Vegetarian diet: How to get the best nutrition

Vegetarian diet: How to get the best nutrition

A well-planned vegetarian diet is a goodly way to meet your nutritional needs. Find out what you need to know about a plant-based diet .By Mayo Clinic Staff
vegetarian diets continue to increase in popularity. Reasons for following a vegetarian diet are varied but include health benefits, such as reducing your risk of center disease, diabetes and some cancers.

Yet some vegetarians rely besides heavy on processed foods, which can be high in calories, carbohydrate, fatten and sodium. And they may not eat enough fruits, vegetables, whole grains and calcium-rich foods, therefore missing out on the nutrients they provide .
however, with a little planning a vegetarian diet can meet the needs of people of all ages, including children, teenagers, and meaning or breast-feeding women. The key is to be aware of your nutritional needs so that you plan a diet that meets them .

Types of vegetarian diets

When people think about a vegetarian diet, they typically think about a diet that does n’t include meat, poultry or fish. But vegetarian diets vary in what foods they include and exclude :

  • Lacto-vegetarian diets exclude meat, fish, poultry and eggs, as well as foods that contain them. Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, yogurt and butter, are included.
  • Ovo-vegetarian diets exclude meat, poultry, seafood and dairy products, but allow eggs.
  • Lacto-ovo vegetarian diets exclude meat, fish and poultry, but allow dairy products and eggs.
  • Pescatarian diets exclude meat and poultry, dairy, and eggs, but allow fish.
  • Vegan diets exclude meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products — and foods that contain these products.

Some people follow a semivegetarian diet — besides called a flexitarian diet — which is primarily a plant-based diet but includes kernel, dairy, eggs, domestic fowl and pisces on occasion or in small quantities .

Planning a healthy vegetarian diet

To get the most out of a vegetarian diet, choose a variety show of healthy plant-based foods, such as whole fruits and vegetables, legumes and nuts, and whole grains. At the lapp time, cut back on less healthy choices, such as sugar-sweetened beverages, fruit juices and refined grains. If you need help, a file dietician can assist you in creating a vegetarian plan that ‘s right for you .

Vegetarian diet: Daily amounts based on 2,000-calorie diet
Food group* Daily amount
*All foods are assumed to be in nutrient-dense form, lean or low-fat, and prepared without added fats, sugars, refined starches or salt.
Source: 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans
Vegetables 2 1/2 cups a day
Fruits 2 cups a day
Grains (mostly whole) 6 1/2 ounces a day
Dairy 3 cups a day
Protein foods 3 1/2 ounces a day
Oils 27 grams a day

Keep in judgment that the more restrictive your diet is, the more challenge it can be to get all the nutrients you need. A vegan diet, for example, eliminates natural food sources of vitamin B-12, deoxyadenosine monophosphate well as milk products, which are good sources of calcium .
To be certain that your diet includes everything your body needs, pay extra attention to the pursuit nutrients :

Calcium and vitamin D

calcium helps build and maintain strong teeth and bones. milk and dairy foods are highest in calcium. however, colored green vegetables, such as turnip and collard greens, boodle, and broccoli, are good plant sources when corrode in sufficient quantities. Calcium-enriched and spike products, including juices, cereals, soy sauce milk, soy yogurt and bean curd, are other options .
Vitamin D besides plays an crucial role in bone health. Vitamin D is added to cow ‘s milk, some brands of soy sauce and rice milk, and some cereals and margarines. Be surely to check food labels. If you do n’t eat enough fortified foods and have limited sunday exposure, you may need a vitamin D supplement ( one derived from plants ) .

Vitamin B-12

Vitamin B-12 is necessary to produce red blood cells and prevent anemia. This vitamin is found about entirely in animal products, so it can be difficult to get adequate B-12 on a vegan diet. Vitamin B-12 insufficiency may go undetected in people who eat a vegan diet. This is because the vegan diet is rich in a vitamin called vitamin bc, which may mask lack in vitamin B-12 until severe problems occur. For this reason, it ‘s authoritative for vegans to consider vitamin supplements, vitamin-enriched cereals and fortified soy sauce products .


Protein helps maintain healthy bark, bones, muscles and organs. Eggs and dairy products are well sources, and you do n’t need to eat big amounts to meet your protein needs. You can besides get sufficient protein from plant-based foods if you eat a variety of them throughout the day. implant sources include soy sauce products and meat substitutes, legumes, lentils, nuts, seeds, and hale grains .

Omega-3 fatty acids

omega-3 fatty acid fatty acids are crucial for heart health. Diets that do not include fish and eggs are broadly low in active forms of omega-3 fatty acid fatso acids. Canola oil, soy vegetable oil, walnuts, grind linseed and soybeans are good sources of substantive fatty acids. however, because conversion of plant-based omega-3 fatty acid to the types used by humans is inefficient, you may want to consider bastioned products or supplements or both.

Iron and zinc

Iron is a crucial component of red blood cells. Dried beans and peas, lentils, enriched cereals, whole-grain products, benighted leafy green vegetables, and dried fruit are thoroughly sources of iron. Because iron is n’t as easily absorbed from plant sources, the recommend consumption of iron for vegetarians is about double that recommended for nonvegetarians. To help your body absorb iron, corrode foods rich in vitamin C, such as strawberries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, boodle and broccoli, at the same prison term as you ‘re eating iron-containing foods .
Like iron, zinc is not as easily absorbed from plant sources as it is from animal products. tall mallow is a good option if you eat dairy products. Plant sources of zinc include whole grains, soy products, legumes, nuts and wheat source. Zinc is an essential component of many enzymes and plays a role in cell part and in formation of proteins .


Iodine is a component in thyroid hormones, which help regulate metabolism, growth and routine of key organs. Vegans may not get enough tincture of iodine and may be at risk of insufficiency and possibly even a goiter. In addition, foods such as soybeans, cruciferous vegetables and angelic potatoes may promote a goiter. however, merely 1/4 teaspoon of iodize salt a day provides a meaning total of tincture of iodine .

Getting started

One direction to transition to a vegetarian diet is to gradually reduce the kernel in your diet while increasing fruits and vegetables. here are a couple of tips to help you get started :

  • Ramp up. Each week increase the number of meatless meals you already enjoy, such as spaghetti with tomato sauce or vegetable stir-fry. Find ways to include greens, such as spinach, kale, Swiss chard and collards, in your daily meals.
  • Substitute. Take favorite recipes and try them without meat. For example, make vegetarian chili by leaving out the ground beef and adding an extra can of black beans. Or make fajitas using extra-firm tofu rather than chicken. You may be surprised to find that many dishes require only simple substitutions.
  • Branch out. Check the internet for vegetarian menus. Buy or borrow vegetarian cookbooks. Check out ethnic restaurants to sample new vegetarian cuisines. The more variety you bring to your vegetarian diet, the more likely you’ll be to meet all your nutritional needs.

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