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Health Benefits of Vegetarian Diets

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  • 7/31/2019 Health Benefits of Vegetarian Diets


    Health Benefits of Vegetarian Diets

    Recently, there has been a renewed interest in vegetarian diets. Today

    there are countless books, cookbooks, and magazine articles promoting

    vegetarian diets and providing guidance for those who wish to follow a meatless









  • 7/31/2019 Health Benefits of Vegetarian Diets


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  • 7/31/2019 Health Benefits of Vegetarian Diets


    Health Benefits of Vegetarian Diets

    Author: Winston Craig, MPH, PhD, RD.

    Vegetarian diets have many health benefits

    Recently, there has been a renewed interest in vegetarian diets. Today there are

    countless books, cookbooks, and magazine articles promoting vegetarian diets

    and providing guidance for those who wish to follow a meatless diet.

    A Short Historical Perspective on Vegetarian Diets

    In the past, many viewed vegetarianism as strange and faddish but appropriately

    planned vegetarian diets are now recognized by many, including the American

    Dietetic Association, as being nutritionally adequate, and providing healthful

    benefits in the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases (1).

    Choosing a nonvegetarian lifestyle has a significant health and medical cost. The

    total direct medical costs in the United States attributable to meat consumption

    were estimated to be $30-60 billion a year, based upon the higher prevalence of

    hypertension, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, gallstones, obesity and food-borne

    illness among omnivores compared with vegetarians (2).

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    Tomatoes and Health

    Top Ten Foods

    Soy and Health

    Health Benefits of Whole Grains

    Health Benefits of Fruits

    Health Benefits of Vegetables

    A large body of scientific literature suggests that the consumption of a diet ofwhole grains, legumes, vegetables, nuts, and fruits, with the avoidance of meat

    and high-fat animal products, along with a regular exercise program is

    consistently associated with lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure,

    less obesity and consequently less heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, and

    mortality (1,3, 4). In African-Americans, the frequent consumption of nuts, fruits

    and green salads was associated with 35-44 percent lower risk of overall

    mortality (5).

    Distinguishing Feature

    A vegetarian diet is distinguished from an omnivorous diet by its content of dry

    beans and lentils. These take the place of meat and fish as the major source of

    protein. And there are so many different kinds of beans you can choose from -

    kidney, lima, pinto, cranberry, navy, Great Northern, garbanzo, soy beans, and

    black-eyed peas. These can be served with rice, added to soups, stews, and

    salads or a variety of casseroles, and made into different ethnic dishes.

    Tofu, or soy bean curd, can be used in dips and spreads, or served with pasta or

    stir-fried vegetables. Soy protein contains isoflavones, such as genistein and

    daidzein, that act as phytoestrogens and inhibit tumor growth, lower blood

    cholesterol levels, decrease the risk of blood clots, and diminish bone loss. These

    benefits clearly translate into a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and

    osteoporosis (6).

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    Cancer Protection

    A major report published by the World Cancer Research Fund in 1997recommended we lower our risk of cancer by choosing predominantly plant-

    based diets rich in a variety of vegetables and fruits, legumes and minimally

    processed starchy staple foods, and to limit the intake of grilled, cured and

    smoked meats and fish. These methods of preparing meat produce polycyclic

    aromatic hydrocarbons and heterocyclic amines which are carcinogenic (11).

    Over 200 studies have revealed that a regular consumption of fruits and

    vegetables provides significant protection against cancer at many sites. People

    who consume higher amounts of fruits and vegetables have about one-half therisk of cancer, especially the epithelial cancers (7). The risk of most cancers was

    20-50% lower in those with a high versus a low consumption of whole grains (8).

    About three dozen plant foods have been identified as possessing cancer-

    protective properties. These include cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels

    sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower), umbelliferous vegetables and herbs (carrots,

    celery, cilantro, caraway, dill, parsley), other fruits and vegetables (citrus,

    tomatoes, cucumber, grapes, cantaloupe, berries), beans (soybeans), whole

    grains (brown rice, oats, whole wheat), flaxseed, many nuts, and variousseasoning herbs (garlic, scallions, onions, chives, ginger, turmeric, rosemary,

    thyme, oregano, sage, and basil)(9).

    These foods and herbs contain of host of cancer-protective phytochemicals such

    as carotenoids, flavonoids, isothiocyanates, isoflavones, ellagic acid, glucarates,

    curcurmins, liminoids, lignans, phenolic acids, phthalides, saponins, phytosterols,

    sulfide compounds, terpenoids, and tocotrienols. These beneficial compounds

    alter metabolic pathways and hormonal actions that are associated with the

    development of cancer, stimulate the immune system, and have antioxidantactivity (10).

    Heart Disease

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    Regular fruit and vegetable consumption reduces the risk of ischemic heart

    disease. A recent survey of 47,000 Italians found that persons in the highest

    tertile of vegetable consumption had a 21and 11% reduced risk of myocardial

    infarction and angina, respectively, compared with those in the lowest tertile of

    vegetable consumption (12).

    A British study found that daily consumption of fresh fruit was associated with a

    24 percent reduction in mortality from heart disease and a 32 percent reduction

    in death from cerebrovascular disease, compared with less frequent fruit

    consumption. Daily consumption of raw salad was associated with a 26 percent

    reduction in mortality from heart disease (13).

