Being vegetarian has its health benefits. Avoiding meat, fish, and poultry, and eating a plant-based diet with a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts, can improve your health and be nutritionally adequate.
1. Vegetarians are less likely to die of heart disease.
Studies say it could be 19 to 25 percent less likely. Avoiding the saturated fat and cholesterol found in animal products and eating fiber-rich plant products that reduce cholesterol is beneficial to the heart.
2. Vegetarians are less likely to develop cancer compared to meat-eaters.
There are studies that find risks for breast cancer, colon cancer and prostate cancer are significantly less if you don’t eat meat.
3. Lower blood pressure.
A vegetarian diet can reduce a person’s blood pressure within two weeks. Vegetables and fruits are rich in potassium which helps lower blood pressure.
4. Lower risk of diabetes.
A diet low in fat and high in fiber and complex carbohydrates allows insulin to work more effectively. If you have diabetes, a vegetarian diet can often reduce the amount of insulin used.
5. Lower chance of kidney stones and gall stones.
Frequent meat consumption—and its high cholesterol, protein and saturated fat—increases the tendency for stones.
Considering going meatless?
“Vegetarians tend to eat less fat and cholesterol and more fiber, vitamins C and E, and potassium, among other nutrients,” said Melanie Boney, Salem Health registered dietitian. “This results in better cholesterol numbers, lower blood pressure and a lower body weight which reduces risk for many health issues.”
The community Health Education Center at Salem Health offers cooking classes every month. Join us to try something new—and maybe something meatless—this year!