Several months ago, we posted on the benefits of eating a vegetarian diet. By no means do we think everyone should be vegetarian. But the facts speak for themselves.
Vegetarians live longer, and they lead healthier lives.
The highlights from that post:
- Vegans have lower rates of obesity, which contributes to several chronic diseases.
- Vegetarians and vegans have lower rates of diabetes and are less insulin-resistant.
- Many vegetarian foods protect against cancer, especially those with high antioxidants.
- Vegetarians have less hypertension (high blood pressure).
- Vegetarians have a lower rate of cardiovascular disease.
That study was conducted on particular groups of vegetarians that tend to lead healthier lives. However, not all vegetarians get in their fruits and veggies.
Many vegetarians undermine themselves by cutting out meat but also continuing to eat unhealthy foods. If your diet consists of nothing but nachos and pizza, it doesn’t matter if you’re skipping the bacon and hamburgers. In addition, your diet not only lacks the health benefits of lean animal proteins (B12, amino acids, omega-3 fatty acids, etc.) but also the health benefits of eating large varieties of fruits and vegetables.
A more recent study looked a wide variety of vegetarians and non-vegetarians in the UK. After taking into account factors such as lifestyle, age, smoking, alcohol, exercise, and socioeconomic status, the researchers found that vegetarians had a 32% lower risk of heart disease. Part of this is due to that fact that vegetarians tend to have lower BMIs, blood pressures, and cholesterol levels. But even with BMI accounted for, vegetarians still had a 28% lower likelihood of developing heart disease.
Even without becoming completely vegetarian, you can still see positive health benefits from eating less meat and more vegetables. If you’re not vegetarian, current recommendations suggest eating fish at least twice a week and only a pound of red meat a week. On that note, vegetarians may be interested in this article on how health-conscious vegetarians are starting to eat meat in order to boost local economies and improve animal welfare.
But no matter what your choice in diet, make sure to eat a variety of fresh foods (veggies, fruits, lean meat, and fish), avoid processed foods (such as meal replacement bars, frozen dinners, and fast food), and get enough exercise.