    In another study, lifelong vegetarians had a 24 percent lower incidence and

    lifelong vegans (those who eat no eggs or dairy products) had a 57 percent lowerincidence of coronary heart disease compared to meat eaters (14). Healthy

    volunteers who consumed a vegetarian diet (25% of calories as fat) that was rich

    in green, leafy vegetables and other low-calorie vegetables (tomatoes,

    cucumbers, carrots, bell peppers, celery, green beans, etc.), fruits, nuts, sweet

    corn and peas experienced after two weeks decreases of 25, 33, 20 and 21

    percent in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and total/HDL

    cholesterol ratio, respectively (15).

    Various factors exist in fruits and vegetables that provide possible protectionagainst cardiovascular disease. These factors include folic acid, dietary fiber,

    potassium, magnesium, carotenoids, phytosterols, flavonoids, and other

    polyphenolic antioxidants. Typically, vegetarian diets are also somewhat lower in

    saturated fat and cholesterol. Vegetarians typically have lower blood cholesterol

    levels. Plant diets rich in soluble fiber (such as found in dry beans, oats, carrots,

    squash, apples, and citrus) are useful for lowering serum cholesterol levels.

    The many flavonoids in fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains, have extensive

    biological properties that reduce the risk of heart disease. Flavonoids are amongthe most potent antioxidants. They protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation;

    inhibit the formation of blood clots; and have hypolipidemic effects and anti-

    inflammatory action (16). European studies found that those who had the

    highest consumption of flavonoids had 60 percent less mortality from heart

    disease and 70 percent lower risk of stroke than the low flavonoid consumers


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    The yellow-orange and red carotenoid pigments in fruits and vegetables are

    powerful antioxidants that can quench free radicals and protect against

    cholesterol oxidation. Persons with high levels of serum carotenoids have a

    reduced risk of heart disease. The recent EURAMIC study found that a high

    intake of lycopene (the red pigment in tomatoes, pink grapefruit, and

    watermelon) was associated in men with a 48 percent lower risk of a myocardial

    infarction compared with a low intake of lycopene (19). Cholesterol synthesis is

    suppressed and LDL receptor activity is augmented by the carotenoids beta-

    carotene and lycopene, similar to that seen with the drug fluvastatin (20).

    Berries, Beans and Grains

    Anthocyanin pigments, the reddish pigments found in fruits, such as

    strawberries, cherries, cranberries, raspberries, blueberries, grapes, and black

    currants, are very effective in scavenging free radicals, inhibiting LDL cholesterol

    oxidation and inhibiting platelet aggregation. Various terpenoids in fruits and

    vegetables, and tocotrienols in nuts and seeds facilitate lower blood cholesterol

    levels, by inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase (21). Garlic, onions and other members

    of the Allium family, contain a variety of ajoenes, vinyldithiins, and other sulfide

    compounds that have antithrombotic action and may lower blood cholesterol and

    triglyceride levels.

    A number of studies have shown that legumes lower blood cholesterol levels,

    improve blood sugar control, and lower triglyceride levels. Since beans are good

    sources of soluble fiber, vegetable protein, saponins, phytosterols and

    polyunsaturated fat, consuming a diet rich in legumes will lower risk of heart


    In the Nurses' Health Study, the highest consumption of whole grains was

    associated with about a 35-40% reduction in risk of heart disease, stroke, andtype 2 diabetes. In the Adventist Health Study a regular consumption of whole

    wheat bread was associated with a 40 to 50% reduced risk of fatal and non-fatal

    heart disease.

    Nut Studies

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    Epidemiological studies have consistently reported that frequent nut

    consumption is associated with a 30-60% reduction in the risk of coronary heart

    disease (22). A number of clinical trials have demonstrated the effectiveness of

    diets containing almonds, pecans, peanuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, macadamia

    nuts, or walnuts to significantly lower LDL cholesterol levels by 7 to 16 percent,

    without much change in HDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels (22).

    While nuts are high in fat, they are naturally low in saturated fat and most are

    quite rich in monounsaturated fat. Nuts also contain a number of vitamins,

    minerals and other substances important for cardiovascular health, such as

    potassium, magnesium, vitamin E, folic acid, copper, and dietary fiber. In

    addition, most nuts contain phytosterols, tocotrienols, and protective

    polyphenolics such as ellagic acid and flavonoids (23).

    Stroke and Diabetes

    Data from two prospective studie supports a protective relationship between

    fruit and vegetable consumption and risk of ischemic stroke (24). Cruciferous

    and green leafy vegetables and citrus fruits were the most protective. Data from

    the NHANES study revealed that consuming fruit and vegetables three or more

    times a day compared with less than once a day was associated with a 27%lower incidence of stroke, a 42% lower stroke mortality, a 27% lower

    cardiovascular disease mortality, and a 15% lower all-cause mortality (25). In the

    Adventist Health Study, non-vegetarians had a risk of fatal stroke that was 20-

    30% higher than the vegetarians. Data from population studies and human trials

    provide evidence that vegetarian dietary patterns lower blood pressure (26).

    Lower systolic blood pressures in elderly vegetarians has been reported to be

    best accounted for by their lower body weight (27). Vegetarians living in

    northern Mexico, were found to have lower body weights, higher potassium and

    lower sodium intakes, and lower mean blood pressures than non-vegetarians


    Higher consumption of nuts (29) and whole grains (30) has been associated with

    lower rates of diabetes. In a large prospective study, fruit and vegetable intake

    was found to be inversely associated with the incidence of diabetes, particularly

    among women (31). Men and women who reported seldom or never eating fruit

    or green leafy vegetables had higher mean HbA1C levels than those who had

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    more frequent consumption (32). An increased consumption of fruit and

    vegetables appears to contribute to the prevention of diabetes.


