Zee Media Bureau/Salome Phelamei
Being a vegetarian doesn't mean you'll be deficient in nutrients. In fact, going meatless even for a few days (if not for life) may be a healthier option for you.
Research suggests that following a vegetarian diet can yield health benefits as it reduces your risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.
If you are limiting your meat intake or a vegetarian, make sure that you plan a diet that gives you all required nutrients by including a variety of foods. Here's how you can plan a healthy vegetarian diet:
We need calcium to keep our bones and teeth strong. Milk and dairy foods are the highest source of calcium. Food sources rick in calcium include - dark green vegetables like turnip, collard greens, kale, broccoli. Juices, cereals, soy milk, soy yogurt and tofu, are other options.
Naturally present in few foods, including fatty fish such as herring, mackerel, sardines and tuna, vitamin D is important for your bone health. It is added to some foods like cow's milk, some brands of soy and rice milk, and some cereals and margarines.
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, essential to produce red blood cells and prevent anemia. Since vitamin is found almost exclusively in animal products, vegetarians may not be getting enough of it. Vitamin B-12 deficiency can cause some serious health problems. Hence, vegans may conside taking suplements so that they don't lack this nutrient.
Proteins are the building blocks of life. Every cell in your body contains protein. We need protein to maintain healthy skin, bones, muscles and organs. It can be found in almost every food we eat. Plant-based foods high in protein are – legumes, lentils, beans, nuts, seeds, soy products, whole grains etc.
Iodine helps regulate metabolism, growth and function of key organs. Vegans may not get enough iodine since it is found primarily in seafood. But, adding iodized salt and kelp in diet can help avoid iodine deficiency.
Iron is crucial for our body as it does many many things, which includes carrying oxygen in the blood. Good sources of iron include - dried beans and peas, lentils, enriched cereals, whole-grain products, dark leafy green vegetables and dried fruit.
The human body needs zinc for proper growth and maintenance. It is also essential for the body's immune system to properly work. Whole grains, soy products, legumes, nuts and wheat germ are some plant sources of zinc.
Omega-3 fatty acids:
Omega-3 fatty acids are important for eye and heart health. A diet high in omega-3 fatty acids may give many health benefits – from mental and behavioral health to preventing premature death from various diseases. Food sources rich in omega-3 fatty acids include flaxseed, walnuts, canola oil, soy oil and soybeans.