Vegetarian diets: healthy vegetables versus 'junk' vegetables

Vegetarian diets: healthy vegetables versus ‘junk’ vegetables

vegetarian diets Refers to diets based on foods made from plants, and includes vegetarian and vegan diets.

While vegetarian Diets exclude all animal products, and vegetarian options – which exclude only meat and fish – are more varied and may include dairy and eggs. Pescatarian diets exclude meat, but not fish.

Vegetarian diets continue to grow in popularity all over the world due to decades of scientific research and growing Evidence Of the potential health benefits, it is not limited to improving cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

Moreover, increased awareness of the environmental impact of animal husbandry, such as high levels of greenhouse gases, land degradation, and excessive watering has also led to motivated, impulsive Some people adopt plant-based diets, which can be more environmentally friendly.

However, there are some health risks associated with some vegetarian diets, especially if there is significant consumption of “junk” plant foods.

by definition, Ultra-processed foods They are nutritional products that contain minimal whole foods, are high in calories, added sugar, salt, and fat, provide little nutritional value, and are processed with cheap artificial additives.

using Nova The classification system, which categorizes food products according to the extent to which they are subjected to industrial processes, can “junk” foods included Many plant products, such as:

  • Commercially produced bread, pastries, cakes and biscuits
  • Soft drinks
  • Prepackaged snacks
  • Flavored dairy drinks
  • Breakfast Cereal
  • nutritious pieces
  • Sauces, soups, noodle bowls and instant desserts.

Ultra-processed foods provide convenience, continue to replace minimally processed whole foods, and count now More than half of the daily caloric intake of many individuals in middle- and high-income countries.

While a balanced vegetarian diet is varied, frequent consumption of ultra-processed plant foods is associated with negative health outcomes.

For example, in a file Group study for the year 2019 After 105,159 adults over a 5-year period, researchers noted that even a 10% increase in ultra-processed foods consumption was associated with a higher risk of heart disease and stroke.

This small increase in ultra-processed foods is also associated with an increased risk of some of them crabsAnd the Type 2 diabetesand increased exposure to harmful substances Chemicals of food packages.

Additionally, calorie intake is reported to be higher in plant-based diets rich in ultra-processed foods, which may lead to overweight and greater potential for development obesity.

To double the negative health risks associated with diets rich in ultra-processed foods, vegetarian and vegan diets can exclude food groups, making nutrient deficiencies more common.

In general, some studies have shown that vegetarians and vegans have lower levels Nutrients such as iron, vitamin B12, calcium, vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids.

Moreover, a Study 2022 showed that vegetarian women have an increased risk of hip fractures compared to women who eat meat occasionally.

These may be negative results linked To omit iron- and B12-rich meats and calcium-rich sources of calcium in vegetarian and vegan diets. These problems may be exacerbated by individuals not replacing those food sources with fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes, and eating ultra-processed foods instead.

Consistently well-planned vegetarian or vegan diets provide many health benefits, and can protect against nutrient deficiencies and adverse health risks associated with diets rich in ultra-processed plant foods.

Don’t just promote vegetarian diets longevitybut it may reduce muscle loss – also called sarcopenia In elderly people with obesity.

They are also safe during Pregnancy And breastfeeding as long as it meets the nutritional requirements, as well as during physical performance.

Well-planned, nutritionally balanced plant-based diets closely adhere to American dietary recommendations and are generally improving diet quality Based on the healthy eating index.

This happens thanks to an increased intake of:

  • the fruit
  • Non-starchy vegetables
  • all grains
  • Low fat dairy product
  • egg
  • vegetable protein
  • Seafood.

These diets also have less salt, added sugar, fat and calories.

Therefore, not all plant-based diets are associated with negative health risks, but it is important to note that following an overall healthy eating pattern is essential to managing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Here are some practical tips to help you maintain a varied and balanced vegetarian diet.

First, cut back on ultra-processed foods. Plant foods that are highly processed with salt, added sugars and fats should be limited and eaten in moderation.

In particular, vegan meat replacement products are often high in sodium and saturated fat, so be sure to choose low-sodium and low-fat alternatives..

Make sure to read Nutrient Labels And be careful with the so-called health claims on the packaging. Practice reading the nutritional labels of packaged food products to learn about their sugar, salt and fat content and to choose those with fewer additives. Likewise, labels may help you choose foods that are higher in calcium and other beneficial nutrients.

It’s also important to watch your carbohydrate portions: switching to a vegan diet may seem restrictive, and research shows that meat can be replaced with refined or high-carb foods. Make sure to include whole grain carbohydrate options in portions appropriate for your health goals.

Also focus on proteins: Peas and beans, nuts, seeds, seitan, complex vegetable protein, tofu, tempeh, edamame, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, and seafood are all rich protein food sources for vegetarians that also provide calcium, iron, vitamin D and some B vitamins B12, which is usually deficient in vegetarians.

Where appropriate, nutritional supplements may help a person reach the desired amount of daily nutrients to avoid deficiency. Talk with your medical team about which supplements might be right for you.

Finally, you may want to consult a dietitian: If you are new to eating plant-based, consult a registered dietitian for foods that will help you meet your nutritional needs.

Vegetarian diets are known around the world for their potential health benefits, such as improving cholesterol and blood sugar levels and reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and obesity.

However, “junk” plant foods or ultra-processed foods – which account for more than half of the daily calorie intake for some individuals – continue to replace minimally processed whole foods, and pose adverse health risks.

Moreover, vegetarians and vegans can suffer from nutrient deficiencies in iron, calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12, due to the exclusion of animal foods rich in these nutrients.

However, well-planned vegetarian or vegan diets rich in non-starchy fruits and vegetables, whole grains, dairy, and plant-based protein sources offer many health benefits, and protect against the adverse health risks associated with diets rich in “junk” plant foods.

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