Vegetarians often find themselves culinarily challenged due to a limited range of vegetarian products. If you are one of the vegetarians, you would know how difficult it gets to transform bland vegetables into flavorsome dishes. Also, for a vegetarian, vitamins, minerals and even protein intake becomes a matter of concern. However it is not as complex as you think. A vegetarian diet can not only provide you with all the nutrients but some added phyto chemicals and compounds, to promote optimal health. Just some clever additions and your veg meal can turn into a complete nutritious diet.
Following are some vital nutrients you must incorporate in your diet:
It is an important mineral that helps to maintain strong teeth and bones. It is found in ample amount in milk, its products and also in vegetables such as broccoli and turnip. There are several calcium fortified products including juices, soy yogurt, soy milk and tofu which are good sources of calcium.
You don’t have to be a non vegetarian to maintain your iodine levels as, just a quarter teaspoon of iodized salt provide a significant amount. Iodine is an important mineral and a component of thyroid hormones. These hormones help to regulate metabolism and growth of major organs. Apart from iodized salt, green veggies, sweet potatoes, soy bean are rich in iodine.
Vegetarians are recommended to consume iron twice the iron intake of non vegetarians. It is a key component of red blood cells and diet deficient in iron can lead to anemia i.e. low hemoglobin levels in blood. So design your recipes with peas, whole-grain products, lentils, enriched cereals, leafy green vegetables and dried fruits to fill up your iron sinks. Also, along with iron rich diet, eat foods rich in vitamin C, citrus fruits, tomatoes, strawberries, cabbage and broccoli to help your body absorb iron.
Omega-3 fatty acids
This group of fatty acids is the most discussed. These promise an array of health benefits along with protection from depression and dementia. Although it might be a little hard for the vegetarians to maintain sufficient levels of this essential fat through their diet some extra effort to swap their usual products with omega 3 rich sources will surely be beneficial. Walnuts, olive oil, canola oil, ground flaxseed and soybeans are good sources of omega 3 fatty acids. You may even consider fortified products or omega 3 enriched supplements.
You just can’t do without proteins! These are building blocks of our body and help maintain healthy bones, skin, muscles and organs. You can also get sufficient protein from dairy products and plant-based foods if you incorporate a variety of them in your daily diet. Plant sources of proteins are lentils, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
Vitamin B 12 is involved in various functions and is found almost exclusively in animal products. However, you can make up for this Vitamin through milk, yoghurt, mushrooms, fortified soy products and cereals. The deficiency of these vitamins can go unnoticed especially in vegans.
An adequate sun exposure is sufficient for your body to produce this ‘sunshine vitamin’. However you can also obtain Vitamin D from cow’s milk cereals and fortified products. So, stop shunning the sun and get your vitamin levels right!
Zinc helps to propel more than hundred enzymes in our body and plays a vital role in cell division and proteins formation as well. You can go for cheese, whole grains, legumes, nuts, soy products, and wheat germ to bulk up your zinc levels.
Although non vegetarians may brag about the taste, nutritious value and variety of their meaty diet, veggies have a number of reasons to stick to a more humane diet. Some of the points that you can use for your defense are:
Vegetarian diet is heart friendly.
Plant derived foods lower the risk of cancer because of being high in anti oxidants.
Plants don’t spread flu, but Non Vegetarian diet can be diseased or toxic. Recent studies have even found traces of antibiotics in chicken.
Ease the symptoms of menopause by Phytoestrogens. These can alter estrogen and progesterone levels, and thus ensure a more comfortable passage through menopause.
It is full of fiber which not only helps in digestion and absorption but also helps to keep your body weight under check. Sad enough for non vegetarians, meat contains no fiber at all!
It is rich in health promoting carotenoids.
Therefore you have not one or two but plenty of reasons to endorse a vegetarian diet. So, add more twist to your plate with colorful vegetables, gritty whole grains, crunchy nuts, fresh yoghurt or cheese and stop digging for more excuses to turn vegetarian. And after all this, if you still can’t suffice your nutrient demand, dietary supplements is your cherry on the cake.