    The consumption of a generous supply of whole grains, legumes, nuts, fruits and

    vegetables provides protection against chronic diseases such as cancer,

    cardiovascular disease and diabetes. A plant-based diet is rich in its content of

    health-promoting factors such as the many phytochemicals.

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    1.Messina V, Burke K. Position of The American Dietetic Association: VegetarianDiets. J Am Diet Assoc 1997; 97: 1317-21.

    2. Barnard ND, Nicholson A, and Howard JL. The medical costs attributable to

    meat consumption. Prev Med 1995;24:646-55.

    3.Snowdon DA, Phillips RL. Does a vegetarian diet reduce the occurrence of

    diabetes? Am J Publ Health 1985;75: 507-512.

    4.Dwyer JT. Health aspects of vegetarian diets. Am J Clin Nutr 1988;48: 712-38.

    5.Fraser GE, Sumbureru D, Pribis S, et al. Association among health habits, risk

    factors, and all-cause mortality in a black California population. Epidemiology1997;8:168-74.

    6.Setchell KDR. Phytoestrogens: the biochemistry, physiology, and implications

    for human health of soy isoflavones. Am J Clin Nutr 1998;68(suppl):1333S-46S

    7.Steinmetz K, Potter J. Vegetables, fruit and cancer, I. Epidemiology. Cancer

    Causes Control 1991;2(suppl):325-57.

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    8.Jacobs DR, Marquart L, Slavin J, et al. Whole-grain intake and cancer: an

    expanded review and meta-analysis. Nutr Cancer 1998;30:85-96.

    9.Caragay AB. Cancer-preventative foods and ingredients. Food Tech


    10.Craig WJ. Nutrition and Wellness. A Vegetarian Way to Better Health. GoldenHarvest Books, Berrien Springs, MI, 1999.

    11.World Cancer Research Fund. Food, Nutrition and the Prevention of Cancer: A

    Global Perspective. World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer

    Research, Washington DC, 1997.

    12.Kafatos A, Diacatou A, Voukiklaris G, et al. Heart disease risk-factor status

    and dietary changes in the cretan population over the past 30 y: the seven

    countries study. Am J Clin Nutr 1997;65:1882-6.

    13.Key TJA, Thorogood M, Appleby PN, et al. Dietary habits and mortality in11,000 vegetarians and health conscious people: results of 17-year follow up.

    BMJ 1996;313:775-79.

    14.Thorogood M, Carter R, et al. Plasma lipids and lipoprotein cholesterol

    concentrations in people with different diets in Britain. Br Med J 1987;295: 351-3.

    15.Jenkins DJA, Popovich D, Kendall C, et al. Effect of a diet high in vegetables,

    fruit, and nuts on serum lipids. Metabolism 1997;46:530-7.

    16.Manach C, Regerat F, Texier O, et al. Bioavailability, metabolism and

    physiological impact of 4-oxo-flavonoids. Nutr Res 1996;16:517-44.

    17.Hertog MGL , Feskens EJM, Hollman PC, et al. Dietary antioxidant flavonoids

    and risk of coronary heart disease. Lancet 1993:342:1007-11.

    18.Keli SO, Hertog MG, Feskins EJ, et al. Dietary flavonoids, antioxidant vitamins,

    and incidence of stroke: the zutphen study. Arch Intern Med 1996;156:637-42.

    19.Clinton SK. Lycopene: chemistry, biology, and implications for human health

    and disease. Nutr Rev 1998;56:35-51.

    20.Fuhrman B, Elis A, Aviram M. hypocholesterolemic effect of lycopene and

    beta-carotene is related to suppression of cholesterol synthesis andaugmentation of ldl receptor activity in macrophages. Biochem Biophys Res

    Comm 1997; 233: 658-62.

    21.Pearce BC, Parker RA, Deason ME, et al. Hypocholesterolemic activity of

    synthetic and natural tocotrienols. J Med Chem 1992;35:3595-606.

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    22.Kris-Etherton PM, Zhao G, Binkoski AE, Coval SM, Etherton TD. The effects of

    nuts on coronary heart disease risk. Nutr Rev 2001 Apr;59(4):103-11

    23.Dreher ML, Maher CV, Kearney P. the traditional and emerging role of nuts in

    healthful diets. Nutr Rev 1996;54:241-5.

    24.Joshipura KJ, Ascherio A, Manson JF, et al. Fruit and vegetable intake inrelation to risk of ischemic stroke. JAMA 1999;282:1233-9.

    25.Bazzano LA, He J, Ogden LG, et al. Fruit and vegetable intake and risk of

    cardiovascular disease in US adults: the first National Health and Nutrition

    Examination Survey Epidemiologic Follow-up Study. Am J Clin Nutr 2002;76:93-9

    26.Beilin LJ, Burke V. Vegetarian diet components, protein and blood pressure:

    which nutrients are important? Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol 1995;22:195-8.

    27.Melby CL, Lyle RM, Poehlman ET. Blood pressure and body mass index in

    elderly long-term vegetarians and nonvegetarians. Nutr Rep Intern 1988;37(1):47.

    28.Wyatt CJ, Velazquez A, Grijalva C, et al. Dietary intake of sodium, potassium

    and blood pressure in lacto-ovo-vegetarians. Nutr Res 1995;15:819-30.

    29.Jiang R, Manson JE, Stampfer MJ, et al. Nut and peanut butter consumption

    and risk of type 2 diabetes in women. JAMA 2002;288:2554-60.

