Articles on vegetarian nutrition

Is Vegetarian Diet Better?

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
A Vegetarian diet basically comprises abstaining from the consumption of red meat, poultry, seafood and meat/flesh of any other animal. There are a lot of proponents of vegetarianism coming up across the world. In fact, many celebrities and public figures have turned vegetarian and support as voluntary ambassadors of the cause. Let’s figure out whether a vegetarian diet is healthier than a non-vegetarian diet. We gain a better understanding by analyzing certain research studies by health scientists. According to one such study and analysis; Vegetarians seem to have lower blood pressure.The question that arises is whether adopting a vegetarian diet would be a useful strategy for lowering blood pressure. People who are on a vegetarian diet have lower BMI in comparison to people who are omnivorous, because vegetarian diets have higher fiber and lower fat content.Another reason can be that vegetarian diets are lower than omnivorous diets in saturated fatty acids and higher in polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are linked with lower blood pressure. Also, vegetarians usually have lower blood viscosity. This could affect their blood pressure positively.According to another research from Loma Linda University published in the journal Diabetes Care, vegetarians experience a 36 percent lower prevalence of metabolic syndromes than non-vegetarians. Researchers have done their studies on certain subjects by segregating them into non veg eaters and vegetarian eaters and found that a percentage of the participants, who were in basically vegetarians, had a lower risk of metabolic syndromes than non-vegetarians. “This work again shows that diet improves many of the main cardiovascular risk factors that are part of metabolic syndrome," says Gary Fraser, MD, PhD, principal investigator of Adventist Health Study 2. "Trending toward a plant-based diet is a sensible choice."However, recent research has also focused on the presence of a variety of specific nutrients in plant foods that have health-promoting qualities.Fiber: Plant foods such as whole grains, beans, legumes, fruits, vegetables, and nuts provide dietary fiber. High intake of dietary fiber may reduce your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, premenstrual syndrome, and colon cancer.Antioxidants: Fruits and vegetables contain high amounts of vitamin C, vitamin E, and carotenoids, all of which act as antioxidants, protecting your cells from the damaging effects of free radicalsPhytonutrients: Plant foods contain a variety of unique nutrients such as phytoestrogens, indoles, isothiocyanates, and flavonoids. Emerging research indicates that these nutrients may help in preventing cancer, heart disease, and other degenerative diseases.Who BenefitsA vegetarian diet may be especially beneficial for overweight individuals, as well as for women with premenstrual syndrome and individuals with diabetes, high blood pressure and/or cardiovascular disease.

