The vegetarian diet is plant-based and excludes meat, dairy products, and eggs. Some vegetarians choose to eliminate all animal products, while others include fish or poultry in their diets. The health benefits of a vegetarian diet are numerous whereas they increase the risk of certain illnesses like cancer. However with proper cooking and increased knowledge about nutrition, a vegetarian meal can be every bit as satisfying as a meat-based one.
Vegetarian diet has become popular for its reduced risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Vegetarian diet also has been shown to reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and increase longevity. Vegetarians tend to have lower BMI than meat-eaters because they tend to be lighter and therefore burn calories faster. Studies on other conditions have not been so conclusive.
By consuming dairy products, vegetarians tend to consume a higher-than-recommended amount of calcium. Calcium is important for bone health and adequate intakes are especially vital for children, teenagers, and those over 51 years old who are more likely to have insufficient calcium intake.
There is some debate about whether vegans should take a calcium supplement in order to prevent osteoporosis as they have lower dietary intake than non-vegetarians.
A vegetarian diet can improve bone health and help prevent osteoporosis, a condition that causes bones to become brittle as we age. A vegetarian diet may also help with weight loss. In fact, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who follow a vegetarian diet are leaner than meat-eaters and tend to have less abdominal fat. In this study, researchers followed close to 50,000 people. They found that vegetarians had a lower BMI than non-vegetarians. In addition to being leaner, the vegetarians were also less likely to be obese.
A vegetarian lifestyle is associated with a lower risk of certain cancers such as prostate cancer, breast cancer and colon cancer. There is also some evidence that a vegetarian diet may protect people from developing rheumatoid arthritis. Vegetarians tend to have lower blood levels of insulin and body mass index (BMI) than meat eaters. This could mean that vegetarians have lower risk of cardiovascular disease as well as certain cancers.