How to Get the Best Nutrition on a Vegetarian Diet

How to Get the Best Nutrition on a Vegetarian Diet

Vegetarian diets are ideal for losing weight and getting in better health. Since the diet often produces many different health benefits, it’s no wonder that many people opt for a vegetarian diet to boost their health. There are many different types of vegetarian diets which might exclude everything from meat to eggs to dairy products. Some of these diets even allow certain meats like poultry and fish into the diet while excluding red meats like beef, lamb, and venison.

However, many people who opt for a vegetarian diet rely on foods that are highly processed or full of fat, sodium, sugar, and calories. As you can see, a diet that consists of these types of foods is not healthy. In fact, this can cause many people on a vegetarian and vegan diet to miss out on healthy nutrients and vitamins that can be found in meats and dairy. With a little planning and research, a vegetarian diet can be full of nutritional needs without the added sugar and over processing. It isn’t as hard as it might seem at first glance either. Here is a little more information about learning to properly plan out a healthy vegetarian diet.

Mix It Up

No one likes to eat the same things over and over again. It not only gets tiring, but your body might be missing out on necessary nutrients when you only eat certain things. Perhaps the best way to get the nutrients you need each day can be found by mixing up the items in your diet. There are even substitutions for different food groups that contain the same sorts of nutrients. For example, nuts and seeds contain protein just like poultry and certain dairy products, though the nuts and seeds contain smaller increments than the other.

When you are planning out your diet, you can mix up the different vegetables, greens, grains, and meats you eat to get the same amount of nutrients without having bland meals. Luckily, Drugs.com’s source for vegetarian nutrition has a great chart that breaks down the recommended servings of a healthy diet for each day. By taking this chart, you can find the substitutes you need to adequately plan out your diet. Remember, a varied and mixed diet is one key to living a healthier life, and it doesn’t have to be difficult to find foods that meet your diet and taste delicious.

Probiotics

Most vegetarian diets are plant based, though not all are. However, a plant based diet can often leave you without probiotics. These strange things are very important to maintaining a healthy digestive system. Probiotics, since they are called “good bacteria,” are necessary to gut health since they help to break down food and digest it effectively. When your body is low on probiotics, you might find yourself laden with unhealthy digestive problems, which might eventually cause infections.

There are few foods that are full of probiotics, however, that are plant based and delicious. These can be eaten with or without other things, for a meal, or even for a snack. The best part of these items listed below is the fact that they contain the “good bacteria” for your gut. According to One Green Planet’s article about probiotics, these foods are great substitutions for probiotics instead of dairy and yogurt:

  • Sauerkraut
  • Kimchi
  • Miso
  • Tempeh
  • Sourdough Bread
  • Sour Pickles (dill and sour)
  • Olives
  • Soy and Nut Milk
  • Kombucha
  • Highly Reviewed Probiotic Supplements

 

Other Nutrients

Sometimes eating a plant based diet makes it difficult to get several necessary vitamins, but there is a way to up your vitamin, mineral, and nutrient game when on a vegan diet. If you’re still at a loss on how to get different nutrients for your vegetarian diet, you might want to find plant based alternatives to eat daily for better general health. These substitutions were taken from PETA’s article about vegan health on their website.

Calcium

Calcium is most often derived from milk and other dairy products. If you are consuming dairy in your vegetarian diet, then you do not need to fear about calcium intake. If you are going for a more vegan approach, dairy is off the table, and you need a new source of calcium. Luckily, orange juice, rice milk, soy milk, and even some tofu brands contain the calcium you need for healthy bones. Broccoli, almonds, beans, and kale are also loaded with calcium.

Iron

Iron is a necessary vitamin for energy and healthy blood. Spinach is one food that is rich in iron, but lentils, oatmeal, nuts, sunflower seeds, molasses, quinoa, and beans are also packed with the nutrient. If you want to absorb more iron, which is ideal for those with low iron levels, vitamin C is ideal for increasing the absorption of iron in the body. Dark green vegetables that are leafy are ideal for getting both iron and vitamin C.

Protein

Protein can be found in many different forms. Many people consider protein only to be found in meats and dairy products like eggs, but there is protein in a few sources you might not have considered before. Since almost all foods have some little amount of protein, you can pick what you want. However, there is food that is packed with protein like nuts, black beans, and tofu.

Vitamin B12

B12 has many benefits throughout the body, so having enough in your diet is crucial. Health experts everywhere suggest and encourage vegetarians and vegan to take multi vitamins that are packed with vitamin B12. You can also find this vitamin in soy milk, rice milk, and even nutritional yeast. Some vegan meats even have vitamin B12.

Omega-3s

Typically, Omega-3s are found in fish and fish products. These fatty acids are important to the good brain, joint, and skin health, but many on a plant-based diet do not consume fish. Instead, foods like walnuts, canola oil, and flaxseeds are great sources of protein for vegetarian and vegan diets. You can also consume certain supplements like DHA that has Omega-3s derived from algae.

Vitamin D

The sunshine vitamin is not only absorbed through the skin when out in the sun, but certain foods contain vitamin D. Tofu, fortified orange juice, nondairy milk, and even mushrooms are packed with vitamin D. This vitamin is necessary for a healthy lifestyle as well since it helps to give you energy. You also need vitamin D to better absorb calcium in the body.

Conclusion

Vegetarian diets, though there are many variations, often miss out on important vitamins, nutrients, and minerals since they often consist of heavily processed foods. These foods are even loaded with sugar, calories, and sodium, among other things. However, a well-balanced vegetarian diet is possible. By using the information above, you can plan your meals each week around the healthy options to get the nutrients you need to live a healthy and well-balanced life.