Easy Ways to Add Protein to a Vegetarian Diet

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
If you are worried of getting adequate amount of protein in vegetarian diet, then you will be surprised by know that there are some good protein options as well as an easy way to inculcate in vegetarians dietary schedule. Protein is a very vital nutrient which has numerous benefits from development in human body till a fact it plays an essential role in fighting with infections as well as chronic diseases. According to ICMR, a balance diet should provide around 60-70% of total calories from carbohydrates, 10-12% from protein and 20-25% of total calories from fat. Let’s have a look on the following easy ways of adding protein in vegetarian’s diet.Introduce cottage cheese (paneer) in your diet1 cup of cottage cheese (100gms) contain 11g proteinCottage cheese contains all the essential amino acids which prove to be a complete protein. It can be added in various forms in all the meals whether it is main course or snacks.Some easy options of including cottage cheese in daily routine are sandwiches with mint chutney as a spread, one can include in salads, in soups without cream dressing, cubes of cottage cheese can be added in upma, vermicille, another common and easy preparation is paneer curry, paneer pulao and paneer bhurji served with chapatti according to body requirements.Eat Beans and lentils1 cup of beans (100gms) contain 22g protein1 cup of lentils (100gms) contain 9g proteinAll beans, lentils and peas are an excellent vegetarian and vegan source of protein so eat whichever you like e.g. black beans, kidney beans, green peas, whole dhals.Some more easy way to include in your daily routine are one can add them in breakfast in the form of sprouts, soups like split pea soup, one can consume as an evening snack by making healthy chaat of beans by sprouting them, These power packs can be a part of healthy salads.Soy and soy products1 cup of soya bean (100gms) contain 36g protein1 cup of its product like soy milk contain 3.3g protein1 cup of soy flour(100gms) contain 36gSoy and soy products is a complete protein because it contain all the essential amino acids. People who are lactose intolerance for them soya products are best optionInclude them in the form of milk, used soybean as a curry for lunch and dinnerNut and seeds1 cup of almonds (100gms ) contain 21g protein.1 cup of peanuts contain(100gm) contain 26g protein1 cup of walnuts contain (100gm) contain 15g protein1 cup of sesame seeds contain (100gm) contain 15g protein1 cup of sunflower seeds contain (100gm) contain 21g proteinThese nuts and seeds all contain protein but most of them contain healthy fats also so you don’t have to make them as your primary source. You can add them at the time of snacking so that it cannot add on extra calories. They can be best as a post workout meal.Healthy protein recipes ideasHigh protein breakfastScrambled paneer with multigrain toastPaneer vegetable sandwichBanana smoothie with multigrain toastCereal porridge with added handful of nutsSoya milk with vegetable sandwich 2. High protein lunch and dinnersCurries made of paneer and soyaBean and lentils in the form of curryCurries of peaPaneer tikka 3. High protein saladsThree bean saladPaneer tomato salad 4. High Protein soupsBean soupLentil soupPea slit soupVegetable soup with added cubes of paneer 5. High Protein snacksTrail mix of nuts and seedsMurmura chaat with addition of paneerSalad like paneer or mixed bean saladSprout chaat of beanBy including these above easy recipes, Vegetarians can easily obtain adequate amount of protein in their diets which will help them to lead a healthy life.                    

Building Muscles on a Vegetarian Diet? It's Possible!

Dr. Sangeeta Malu, Dietitian/Nutritionist
With celebrities like NFL running back Adrian Foster and former President Bill Clinton embracing a vegan lifestyle, many people are swearing by the benefits of plant-based nutrition.So, what exactly is the answer to this peculiar question: is it possible to build muscles on a vegetarian diet? YES, IT IS! Eating meat to go big is so last generation. Today, putting together together a mass-gaining meal plan based on plant foods should be done wisely and strategically. A calorie surplus from healthy whole food sources, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans/nuts, and getting plenty of protein is the way to go. It doesn't matter whether the source of protein is vegetarian or non-vegetarian. A vegetarian diet can provide adequate proteins from dairy foods, nuts like almonds, dals and pulses. Secondly, a lot of weight training goes into building of muscles. For this adequate energy is needed which can come from carbohydrates and fats. It's best to consult with a sports nutritionist or a qualified dietitian before you make unhealthy choices to build muscles.Building muscles on a vegetarian diet can be a bit challenging compared to building muscles on meat, but surely it is not impossible. A few good examples from the world of our Indian wrestlers, including Olympic medalist Sushil Kumar should be proof enough that muscles can be built with veg food. However, the problem arises due to the poor choices most vegetarians make. Most vegetarian diets lack sufficient protein and are heavy on the carbs, think the typical Indian meal of rice and potatoes. A healthy veg diet to build muscles should include a variety of dal,with combination of cereals and pulses; dairy products, and nuts. Make sure you get enough protein in your diet and eat sufficient calories to build muscles. Along with the protein be sure to get quality fats like coconut oil, ghee, butter, etc for healthy hormone production. Without adequate fat in your diet, the body will not produce enough testosterone to build muscle.

