I have quite a few clients that have chosen to follow a vegetarian diet and each one has their reasons. Some common misconceptions of a vegetarian or vegan diet are that you only eat salad and you have a free pass to load up on carbohydrates. This is not the case and that is why I’ve asked Andrea Young, RDN, LDN of Eat Right Bucks to shed some insight onto eating a healthy balanced vegetarian diet. Eat Right Bucks is located in Doylestown and was opened by licensed and registered dietician Kristie Finnan. I hope you enjoy!
The Healthy Vegetarian
Andrea Young, RDN, LDN
Being a vegetarian has its benefits and many studies have proven the health benefits of being a vegetarian, including decreasing total cholesterol, reducing rates of death from heart disease and decreasing incidences of hypertension, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. However, it is important for vegetarians to maintain a healthy balanced diet and lifestyle by eating adequate amounts of protein and continue to exercise.
Maintaining a Healthy Balanced Diet
Vegetarians may find is more challenging to consume all of the vitamins and minerals due to dietary restrictions, however when open minded to a variety of foods it becomes easy to consume them all. It’s important to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and quality protein sources. Additionally it is essential to try to incorporate carbohydrate, protein, and fat with each meal because each macronutrient plays an essential role in our bodies! The following is a list of vitamins and minerals vegetarians may be lacking as well as the foods (vegetarian and non-vegetarian sources) containing these vitamins and minerals.
• Vitamin B12 – organ meats, meat, poultry, fish, clams, oysters, milk; vegan vegetarians may require a supplement
• Vitamin D – self synthesis via sunlight; mushrooms, sunflower seeds, sprouted seeds, fortified milk, egg yolk, liver, fatty fish and fish oils
• Omega – 3 Fatty Acids – ground flax seeds, walnuts, soybeans, salmon, sardines, halibut, scallops, shrimp
• Calcium – nuts, green leafy vegetables, soy products, tofu with calcium added, dairy products, sardines, shellfish
• Iron – legumes, enriched grains, fortified cereals, dried fruits, green leafy vegetables, organ meats, red meat, poultry, fish, shellfish
• Zinc – soybeans, nuts, wheat germ, oysters, red meats
Importance of Exercise and Quality Protein Sources
Exercise is important for everyone including vegetarians. Exercise can help balance out calorie consumption; increase mood and can help boost energy; strengthen bones and muscles; and help combat health conditions and diseases associated with increased weight, such as Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease.
After exercising, it is important to consume protein to provide your muscles with the building blocks they need to build up your muscles. Protein is required for so many functions within the body, including for example, structure of cells, transportation of cells through the body, and production of hormones, enzymes, and antibodies. There are many quality protein sources that do not include meat, poultry, seafood, or dairy. Good sources of non-animal protein include the following.
• Legumes, Beans, Lentils,
• Nuts, Nut Butters, and Seeds
• Whole Grains, especially Quinoa
• Soy Products (Edamame, Soy Cheese, Soy Yogurt, Soy Milk)
• Protein Supplements (Pea Protein)
If you are looking to enhance your diet or overall health, make an appointment with a Registered/Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist at Eat Right Bucks. We see a variety of clients and we take insurance! Visit our website and book an appointment online at EatRightBucks.com or call us at 215-230-1900!