A well balance vegetarian diet should include a wi…

October 28, 2006

A well balance vegetarian diet should include a wide variety of foods and enough calories to meet your energy needs.

Like all diets (non-vegetarian included), try to keep your intake of sweets and fatty foods to a minimum. Choose whole or unrefined grain products when possible, use fortified or enriched cereal products. Include vitamins supplements in your diet.

If you use milk or dairy products, choose fat-free/nonfat and low-fat varieties. Eggs are high in cholesterol (213 mg per yolk), so monitor your use of them. Limit your cholesterol intake to no more than 300 mg per day.

Here’s a rough guide of what nutrients vegetarians should include in their diet:

Protein. Plant protein provides enough essentail & non-essential amino-acids as longs are the dietary proteins are varied and the calorie intake in high enough to meet energy needs. Soy protein is as good as animal protein. It can be the sole protein source.

Whole grains, legumes, vegetables, seeds and nuts all contain both essential and non-essential amino acids. They are “complementary proteins” & can be combined within a meal.

Iron. The richest sources of iron in a vegetarian diet comes from dried beans, spinach, enriched products, brewer’s yeast and dried fruits.

Vitamin B-12. A reliable source of vitamin B-12 can be found in some fortified (not enriched) breakfast cereals, fortified soy beverages, some brands of nutritional (brewer’s) yeast and other foods (check the labels), as well as vitamin supplements.

Vitamin D. The most reliable source is sunlight. If you don’t get much sunlight, you may need a supplement.

Calcium. Studies show that vegetarians absorb and retain more calcium from foods than non-vegetarians do. Vegetable greens such as spinach, kale and broccoli, and some legumes and soybean products, are good sources of calcium from plants.

Zinc. Zinc is needed for growth and development. Good plant sources include grains, nuts and legumes.

Source: American Heart Association

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