Benefits of Vegetarian Diet And Its Side Effects

Benefits of Vegetarian Diet And Its Side Effects

A well-planned vegetarian diet can provide numerous health benefits. Here we are going to discuss more details.

Benefits of Vegetarian Diet

Lower risk of heart disease:
Vegetarians tend to have lower cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and rates of hypertension compared to non-vegetarians. A combined analysis of data from five prospective studies found vegetarians were on average 25% less likely to die from heart disease.

Lower risk of type 2 diabetes: People following a vegetarian diet may be at a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. A 2016 study found switching to a vegetarian diet may help with weight loss in the short-term.

Lower cancer risk: There may be a lower overall risk of cancer in vegetarians, especially vegans. Plant-based diets provide antioxidants and fiber that may help reduce cancer risk.

Lower risk of obesity and better weight management: Vegetarians tend to have a lower BMI on average. However, a vegetarian diet doesn't automatically lead to weight loss - it's important to focus on whole, minimally processed plant foods and practice portion control.

Lower risk of dementia and cognitive decline: Some evidence suggests vegetarians may have a lower risk of developing dementia and experiencing cognitive decline.

However, it's important that a vegetarian diet is appropriately planned to ensure adequate intake of nutrients like protein, iron, zinc, calcium, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fatty acids. Consuming a variety of whole plant foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds is key for optimal health on a vegetarian diet.

Vegetarian Diet Side Effects

To be aware of potential side effects if the diet is not properly balanced:

Nutrient deficiencies: Vegetarians, especially vegans, may be at risk of deficiencies in nutrients like vitamin B12, iron, zinc, calcium, iodine, and omega-3 fatty acids if they don't plan their diet carefully. Deficiencies can lead to anemia, fatigue, neurological problems, developmental delays in children, and increased disease risk.

Lower bone mineral density: Some studies suggest vegetarians may have lower bone mineral density compared to non-vegetarians. This could increase the risk of osteoporosis later in life.

Increased risk of colorectal cancer: One study found vegetarians may have a slightly higher risk of colorectal cancer compared to non-vegetarians. However, more research is needed to confirm this link.

Digestive issues: Switching to a high-fiber vegetarian diet can cause temporary bloating, gas and diarrhea as the gut adjusts. Eating a variety of fiber-rich foods and increasing intake gradually can help minimize these side effects.

Unwanted weight loss: Vegetarians tend to have a lower BMI on average, but a poorly planned vegetarian diet can lead to unintentional weight loss, especially in older adults. Ensuring adequate calorie intake is important.

To avoid these potential side effects, vegetarians should focus on eating a varied diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and fortified foods. Supplements may be needed for certain nutrients like vitamin B12. Consulting with a healthcare professional can help ensure a vegetarian diet meets all nutritional needs.

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