Letting go of meat might seem like a hard task, but when faced with the dangers of high cholesterol, you might be looking to make changes in your lifestyle to tackle the problem. Does a vegetarian diet really translate to lower cholesterol levels?
What Research Shows
Many studies have been carried out across the globe on the effect of a vegetarian diet on cholesterol levels. Almost all of them show that a vegetarian diet does reduce cholesterol levels.
The studies also established that, apart from reducing cholesterol levels, a vegetarian diet reduces the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and even some forms of cancer.
How Does A Vegetarian Diet Lower Cholesterol?
There are many reasons a vegetarian diet reduces cholesterol. Most of the research points to the nutritional value of vegetarian food. A vegetarian diet is low in saturated fat and rich in soluble fiber, plant steroids, and soy protein. This type of diet results in lower body weight, which in turn reduces the chance of any type of heart disease.
A Balanced Vegetarian Diet Is Key
When planning your vegetarian meals, it is important to ensure you are getting a balanced diet which provides you with all the required nutrients at the right amounts.
- Protein: You need to ensure that you compensate for the protein that you will be missing out on when you cut out meat from your diet. Add foods like soy, tofu, pulses, and legumes as they are all rich in protein.
- Iron: Vegetarians might find that they are at a higher risk for iron deficiency than others who have a meat-rich diet. You should add protein-rich foods like spinach, dried beans, and yeast into your diet. You can also talk to your healthcare provider about iron supplements.
- Vitamin B12: This is a nutrient that is known to have a positive effect on heart disease and is, unfortunately, lacking in the vegetarian diet. You can correct this deficiency by adding dried seaweed or nori to your diet or by taking a daily supplement.
- Zinc: You will find this mineral in grains, nuts, and legumes.
- Vitamin D: If you’ve decided to go the extra mile and have adopted a vegan diet, then the lack of dairy products in your diet could cause a deficiency in vitamin D. In this case as well, it is best to discuss the same with your doctor and get a prescription for vitamin D.