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.