These Foods Will Help You Have a Well Balanced Vegetarian Diet

There are misconceptions when the word vegetarian is thrown around in conversation.

A vegetarian is defined as someone having a plant-based diet. But what the definition fails to state is just because someone doesn’t eat meat doesn’t mean they qualify as a real vegetarian.

Being a true and healthy vegetarian means having a well-balanced diet by incorporating nutrient-rich foods.

Healthy dietary habits are not limited to a single lifestyle of eating. There are a set of nutrients and vitamins essential in balancing a diet, and the consumption of these nutrients comes in a variety of foods and drinks.

Those who have chosen to stray away from meat products benefit by reducing the risk of chronic degenerative diseases such as obesity, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Michael F. Roizen, MD, author of “The Real Age Diet: Make Yourself Younger With What You Eat,” said consuming four-legged fat will shorten a life span and slow down an immune system.

But eliminating just the meat isn’t going to cut it.

Just as any unbalanced diet, having an unbalanced vegetarian diet filled with fried foods, sweets and junk food, can result in obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular problems.

A balanced vegetarian diet is comprised of four servings of fruit, four servings of vegetables and six servings of grains each day.

This should be accompanied by 6 ounces or less of tofu or a protein that isn’t meat and three servings of low-fat dairy products.

Listed below are amazing food plants that add a variety of tastes, textures, colors and can balance out any diet in moderation.

  1. Dark green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, collards, kale, mustard and turnip greens, chicory or cabbage, are especially good sources of vitamin C, beta-carotene, riboflavin, iron, calcium, fiber and other nutrients.
  2. Vegetables such a peppers, carrots, squash, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, mushrooms and cauliflower. Try making a plentiful stir fry or snack on vegetables throughout the day.
  3. Plant proteins such as beans, lentils, soy beans, raw nuts, almonds and chia seeds. The human body needs about a gram of protein per kilogram of body weight or .36 grams per pound, daily.
  4. Fruits make a great substitute for sweets and have plenty of benefits. Eating a diet rich in fruits can reduce the risk of strokes and other cardiovascular diseases.
  5. Good fatty acids and linoleic acids, cannot be synthesized in the body and must be obtained from food. These fats can be found in plant foods and are used to build specialized fats called omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 fats are derived from linoleic acid and are found in leafy vegetables, nuts and grains. Omega-3 fatty acids, used in the formation of cell walls and assist in improving circulation and oxygen uptake, are found in soy beans, flax seeds, walnuts and wheat germ.
  6. Don’t avoid whole grains. Incorporating whole grains in a diet will reduce the risk of some chronic diseases. Grains such as barley, oats and quinoa are important sources of fiber, B vitamins (thiamin, roblavin, niacin and folate) and minerals like iron and magnesium.
  7. Drinking a glass of red wine everyday can improve heart health. Drinking wine in moderation with every meal will stimulate the appetite. With regular physical activity and a healthy diet, drinking a glass of wine everyday can increase good cholesterol.
  8. It is important to incorporate vitamin B12 through fortified foods like soy milk into a well balanced diet. It is also important to make sure your body is intaking enough iron, calcium and vitamin D.

If a vegetarian diet is something you’re accustomed to and you want to challenge your diet, try going vegan. Being a vegan means eating a plant-based diet, without any animal products, this includes dairy.

If a vegan diet interests you read Vegan For Life  for nutritional requirements and the blogs of the two authors of the book, Ginny Messina and Jack Norris.