Nutrition for the Elderly

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Are the seniors in Your Life Eating Well? No matter your age, it is important to get the right amount of nutrients every day. However, the elderly are often at a higher risk for certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies due to a variety of factors, such as low activity, slow body functions, comparatively a weaker immunity or poorly balanced diet and medication consumption. Talk to your dietitian and doctor about your changing nutritional needs as you age, and ask him/her about making changes to your diet or taking supplements to help prevent any of the nutritional deficiencies.Studies show that a good diet in your later years reduces your risk of osteoporosis, heart diseases and certain cancers. As you age, you might need less energy. But you still need just as many of the nutrients in food. To get the proper nutrition for the elderly, refer the following guidelines related to food and nutrition.Vitamin B-12Elderly men and women have a higher risk of B-12 deficiency because their stomachs do not contain an adequate amount of hydrochloric acid, which helps the body absorb the B-12 in food. For this reason, those over 50 should get the bulk of their vitamin B-12 through supplements or fortified foods like cereals, milk etc.ZincZinc is important for immune system health, wound healing, and blood clotting and thyroid function. Symptoms of zinc deficiency include loss of appetite, lack of taste or smell, hair loss, skin problems and depression. Men need 11 milligrams of zinc a day, and women need 8 milligrams, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. You can get this amount by eating foods like red meat, fish, poultry, cheese, legumes, whole grains and sunflower seeds.Calcium and Vitamin DAs you get older, your risks of losing bone mass and developing osteoporosis increase. Along with regular exercise, consuming adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D can help keep your skeletal system strong and slow bone loss. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, men and women over the age of 65 needs between 1,200 and 1,500 milligrams of calcium a day, and good food sources include dairy products like milk and cheese. Early morning sunshine is the best source of vitamin D.Other Considerations regarding Nutrition for the ElderlyOffer nutritionally-dense foods. Since many seniors aren't eating as much as they should, the food they do eat must be as nutritious as possible. Encourage whole, unprocessed foods that are balanced in calories and nutrients for their size.Enhance aromas and flavors. Appealing foods may help stimulate appetite, especially in someone whose senses of taste and smell aren't what they used to be.Make eating a social event. Many seniors who live alone or suffer from depression may stop cooking meals, lose their appetites, and depend on convenience foods. If you are worried that your parent or grandparent isn't eating properly, make meals a family occasion.Encourage healthy snacking. Many seniors don’t like to eat large meals or don't feel hungry enough to eat three full meals a day. One solution is to encourage or plan for several mini-meals throughout the day.Nutrition for the Elderly-How can they stay on track Eating healthily is an ongoing commitment, but it’s easier than you think. Here are some tips for staying on course:Ask for help. Admit when you need a hand to shop, cook, and plan meals and find someone to help. It’s important for your health not to revert to frozen dinners or takeout food.Variety, variety, variety! Try eating and cooking something new as soon as boredom strikes.Make every meal “do-able.” Healthy eating needn't be a big production. Keep it simple and you’ll stick with it. Stocking the pantry and fridge with wholesome choices will make it easier to prepare quick, tasty meals.Set the mealtime mood. Set the table, light candles, play music, or eat outside or by a window when possible. Tidying yourself and your space will help you enjoy the moment.Break habits. If you eat watching TV, try eating while reading or use the time to catch up with your spouse or a friend. If you eat at the counter, set the table instead.

