A vegetarian diet is most commonly in India and many have found it to be associated with several health benefits. These include a reduced risk of developing chronic illnesses like type 2 diabetes, or heart attacks.
However, a lot of people mistake this opportunity to skimp out on healthy foods and go straight to the unprocessed junk that is full of compounds like sodium, sugar and fats. Essentially they are missing out on important nutrients like calcium, protein-rich vegetarian food, and whole grains, which form the essence of a vegetarian diet.
If planned out properly, following a vegetarian-based diet and nutrition could potentially fulfil the recommended daily allowance of several nutrients for your body, keeping you fit and healthy throughout the year.
Let us understand how we can get the best nutrition for ourselves by following a vegetarian diet.
Planning Out The Intake
A good place to start while you are planning out a proper nutritional intake would be to go for a wide range of vegetarian-friendly food like fresh vegetables and fruits, legumes, and whole grains such as barley and wheat It is important that you dial down on the sugary drinks, refined grains, and processed fat. You can also consult your medical health practitioner to help you identify the foods that you should be cutting out.
There are certain vitamins and minerals that you must make sure are a part of your healthy diet plan in order to promote the optimal functioning of your body. This is especially important while following a restrictive diet such as vegetarianism.
These nutrients include:
About 99% of the human body is made up of calcium. It is primarily found within the teeth and bones. Usually, dairy products such as cheese, milk, and curds are the go-to sources for calcium. Alternatively, you can also opt for coloured leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, and broccoli which are also notable sources of calcium. This makes sure that you get your calcium without going overboard on the carbs and fats.
Vitamins D also has a lot to do with maintaining the proper bone and tooth health. A good way to get in the recommended daily allowance of this nutrient would be to consume fortified foods. Additionally, it is also recommended that you increase your exposure to the sun. This prevents the development of diseases like rickets, especially among children.
Protein in veg food is without question one of the most essential nutrients required to promote the optimal functioning of our body. There is a common misconception that you can only get the recommended amount of protein by consuming meat. The fact is that there are several high protein vegetarian foods such as dairy, pulses and legumes that one can consume throughout the day to meet their requirements.
One of the more common sources of protein for vegetarians includes soy-based products such as tofu and soya chunks which not only provide a lot of protein for your body but also mimic the texture of meat. This can be a useful substitute if you are someone who is transitioning from a non-vegetarian diet. Soy-based products are also an excellent source of protein-filled vegan foods if you would like to explore veganism as well.
Iron is one of the primary components of the blood and is required to ensure the proper flow of blood through the body. However, most of the plant-based iron that we consume is not absorbed as quickly from the body. Iron is mostly found in protein-rich plant-based sources as well. This is why it is recommended that we double our consumption of veg food with high protein such as dried beans, lentils, and whole-grain products.
A good way to boost your body’s iron absorption would be to up your Vitamin C intake by consuming foods like lemons, tomatoes, and broccoli. This will help your body synthesize the iron better, while getting you a healthy dose of Vitamin C at the same time.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega 3 are a group of polyunsaturated fatty acids that are required to promote the essential functioning of our body. However, they are primarily found in non-vegetarian diets and are hard to come by in plant-based sources. You can always include sources like canola oil, soy oil, flaxseed powder, or walnuts in your daily intake to meet the minimum requirement.
However, it can be a bit difficult for you to keep up with all these essential nutrients and record your daily food intake to see if you are getting enough of them. Alternatively, you consider supplementing a balanced diet full of protein sources vegan with multivitamins that fulfil your recommended daily allowance in one go.
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