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.
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.
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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 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.
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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.
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.
of vitamin C
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.
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.
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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.
of Folic Acid
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
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.
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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.