    30.Fung TT, Hu FB, Pereira MA, et al. Whole-grain intake and the risk of type 2

    diabetes: a prospective study in men. Am J Clin Nutr 2002;76:535-40.

    31.Ford ES, Mokdad AH. Fruit and vegetable consumption and diabetes mellitusincidence among U.S. adults. Prev Med 2001 Jan;32:33-9.

    32.Sargeant LA, Khaw KT, Bingham S, et al. Fruit and vegetable intake and

    population glycosylated haemoglobin levels: the EPIC-Norfolk Study. Eur J Clin

    Nutr 2001;55:342-8.

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    Veg Research

    Human studies have shown that flaxseed meal can modestly reduce serum

    cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, reduce postprandial glucose absorption,

    decrease some markers of inflammation. Hence, flaxseed may reduce the risk of

    cardiovascular disease. It is a rich source of lignans (a phytoestrogen), alpha-

    linolenic acid (omega-3), and soluble fiber.


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    Copyright 2003 - 2011 Winston Craig, PhD, MPH, RD, Professor of Nutrition,

    Andrews University, MI, USA.



    Seven Common Vegetarian Health Benefits

    Vegetarians are people who avoid all meat, meaning red meat,

    seafood and poultry. They do this for a variety of reasons such as

    being humane to animals and for other ethical reasons, but most

    vegetarians avoid these foods because the alternatives, which are

    mostly herbs, veggies and fruits, have more vegetarian health

    benefits. Vegetarian diets can just be as enjoyable as foods with meatdespite popular belief.

    Healthy Heart

    The greatest of the vegetarian health benefits is reduced risk

    of heart attacks.This is because vegetarians usually have lower

    cholesterol levels. Cholesterol levels are greatly increased by meat,

    especially red meat. Vegetarian diets are also low in saturated fats

    that are common in meat. Vegetables contain plant proteins, which

    are lower in cholesterol compared to animal proteins. Cholesterol and

    saturated fats are the major causes of heart disease, especially inthose in their sunset years. This is because they clog the inside of the

    blood vessels over time. This leads to heart attacks, strokes and

    other cardiovascular diseases. Fruit and vegetable specifically have

    vegetarian health benefits by reducing the risk of getting ischemic

    heart disease, myocardial infarction and angina which are common in

    older people. This is because fruits and vegetables contain folic acid,

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    carotenoids, dietary fiber, potassium, flavonoids, magnesium,

    phytosterols, and other polyphenolic antioxidants that have

    vegetarian health benefits.

    Health Benefits

    Lower my cholesterol

    Organic Food

    Vegetarian diets rich in soluble fiber such as the ones found in oats,

    squash, carrots, dry beans and apples lowering serum cholesterol

    levels that might have been accumulated over the years, therefore

    adding people more years among other vegetarian health benefits.

    Fruits, nuts, whole grain and vegetables have flavonoids that have

    some biological properties and other vegetarian health benefits thatare responsible for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease in that

    they are antioxidants and so they protect LDL cholesterol from

    undergoing oxidation, effectively inhibiting formation of blood clots in

    the arteries and other blood vessels. The flavonoids also have a

    hypolipidemic effects and an anti-inflammatory effect these are

    good for the health of the heart.

    Lower Blood Pressure

    Another of thevegetarian health benefitsis that vegetarians have

    lower blood pressure compared to those who eat meat, especially redmeant. This is because vegetarian diets are low in salt salt has been

    identified as the main cause of high blood pressure and hypertension.

    High blood pressure also occurs when blood tries to flow faster

    because of obstructed blood vessels. The obstruction is usually

    caused by cholesterol ingested from eating meat. Lower blood

    pressure is also maintained by the potassium which is found in fruits

    and vegetables such as apricots, papaya, bananas, cantaloupe,

    strawberries, eggplant, avocado, oranges, tomatoes, cucumber,

    cabbage, cauliflower, bell pepper, squash, turmeric, broccoli, parsley,

    spinach and lima beans among others.

    Control of Diabetes

    Although diabetes does not have a cure yet, eating a vegetarian diet

    that is high in fiber and complex carbohydrates found in plant foods

    controls diabetes and has other vegetarian health benefits. Most

    doctors agree with this fact and advise their patients to consume

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    legumes, vegetables, fruits and whole grains for controlling diabetes.

    These also have lower blood sugar and they completely eliminate the

    need for meds in some cases.

    Prevention of Cancer

    Another of the vegetarian health benefitsis that it vegetarian diets

    help in the prevention of cancer which is very important because

    cancer has no cure. Almost all cancers, especially epithelial cancers,

    can be prevented with regular consumption of fruits and vegetables.

    Foods such as cruciferous vegetables, herbs and fruits have cancer-

    protective phytochemicals such as flavonoids, carotenoids, ellagic

    acid, sulfide compounds, isoflavones, isothiocyanates glucarates,

    phenolic acids, phthalides, phytosterols, saponins and terpenoids

    among others.

    Elimination of Toxins from the Body

    Meat usually has a lot of toxins. Fruits and vegetables do not have

    preservatives as is the case with most packaged and/or processed

    foods. Vegetarians usually ingest organic foods that are grown

    without the chemicals responsible for toxin build-up in our bodies

    such as pesticides. Toxins cause skin problems, allergies, influenza,

    and a host of other ailments. In severe cases, they have been known

    to cause cancer and other serious medical conditions such as


    Easier Digestion of Food

    It is a fact that human beings have a challenging time digesting meat

    and fish. These are heavy foods that take a lot of time and energy to

    digest. People who eat such foods eventually experience weakening

    of their digestive systems which brings such problems as inability to

    eliminate waste rapidly. This means their bodies have a hard time

    doing self-cleaning and this leads to problems such as stomach and

    intestinal cancer. On the other hand, foods such as fruits and

    vegetables are easily and rapidly digested and other vegetarian foods

    that are rich in fiber have vegetarian health benefits in that they

    actually aid in digestion.