Food and Nutrition: Boost Your Mood With Some Food

Dr. Sangeeta Malu, Dietitian/Nutritionist
If you thought poor nutrition only affected the poor, think again. Millions of human beings across the world suffer from under-nutrition. Under nutrition refers not to lack of access to food, but to the body's inability to absorb nutrients. As the saying goes, you are what you eat. This doesn't apply only to your physical health, but to your mental health as well. Here are some things you should know about foods and your moods.  Say NO! to these foods1. Dump the junkMost fast foods contain trans-fats, artificial colors, monosodium glutamate (MSG), artificial sweeteners and other synthetic ingredients and have little nutritional value. These ingredients have been linked to irritability and depression in the long run.2. Sugar and glutenThe sugar and gluten present in some foods affect mental health. Consuming them in high quantities will suppress BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor) activity BDNF is a growth protein which keeps brain neurons healthy. This can lead to depression, schizophrenia and other mental problems in people.Say YES! to these foods1. Omega-3 fatty acidsFoods like flax seed, walnuts and salmon contain Omega 3, which affects neurotransmitter pathways in the brain, and improves heart function by reducing bad cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol.2. L-Tryptophanis an essential nutrient for brain function. This amino acid is responsible for the production of a chemical called serotonin, which is used to treat people with depression. This can be found in red meat, dairy products and turkey.3. MagnesiumThis vitamin helps maintain physical and mental health. Leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts and avocados contain magnesium, and their regular consumption will keep your mood light and your body healthy.4. Folic acid and vitamin B-12Both these essential nutrients increase metabolism and production of blood cells, which keep the brain healthy.Low levels of these nutrients are associated with depression and mood swings. Folic acid is present in fruits and leafy vegetables, and vitamin B 12 in seafood, meat and dairy products.What we eat determines how we feel! So, eat right and boost your mood with nutrition dense food!

Be Vegetarian, Gain Muscle

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Many vegetarians wonder if gaining muscle is possible on a vegetarian diet? The short answer is yes, it is possible to be vegetarian and gain muscle.The biggest advantage of eating meat is that the protein is higher quality, which means that more protein per gm of meat consumed is used to make muscle, than compared to a vegetarian source like plant protein. That being said, we're here to show you how to gain muscle on a veggie diet.There are many plant based vegetarians protein sources, like beans, almonds, yogurt etc. Besides providing protein, they are also packed with fiber, antioxidants and healthy carbohydrates that further enhance muscle growth and repair.In terms of protein delivery to muscle, plant based protein is of lower quality, so vegetarians need to eat more protein based food to gain muscle. If you can eat eggs, egg protein is of the highest quality and are packed with vitamins.Even with eggs, its hard to deliver a large amount of protein, so a really good source of vegetarian high quality protein is whey protein. Whey Protein supplement is extracted from milk, and is even used in nutrition drinks like Bournvita and Complan. Get a high quality whey supplement. Mix it with yogurt, milk, juice or water, and it provides a really effective dose of protein for a pre-workout snack or a post workout snack.Even Bollywood's latest muscle hunk, Shahid Kapoor has a vegetarian diet. We hear that he has 3 protein shakes a day. Waiting for confirmation from Shahid on that :)

All About Vegan Diet

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Veganism is a type of vegetarian diet that excludes meat, eggs, dairy and all other animal-derived ingredients. Many vegans also do not eat foods that are processed using animal products, such as refined white sugar and some wines.A vegan diet includes all grains, beans, legumes, vegetables and fruits and the nearly infinite number of foods made by combining them.Difference between Vegetarian and a Vegan -Some people may disagree with the meaning of vegetarianism. The general interpretation is that a vegan will not consume any foods of animal origin, not even honey, while a vegetarian might consume eggs (ovo-vegetarian), or dairy (lacto-vegetarian).The three main reasons people adopt veganism are -1) Protecting AnimalsVegans do not consume or use dairy products or eggs even though doing so would not kill the animal. Part of the reason is a belief in the absolute right of animals to exist freely without human interference.2) EnvironmentA vegan believes that producing food through animal farming is inefficient, because animal feed production takes up a lot of land, fertilizer, water, and other resources - resources that could be used for feeding humans.3) HealthEating too much of animal fats (mainly red meats) and too much of animal proteins has been shown in studies to raise a person´s risk of developing cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, heart disease, and a number of other illnesses and conditions.Whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes contain no cholesterol and are low in fat, especially saturated fats. They are also high in fiber and other nutrients.Advantages of Vegan Diet -Vegan diets tend to be higher in dietary fibre, magnesium, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E, iron, and phyto-chemicals, and lower in calories, saturated fat, and cholesterol. They may help lower blood pressure and increases anti-oxidant intake. But you should check for the salt and potassium content, as you’ll likely to get more potassium than most.Disadvantages of Vegan Diet -Nutritionally animal foods too have their benefits. They are excellent source of complete protein, containing all the amino acids that human body needs to develop and maintain muscles. They are also excellent source of heme iron (which is very readily absorbed by the body) and Vitamin B12. B12 is critical for life and isn't found in any amount in plants (except some types of algae), it is by far the most important nutrient that vegans must be concerned with. In fact, B12 deficiency is very common in vegans. Vegan diets are lower in vitamin D, calcium, zinc, and vitamin B12. The EPIC- Oxford study suggested that vegans have an increased risk of bone fractures over meat eaters and vegetarians, likely because of lower dietary calcium intake.Hence, eating a vegan diet may be good for health and may feature as a healthy diet. But that does not mean that one’s entire diet has to be on vegan to be in excellent health. We should focus on balanced nutritional plan rather than a particular diet plan.

