Should You Switch to a Vegetarian Diet?

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vegetarian diets
Image: Veganamente (pixabay.com)

In the past few years, there has been an increase in the number of people switching to low-meat or vegetarian diets due to their nutritional benefits which range from prevention of life-threatening diseases like cancer to aiding recovery and treatment in people with existent health conditions.

However, reports on such diets have also highlighted a number of concerns. Even though there is plenty of medical evidence to back up the claims associated with no-meat diets, experts often point out that most studies focus on certain types of vegetarian diets.

The only set standard for such diets is the low intake of any kind of meats. Other than this, there can also be many other differences in the daily intake of different people who become vegetarian. Not all vegetable-based diets are the same.

The kind of non-meat food items a person chooses to add to his or her daily intake can make a big difference. A vegetarian person can still be unhealthy and be not have a nutritious diet as most people assume.

Focusing on the variations in the outcome of different vegetarian diets, new research presented in the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2020 investigates further and concludes that people who consume certain vegetables and non-meat foods are much healthier in comparison with other vegetarians.

Dr. Matina Kouvari of Harokopio University, who was the leading investigator of the research explained “Our study highlights the variable nutritional quality of plant foods,”

“This finding was more evident in women. Prior research has shown that women tend to eat more plant-based foods and less animal-based products than men. But our study suggests that this does not guarantee healthier food choices and in turn better health status.” Dr. Matina further added.

Previously, most of the studies have not gone as far as to examine the quality and type of plant-based or vegetarian-friendly foods.

To fill this gap, the new study looks at how different foods that are plant-based can have different health outcomes. For instance, there were two primary categories in the research, healthy plant-based foods, and unhealthy plant-based foods.

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People who consumed the former more had more nuts, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and fewer processed foods. On the other hand, those who consumed unhealthy plant-based foods had more sugary, starchy, and processed foods as well as refined grains in their intake.

In addition to detailed analysis of the quality of food in the daily intake, the researchers observed its impact on heart health within a time period of ten years and found that vegetarian diets reduced the likelihood of health issues associated with the heart.

However, this outcome was more evident in men than in women. As mentioned before, even though women consume more plant-based foods, they are not always healthy.

In comparison, men who consumed a more vegetarian-friendly diet had visible benefits on the health as they had healthier plant-based foods in their daily intake.

Therefore, it can be said that consuming less meat and more plant-based foods is healthy as long as the latter are nutritious and not just empty calories.

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