    Improvement of Overall Health

    Vegetarians enjoy many health benefits and they are less likely to be

    obese, their skins and other excretion systems work better and they

    have fewer toxins in their body. Although these vegetarian health

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    benefits might not prevent diseases directly, it is easier for

    vegetarians to live longer and to have less sick days.

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    57 Health Benefits of Going Vegan

    Vegans are frequently misunderstood as fringe eaters with an unnatural

    passion for animal rights. While many vegans do feel passionately about animals,

    its time for others to see that a vegan diet and lifestyle go way beyond animal

    rights. Following a healthy, balanced vegan diet ensures a host of health benefits

  • 7/31/2019 Health Benefits of Vegetarian Diets


    as well as prevention of some of the major diseases striking people in North

    America. Read these blogs to find out about the health benefits or going vegan

    or just provide better information to your patients.


    All of the following nutritional benefits come from a vegan diet full of foods suchas fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, and soy products.

    1. Reduced saturated fats. Dairy products and meats contain a large

    amount ofsaturated fats. By reducing the amount of saturated fats from

    your diet, youll improve your health tremendously, especially when it

    comes to cardiovascular health.

    2. Carbohydrates. Carbohydrates provide energy for your body. When you

    dont have enough carbohydrates, your body will burn muscle tissue.

    3. Fiber. A diet high in fiber (as vegan eating usually is) leads to healthierbowel movements. High fiber diets help fight against colon cancer.

    4. Magnesium. Aiding in the absorption of calcium, magnesium is an often

    overlooked vitamin in importance to a healthy diet. Nuts, seeds, and dark

    leafy greens are an excellent source of magnesium.

    5. Potassium. Potassium balances water and acidity in your body and

    stimulates the kidneys to eliminate toxins. Diets high in potassium have

    shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

    6. Folate. This B vitamin is an important part of a healthy diet. Folate helps

    with cell repair, generating red and white blood cells, and metabolizing

    amino acids.

    7. Antioxidants. For protection against cell damage, antioxidants are one of

    the best ways to help your body. Many researchers also believe that

    antioxidants help protect your body against forming some types of cancer.

    8. Vitamin C. Besides boosting your immune system, Vitamin C also helps

    keep your gums healthy and helps your bruises heal faster. Vitamin C is

    also an antioxidant.

    9. Vitamin E. This powerful vitamin has benefits for your heart, skin, eyes,brain, and may even help prevent Alzheimers Disease. A diet high in

    grains, nuts, and dark leafy greens is full of Vitamin E.

    10.Phytochemicals. Plant-based foods provide phytochemicals, which help

    to prevent and heal the body from cancer, boost protective enzymes, and

    work with antioxidants in the body.

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    11.Protein. That protein is good for your body is no surprise. It may be a

    surprise to learn that most Americans eat too much protein and in forms

    such as red meat that are not healthy ways of getting protein. Beans,

    nuts, peas, lentils, and soy products are all great ways to get the right

    amount of protein in a vegan diet.

    Disease Prevention

    Eating a healthy vegan diet has shown to prevent a number of diseases. Find out

    from the list below what you could potentially avoid just by switching to a

    healthy, balanced vegan way of eating.

    12.Cardiovascular disease. Eating nuts and whole grains, while eliminating

    dairy products and meat, will improve your cardiovascular health. A British

    study indicates that a vegan dietreduces the risk for heart disease and

    Type 2 diabetes. Vegan diets go far in preventing heart attack and stroke.

    13.Cholesterol. Eliminating any food that comes from an animal and you willeliminate all dietary cholesterol from your diet. Your heart will thank you

    for that.

    14.Blood pressure. A diet rich in whole grains is beneficial to your health in

    many ways, including lowering high blood pressure.

    15.Type 2 diabetes. Not only is a vegan diet a weapon against Type 2

    diabetes, it is also "easier to follow than the standard diet recommended

    by the American Diabetic Association." Read more about it here.

    16.Prostate cancer. A major study showed that men in the early stages ofprostate cancer who switched to a vegan diet either stopped the progress

    of the cancer or may have even reversed the illness.

    17.Colon cancer. Eating a diet consisting of whole grains, along with fresh

    fruits and vegetables, can greatly reduce your chances of colon cancer.

    18.Breast cancer. Countries where women eat very little meat and animal

    products have a much lower rate of breast cancer than do the women in

    countries that consume more animal products.

    19.Macular degeneration. Diets with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables,

    especially leafy greens, carrots, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes, can help

    prevent the onset of age-related macular degeneration.

    20.Cataracts. Much the same way macular degeneration is headed off by a

    vegan diet, cataracts are also thought to be prevented through the intake

    of the same fruits and vegetables. Produce high in antioxidants are also

    believed to help prevent cataracts.

  • 7/31/2019 Health Benefits of Vegetarian Diets


    21.Arthritis. Eliminating dairy consumption has long been connected with

    alleviating arthritis symptoms, but a new study indicates that a

    combination of gluten-free and vegan diet is very promising for improving

    the health of those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.

