamin A in 100g portions
Food

Micrograms
of Vitamin A

Carrot 835
Potato 700
Chard 333
Melon 169
Mango 38
Peas 38
Broccoli 31
Glass of cow's milk 28

 

Folic Acid

Among the foods with folic acid are legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, beans; green leafy vegetables like spinach, green lettuce; dried fruit and seeds. Note that it is not necessary to use food supplements.

Folic acid per serving of 100g
Food
Micrograms
of Folic Acid
Beans 394
Spinach 194
Chickpeas 172
Radish 118
Lettuce 73
Peas 65
Oats 56

 

 


 

Omega-3 and vegetarianism

We have all heard about the importance of fatty acids such as Omega-3, which is why some people recommend eating fish. However, it is not necessary to use fish to get omega-3.

To obtain omega-3 just eat some plant foods such as:

  • Hemp seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Nuts
  • Almonds

Again, it is not necessary to eat animal foods to get our nutrients.

 


 

Proteins and vegetarianism

Perhaps the toughest discussion on vegetarianism, is whether plant-based diets contain as much protein as those found in animal products. It is also a major concern for those who are in, or want to follow a vegetarian diet.

We must begin this discussion by noting that what we must pursue is to consume the right amount of nutrients needed by the body, and not to seek to consume very high amounts in hope of being healthy. Like other nutrient substances, the protein consumed beyond the amount needed by the body is discarded or converted to fat.

That said, we can now mention that there are good amounts of protein in plant foods. Our favorite foods for protein are oats, wheat, barley, potato, chickpeas, lentils, beans, etc .; This is because they contain important quantities of protein and in combination are sufficient for normal requirements.

There are other foods that contain vegetable protein, and soy beans stand out, they are remarkable for having protein in amounts as high as in meat. Another food that stands out is gluten, which is wheat protein extract.

Protein per serving of 100g
Food Grams
protein
Lentil 26
Bean 24
Fava beans 23
Wheat 23
Oats 17
Barley 10
Chickpeas 9
Glass of cow's milk 3

 

However, as we said earlier, the important goal is to seek to meet the needs of the body, instead of seeking to eat as much protein as found animal based diets, as these animal based diets have often much more protein than required by our bodies.

Vegan How-To

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