Vegan Diets in a Nutshell

Mr. Kaleem Mohammed, Physiotherapist
Plant-Based diets are popular. Reasons for following a plant-based diet are varied but include health benefits, such as reducing your risk of major disorders such as diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. A vegan diet is a meal plan made up of plant-based food. These include fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts. Healthy vegan diets are abundant with vitamins C, B1 and E, magnesium, folic acid and iron while also being low in cholesterol and saturated fats.A vegan diet can decrease the risk of mortality from conditions such as:Type 2 diabetesHypertensionStrokeObesityCardiovascular diseaseIschemic heart diseaseSome cancers including prostate and colon cancer1. To lose weight or slim down plant-based food works greatWhen you cut out animal products, you will find that it is easier to stay slim as you are not consuming high amounts of saturated fats from meat and dairy products. These are the top weight loss vegetarian foods; dark green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, soya products and beans, cereals and grains, fruits.2. Vegan diet is healthyVegetarians have lower cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure (B.P), a lower rate of type 2 diabetes, low body mass index, a lower risk of death from heart diseases and cancer rates. Science and research confirm that you do not need meat to be healthy at all, in fact, in fact, statistics point to quite the opposite.3. Going vegan can improve your sports skills, not weaken itWhat you may not be aware of is just how many successful athletes are vegan. You may be familiar with the name; Anil Kumble is recognized as Indian cricket spin legend. He entered the record books by capturing all 10 Pakistani wickets. India won many test matches with his magical spin bowling.4. Consuming vegan diet boosts your immunity and is anti-cancerSince vegetables and fruits are rich in super nutrients, and many have anti-oxidant purposes, they can boost the immune system and help the body fight against the disease. 5. Vegans are more beautifulVegans who consume a healthy amount of vegetables and fruits are feeding and nurturing the health of their hair, skin and nails meaning that they glow with health.6. Plant-based or vegan diet help your arthritisEliminating dairy consumption alleviating the symptoms associated with arthritis for a long time, but a new study by the Stockholm Karolinska University shows that a combination of gluten-free and vegetarian diets improves the health of those who are suffering from R.A (rheumatoid arthritis) very efficiently.7. You will live longerMany studies show that those following a vegetarian or vegan diet will live an average of 3 to 6 years longer than those who do not.8. No bad breath and less body odourEliminating dairy and non-veg from your diet significantly reduces body odour, and vegans frequently experience a reduction in bad breath.