    22.Osteoporosis. Bone health depends on a balance of neither too much or

    too little protein, adequate calcium intake, high potassium, and low

    sodium. With a healthy vegan diet, all four of these points set a perfect

    scenario for preventing osteoporosis.

    Physical Benefits

    In addition to good nutrition and disease prevention, eating vegan also provides

    many physical benefits. Find out how a vegan diet makes your body stronger,

    more attractive, and more energetic.

    23.Body Mass Index. Several population studies show that a diet without

    meat leads to lower BMIsusually an indicator of a healthy weight and lackof fat on the body.

    24.Weight loss. A healthy weight loss is a typical result of a smart vegan

    diet. Eating vegan eliminates most of the unhealthy foods that tend to

    cause weight issues. Read more about weight loss and a vegan diethere.

    25.Energy. When following a healthy vegan diet, you will find your energy is

    much higher. This blog post in Happy Healthy Long Life describes how NFL

    tight-end Tony Gonzalez started eating vegan and gained energywhile

    playing football.

    26.Healthy skin. The nuts and vitamins A and E from vegetables play a big

    role in healthy skin, so vegans will usually have good skin health. Many

    people who switch to a vegan diet will notice a remarkable reduction in

    blemishes as well.

    27.Longer life. Several studies indicate that those following a vegan or

    vegetarian lifestyle live an average of three to six years longer than those

    who do not.

    28.Body odor. Eliminating dairy and red meat from the diet significantly

    reduces body odor. Going vegan means smelling better.

    29.Bad breath. Vegans frequently experience a reduction in bad breath.

    Imagine waking up in the morning and not having morning breath.

    30.Hair. Many who follow vegan diets report that their hair becomes

    stronger, has more body, and looks healthier.

  • 7/31/2019 Health Benefits of Vegetarian Diets


    31.Nails. Healthy vegan diets are also responsible for much stronger,

    healthier nails. Nail health is said to be an indicator of overall health.

    32.PMS. When switching to a vegan diet, many women tell how PMS

    symptoms become much less intense or disappear altogether. The

    elimination of dairy is thought to help with those suffering with PMS.

    33.Migraines. Migraine suffers who go on vegan diets frequently discover

    relief from their migraines. Read more about the food-migraine connection

    in this article.

    34.Allergies. Reduction in dairy, meat, and eggs is often tied to alleviation of

    allergy symptoms. Many vegans report much fewer runny noses and

    congestion problems.

    Too Much in the American Diet

    The typical American diet not only consists of too much food, it also relies on toomuch of unnecessary food products or toxins. The following list explains how a

    vegan diet can eliminate these problems.

    35.Animal proteins. The average American eats twice as much protein as

    necessary for a healthy diet and much of that is from red meat. Getting

    protein from beans and grains is much healthier and reduces the risk for

    osteoporosis (see above).

    36.Cows milk dairy. The human body is not designed to digest cow milk

    and cow milk dairy products, yet the idea of milk being healthy is pushed

    through advertising. As many as 75% of people in the world may belactose intolerant and many people suffer from undiagnosed milk allergies

    or sensitivities. By eliminating cows milk from your diet, you are

    improving your overall health.

    37.Eggs. Many nutritionists believe that the number of eggs in the American

    diet is too high. While sometimes disputed, it has been shown that eggs

    can raise cholesterol levels.

    38.Mercury. Most of the fish and shellfish consumed has mercury in it. While

    some fish have less than others, it is almost impossible not to be putting

    mercury in your body when you eat fish.

    39.Sugar. Most people have heard that Americans consume way too much

    sugar. Relying on other sweeteners that are not synthetic, processed, or

    derived from animal products is a healthier way to eat. Many vegans do

    not eat processed sugar due to the fact that most of the cane sugar is

    refined through activated charcoal, most of which comes from animal


  • 7/31/2019 Health Benefits of Vegetarian Diets


    Other Benefits

    In addition to the health benefits above, following a vegan lifestyle and diet also

    provides these benefits as well. From helping the environment to avoiding

    serious bacterial infections, learn other benefits to eating the vegan way below.

    40.Animals. Many people begin a vegan diet out of concern for animals.Whether opposed to the conditions of animals intended for food or eating

    animals in general, going vegan will help your conscience rest easily.

    41.Environment. Growing plants takes much fewer resources than growing

    animals. By eating vegan, you can help reduce the toll on the


    42.E. coli. E. coli comes from eating contaminated red meat and is the

    leading cause of bloody diarrhea. Young children, those with compromised

    immune systems, and elderly people can become extremely ill or die from

    E. coli. Eating vegan means completely avoiding the risk of E. coliinfection.

    43.Salmonella. Another gastrointestinal illness from animal products,

    salmonella food poisoning is closely related to E. coli. The most frequent

    way people contract salmonella food poisoning is through contact with raw

    eggs or raw chicken meat from chickens infected with salmonella. Again,

    going vegan means eliminating this risk altogether.

    44.Mad cow disease. Its safe to say that most people would want to avoid

    contracting a fatal, non-treatable disease. One way to ensure you dont

    get Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is by not eating animals infected with madcow disease. While the incidence of mad cow disease is not reportedly so

    high in North America, it does exist.

    45.Global food supply. Feeding grain to animals meant as food sources

    reduces the amount of food that is available to underdeveloped nations.

    Many people will go hungry while that same food they could be eating is

    given to animals raised for slaughter. Eating vegan ensures that you have

    removed yourself from the participation of this imbalance.

