Foods for Maximizing a Vegetarian Diet

July 26th, 2011

You can experience many health benefits by including more fruits and vegetables into your diet. You may even consider becoming a vegetarian. In general vegetarians consume less saturated fats, cholesterol, and animal protein than people on an average American diet. Studies have shown a positive link between eating a vegetarian diet and a reduced risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension, coronary heart disease and some types of cancer.

To maintain optimum health it is important that vegetarians consume adequate amounts of the following nutrients:

  • Protein from beans and lentils; soy products such as tempeh, tofu, dairy and eggs.
  • Iron from legumes – chickpeas, lentils, adzuki and kidney beans; nuts and seeds – cashews, almonds, walnuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, including sesame tahini; whole grains – brown rice, quinoa, millet; and dark leafy greens.
  • Zinc from legumes – aduki, navy and split peas; nuts and seeds – cashew, pumpkin and sunflower seeds; whole grains and soy foods.
  • Iodine from iodized salt, kelp powder and other sea vegetables.
  • Essential Fatty Acids from omega enriched eggs and seaweed
  • Vitamin B-12 from B-12 supplements, meat substitutes, cereals, non-dairy beverages, nutritional yeast, eggs and dairy.
  • Calcium from leafy greens such as broccoli, kale, collards and okra; dairy, tofu, soymilk, almonds, legumes, dried figs and calcium fortified foods.
  • Vitamin D from sun exposure, vitamin D supplements, fortified cows milk and soymilk, fortified cereals and egg yolks.
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