Problem With Vegetarian Diets

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Being vegetarian is healthy but sometimes just eating vegetarian food might not be enough. Though a vegetarian diet is balanced and contains most of the essential nutrients there might be some micro nutrients missing from the otherwise healthy diet.Vegetarian sources might not be able to meet your daily nutrient requirement especially if you already have a deficiency or don’t consume supplements. The following are the most common micro nutrients that may be lacking in a vegetarian diet.Vitamin B12: B12 is created by a particular type of bacteria that’s mainly found in the digestive tracts of animals, which means foods like milk, eggs, meat, and fish are the major dietary sources of the vitamin. All the Vitamin B12 found in the nature is synthesized by micro-organisms. The vitamin is absent in plant foods. Vegan diets or a strict vegetarian have the highest risk of deficiency. Vitamin B12 deficiency causes a number of problems, including weakness, tiredness, constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss, poor memory, and megaloblastic anemia.Vitamin D: There are two major types of vitamin D:Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) – which is synthesized by plants and is not produced by the human body.Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) – which is made in large quantities in the skin when sunlight strikes bare skin. It can also be ingested from animal sources.Vitamin D3 is approximately three times more effective at maintaining serum concentrations because the binding protein has a higher affinity to vitamin D3 than vitamin D2. This allows vitamin D3 to reside in the circulatory system longer and increase the concentration to sufficient levels more quickly.Iron (Heme): Iron is essential for health and transporting oxygen. A deficiency in iron causes fatigue and decreased immune function. There are two forms of dietary iron: heme and non-heme. Heme iron is found in animal foods. Heme iron, derived from the hemoglobin and myoglobin is found in meat tissue. Heme Iron is useful in the production of Red Blood Cells in humans. The iron absorption from heme iron ranges from 15%-35% while the absorption from non-heme iron is only 2%-20%. Evidence does show that body iron stores in vegetarians do tend to be lower. Meat, fish, poultry and vitamin C improve the absorption of non-heme iron.

Why Vegetarians Might Live Longer?

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Vegetarians might live longer, according to a new study in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, “Eating a vegetarian diet may be associated with living longer”.Being vegetarian is healthy but sometimes just eating vegetarian food might not be enough. Though a vegetarian diet is balanced and contains most of the essential nutrients, there might be some micro nutrients missing from the otherwise healthy and light diet, for eg., Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Heme(iron), etc.Here are some of the benefits of having a vegetarian diet: 1. Lowers Blood pressure The ratio of polyunsaturated to saturated fat (P/S ratio) in the diet may affect blood pressure. Increasing the P/S ratio to 1 or more with approximately 25% of energy as fat has been associated with low blood pressure in hypertensive patients. This effect appears to be independent of sodium balance or body weight. This mechanism of blood pressure lowering effects is thought to involve prostaglandin metabolism.2. Lowers the risk of heart diseases Low glycemic index diets may preserve HDL cholesterol and thus have a potentially positive effect in reducing CHD risk. They may reduce plasma fatty acids and may suppress production of release of signaling hormones from adipose tissue, reversing dyslipidemia and insulin resistance. The foods are slowly absorbed and have metabolic benefits which decrease the risk of CHD.3. Lowers the risk of cancer Antioxidants are chemicals that interact with and neutralize free radicals, thus preventing cancer causing free radicals from causing damage. Antioxidants are also known as “free radical scavengers”. Fruits, vegetables, and grains are rich sources of dietary antioxidants, which include beta-carotene, lycopene, and vitamins A, C, and E (alpha-tocopherol).4. Lowers the risk of diabetes Vegetarian diets are high in fiber, which slows down the emptying of the stomach and delays intestinal transit. This reduces the rate of glucose absorption, lowers blood sugar rise, and decreases urinary glucose excretion.5. Helps control your weight Vegetarian diets are high in fiber, low on the glycemic index and low in calorie density, which helps you fill your appetite and also provides satiety. Higher intake of vegetarian food may help you cut calories. Due to slower rate of digestion and absorption in the small intestine, nutrient receptors in the gastro-intestinal tract are stimulated for a longer period of time, resulting in higher satiety levels.Being on a vegetarian diet won’t help you get all the essential nutrients that your body requires. According to the food guide pyramid, intake of animal foods like eggs/chicken/fish should be 2-3 servings a day to make up for the nutrients lacking in vegetarian diets.