    46.Hormone consumption. Eating animals that have been given hormones

    to speed growth (a common practice in the meat industry) means thosehormones go into your body. Not only can this disrupt the natural balance

    of your hormones, but some of the hormones given to animals have

    shown to cause tumor growth in humans.

    47.Antibiotics. Antibiotics are frequently given to feed animals, which can

    lead to bacterial resistance. Many of the antibiotics used to treat human

    infections are also used in feed animals.

  • 7/31/2019 Health Benefits of Vegetarian Diets


    Healthy Eating

    A vegan diet can be a much healthier way to eat. Find out how to combine the

    vegan diet with other ways of eating for an even more healthy way to go or

    discover ways to keep your vegan diet healthy but more convenient with the

    resources below.

    48.Raw. A raw diet lends itself to veganism by the very nature of its design.

    Find out how to combine live and vegan diets with Raw Inspirations.

    49.Organic. Eating organic and vegan is super easy to do. Use some of the

    recipes from this blog for help with meal ideas. The posts have slowed, but

    you can always search the archives for some great ideas on how to live

    and eat organic and vegan.

    50.Fat-free. Vegan eating is typically pretty low in fats anyway, but the

    FatFree Vegan Kitchen shows you how to make some delicious vegan food

    that is always fat free.

    51.Gluten-free. Due to allergies, Celiacs Disease, or whatever your reason

    you avoid gluten, find out how to combine the best of gluten-free with

    vegan cooking in theGluten-Free Vegan blog.

    52.Eating out. Eating out isnt usually associated with eating healthy, but a

    vegan diet ensures there will be a lot less of the bad things in the food you

    choose. Find eating out options around the world for vegans here.

    53.Lunch. Maintaining a vegan diet means you are likely to take your lunch

    more often than most people. Vegan Lunch Box offers recipes, tools, andideas for carrying great vegan lunches every day.

    54.Dinner. Coming up with new dinner ideas is challenging for everyone

    regardless of what type of diet you follow. Check out this amazing

    selection of vegan dinner recipes accompanied with mouth-watering

    photos of each preparation on Dinner with Dilip.

    55.Dessert. While not all the recipes on My Sweet Vegan are for dessert, you

    will find a large selection of sweet vegan recipes with the most delicious-

    looking photos.

    56.Wine. Pairing vegan food with wine may be challenging for those who rely

    on the old standard of "white with fish and red with meat." Read this

    article for ways to compliment your healthy vegan diet with a tasty glass

    of wine or this blog entry for specific pairings of wine and vegan food.

  • 7/31/2019 Health Benefits of Vegetarian Diets


    57.Fun. These ladies know how to kick it with vegan cooking. Post Punk

    Kitchen offers some great recipes with a ton of fun infused in them. Be

    sure to go through the archives for more yummy food ideas.

    Did you enjoy this article? Bookmark it at del.icio.us

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    FindArticles /Home & Garden / Vegetarian Times / April, 1999

    22 Reasons to Go Vegetarian Right Now - benefits of vegetarian diet

    by Norine Dworkin






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    Your body, the planet and the animals will thank you for it

    Why go vegetarian?

    Better yet, why not go vegetarian?

    Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop has said that 70 percent of all

    Americans are dying from diseases that are directly tied to their eating habits.

    Stacks of studies confirm that a diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables, grains and

    soy is your best bet for living a longer, healthier and more enjoyable life. At the

    same time, you're doing the planet a huge favor by helping to preserve natural

    resources and cutting down on pollution generated by animal agriculture. Plus,

    you may appreciate your wonderful meals even more knowing that no animals

    suffered along the way. There are literally hundreds of great reasons to switch to

    a plant-based diet; here are 22 of the best we've heard.

    1 You'll live a lot longer. Vegetarians live about seven years longer, and vegans

    (who eat no animal products) about 15 years longer than meat eaters, according

    to a study from Loma Linda University. These findings are backed up by the

    China Health Project (the largest population study on diet and health to date),

    which found that Chinese people who eat the least amount of fat and animal

    products have the lowest risks of cancer, heart attack and other chronic

    degenerative diseases. And a British study that tracked 6,000 vegetarians and

    5,000 meat eaters for 12 years found that vegetarians were 40 percent less

    likely to die from cancer during that time and 20 percent less likely to die from

    other diseases.

    2 You'll save your heart. Cardiovascular disease is still the number one killer in

    the United States, and the standard American diet (SAD) that's laden with

    saturated fat and cholesterol from meat and dairy is largely to blame. Children

    as young as age 3 who are raised on fast food and junk food show early signs of

    heart disease, according to the Bogalusa Heart Study done at the Louisiana State

    University. Cardiovascular disease is found in one in nine women aged 45 to 64

    and in one in three women over 65. Heart attacks are also deadlier to the fairer

    sex: 53 percent of women who have heart attacks die from them, compared with

    47 percent of men. Today, the average American male eating a meat-based diet

    has a 50 percent chance of dying from heart disease. His risk drops to 15percent if he cuts out meat; it goes to 4 percent if he cuts out meat, dairy and

    eggs. Partly responsible is the fact that fruits and vegetables are full of

    antioxidant nutrients that protect the heart and its arteries. Plus, produce

    contains no saturated fat or cholesterol. Incidentally, cholesterol levels for

    vegetarians are 14 percent lower than meat eaters.

  • 7/31/2019 Health Benefits of Vegetarian Diets


    3 You can put more money in your mutual fund. Replacing meat, chicken and

    fish with vegetables and fruits is estimated to cut food bills by an average of

    $4,000 a year.

