January 10, 2014 | Categories: Weight Loss & Nutrition
Going green isn’t just good for the environment: reducing your meat consumption benefits your whole body. “The average American who switches to a healthy reduced-meat or vegetarian diet will lose weight, see improvements in their cholesterol profiles and blood sugar levels, reduce cardiovascular risk, and look healthier,” says Steven Masley, MD, nutritionist and author of The 30-Day Heart Tune-Up: A Breakthrough Medical Plan to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. Here are 10 ways following a vegetarian eating plan (or close to it) can do your body good.
A large, five-year study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in 2013 revealed that people who don’t eat meat have a lower average BMI than meat-eaters, and that vegans have a significantly lower obesity rate than omnivores (9.4% versus 33.3%). Plus, a new study presented at The Obesity Society’s 2013 meeting found that overweight/obese people following a vegan or vegetarian diet lost more weight than those who consumed meat—even though both groups took in the same number of calories.
Consuming saturated fats—which primarily come from meat and dairy—raises the level of cholesterol in your blood, and high levels of blood cholesterol increase your risk of heart disease. Ditching meat automatically lowers the amount of saturated fat in your diet, in turn reducing your cardiovascular disease risk, says Dr. Masley.
Vegetarians and vegans have less hypertension than meat-eaters, according to findings published in the journal Public Health Nutrition. Researchers say it’s due to their lower average weight and higher intakes of fruits and vegetables.
In 2002, researchers at Loma Linda University began a 10-year study of nearly 70,000 Seventh Day Adventists, whose religious doctrine advises them against eating meat. Their research found an association between a vegan diet and a decreased risk for all cancer types. Researchers also discovered that vegetarians experienced less gastrointestinal cancer, such as colorectal cancer, and that vegan women experienced fewer female-specific cancers, such as breast cancer.
Eating more veggies and legumes means your fiber intake will go up, and more fiber means less constipation and improved digestion overall. “I find that many women have purses stocked with digestive aids and over-the-counter products to help them get more bowel regularity, but a vegetarian diet can certainly help with that,” says Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, author of The Flexitarian Diet. When you have regular digestion and are not bloated, you’ll feel thinner, energized, and possibly even sexier, she says.
Read the full article on Health.com.
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