    4 You'll reduce your risk of cancer. A study in The International Journal of Cancer

    concluded that red meat is strongly associated with breast cancer. The National

    Cancer Institute says that women who eat meat every day are nearly four times

    more likely to get breast cancer than those who don't. By contrast, women who

    consume at least one serving of vegetables a day reduce their risk of breast

    cancer by 20 percent to 30 percent, according to the Harvard Nurses Health

    Study. Studies done at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg

    suggest that this is because vegetarians' immune systems are more effective in

    killing off tumor cells than meat eaters'. Studies have also found a plant-based

    diet helps protect against prostate, colon and skin cancers.

    5 You'll add color to your plate. Meat, chicken and fish tend to come in boring

    shades of brown and beige, but fruits and vegetables come in all colors of therainbow. Disease-fighting phytochemicals are responsible for giving produce

    their rich, varied hues. So cooking by color is a good way to ensure you re eating

    a variety of naturally occurring substances that boost immunity and prevent a

    range of illnesses.

    6 You'll fit into your old jeans. On average, vegetarians are slimmer than meat

    eaters, and when we diet, we keep the weight off up to seven years longer.

    That's because diets that are higher in vegetable proteins are much lower in fat

    and calories than the SAD. Vegetarians are also less likely to fall victim to

    weight-related disorders like heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

    7 You'll give your body a spring cleaning. Giving up meat helps purge the body of

    toxins (pesticides, environmental pollutants, preservatives) that overload our

    systems and cause illness. When people begin formal detoxification programs,

    their first step is to replace meats and dairy products with fruits and vegetables

    and juices. "These contain phytochemicals that help us detox naturally," says

    Chris Clark, M.D., medical director of The Raj, an Ayurvedic healing center in

    Fairfield, Iowa, which specializes in detox programs.

    8 You'll make a strong political statement. Each day, 22 million animals are

    slaughtered to support the American appetite for meat. "It's a wonderful thing to

    be able to finish a delicious meal, knowing that no beings have suffered [to makeit]," says Erik Marcus, author of Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating (McBooks,


    9 Your meals will taste delicious. "Vegetables are endlessly interesting to cook

    and a joy to eat," says Deborah Madison, founding chef of Greens restaurant in

    San Francisco and author of Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (Broadway Books,

    1997). "It's an ever-changing parade of flavors and colors and textures and

  • 7/31/2019 Health Benefits of Vegetarian Diets


    tastes. Everyone can enjoy them, but vegetarians are more likely to think about

    cooking and eating vegetables."

    10 You'll help reduce waste and air pollution. Circle 4 Farms in Milford, Utah,

    which raises 2.5 million pigs every year, creates more waste than the entire city

    of Los Angeles. And this is just one farm. Each year, the nation's factory farms,

    collectively produce 2 billion tons of manure, a substance that's rated by the

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as one of the country's top 10 pollutants.

    And that's not even counting the methane gas released by cows, pigs and

    poultry (which contributes to the greenhouse effect); the ammonia gases from

    urine; poison gases that emanate from manure lagoons; toxic chemicals from

    pesticides; and exhaust from farm equipment used to raise feed for animals.

    11 Your bones will last longer. The average bone loss for a vegetarian woman at

    age 65 is 18 percent; for non-vegetarian women, it's double that. Researchers

    attribute this to the consumption of excess protein--the average meat-eating

    American woman eats 144 percent over the recommended daily allowance; theaverage man eats 175 percent more.

    Excess protein interferes with the absorption and retention of calcium and

    actually prompts the body to excrete calcium, laying the ground for the brittle

    bone disease osteoporosis. Animal proteins, including milk, make the blood

    acidic, and to balance that condition, the body pulls calcium from bones. So

    rather than rely on milk for calcium, vegetarians turn to dark green leafy

    vegetables, such as broccoli and legumes, which, calorie for calorie, are superior


    12 You'll help reduce famine. Right now, 72 percent of all grain produced in theUnited States is fed to animals raised for slaughter. It takes 15 pounds of feed to

    get one pound of meat. But if the grain were given directly to people, there'd be

    enough food to feed the entire planet. In addition, using land for animal

    agriculture is inefficient in terms of maximizing food production. According to the

    journal Soil and Water, one acre of land could produce 50,000 pounds of

    tomatoes, 40,000 pounds of potatoes, 30,000 pounds of carrots or just 250

    pounds of beef.

    13 You'll avoid toxic chemicals. The EPA estimates that nearly 95 percent of

    pesticide residue in our diet comes from meat, fish and dairy products. Fish, in

    particular, contain carcinogens (PCBs, DDT) and heavy metals (mercury, arsenic;lead, cadmium) that cannot be removed through cooking or freezing. Meat and

    dairy products are also laced with steroids and hormones.



  • 7/31/2019 Health Benefits of Vegetarian Diets






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    FindArticles /Home & Garden / Vegetarian Times / April, 1999

    22 Reasons to Go Vegetarian Right Now - benefits of vegetarian diet

    by Norine Dworkin







    More Articles of Interest

    10 things guys wish girls knew - Shocking!

    22 Reasons to Go Vegetarian Right Now - benefits of vegetarian diet

    10 fast skin fixes: get the gorgeous, glowing skin you want!

    Get long hair fast! Sure, short is sassy and bobs are beautiful. But if long,

    lush locks are what you crave, we nave your step-by-step strategy: yes!

    You can make your hair grow faster!

    12 new, pretty, do-them-in-five-minutes ways to wear your hair this fall

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