Article

Vegetarian diets: what are the advantages?

Institute of Nutritional Sciences, University of Giessen, Giessen, Germany.
Forum of nutrition 02/2005; DOI: 10.1159/000083787
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT A growing body of scientific evidence indicates that wholesome vegetarian diets offer distinct advantages compared to diets containing meat and other foods of animal origin. The benefits arise from lower intakes of saturated fat, cholesterol and animal protein as well as higher intakes of complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, magnesium, folic acid, vitamin C and E, carotenoids and other phytochemicals. Since vegetarians consume widely divergent diets, a differentiation between various types of vegetarian diets is necessary. Indeed, many contradictions and misunderstandings concerning vegetarianism are due to scientific data from studies without this differentiation. In the past, vegetarian diets have been described as being deficient in several nutrients including protein, iron, zinc, calcium, vitamin B12 and A, n-3 fatty acids and iodine. Numerous studies have demonstrated that the observed deficiencies are usually due to poor meal planning. Well-balanced vegetarian diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including children, adolescents, pregnant and lactating women, the elderly and competitive athletes. In most cases, vegetarian diets are beneficial in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, renal disease and dementia, as well as diverticular disease, gallstones and rheumatoid arthritis. The reasons for choosing a vegetarian diet often go beyond health and well-being and include among others economical, ecological and social concerns. The influences of these aspects of vegetarian diets are the subject of the new field of nutritional ecology that is concerned with sustainable life styles and human development.

4 Bookmarks
 · 
165 Views
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Early human food cultures were plant-based. Major religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism have recommended a vegetarian way of life since their conception. The recorded history of vegetarian nutrition started in the sixth century bc by followers of the Orphic mysteries. The Greek philosopher Pythagoras is considered the father of ethical vegetarianism. The Pythagorean way of life was followed by a number of important personalities and influenced vegetarian nutrition until the 19th century. In Europe, vegetarian nutrition more or less disappeared during the Middle Ages. In the Renaissance era and in the Age of Enlightenment, various personalities practiced vegetarianism. The first vegetarian society was started in England in 1847. The International Vegetarian Society was founded in 1908 and the first vegan society began in 1944. Prominent vegetarians during this time included Sylvester Graham, John Harvey Kellogg, and Maximilian Bircher-Benner. A paradigm shift occurred at the turn of the 21st century. The former prejudices that vegetarianism leads to malnutrition were replaced by scientific evidence showing that vegetarian nutrition reduces the risk of most contemporary diseases. Today, vegetarian nutrition has a growing international following and is increasingly accepted. The main reasons for this trend are health concerns and ethical, ecologic, and social issues. The future of vegetarian nutrition is promising because sustainable nutrition is crucial for the well-being of humankind. An increasing number of people do not want animals to suffer nor do they want climate change; they want to avoid preventable diseases and to secure a livable future for generations to come.
    American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 06/2014; 100(Supplement_1). · 6.50 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Introduction: Recent studies have indicated that diets rich in sodium may predispose to the development of obesity, either directly, or be associated with the consumption of foods that promote weight gain. Objetive: The aims of this study were to analyze the association between urinary sodium and the presence of excess of weight. Additionally, the study investigated the relationships between salt intake and dietary habits, as a high salt intake may be associated with inadequate eating habits and a high incidence of obesity. Methods: This study involved 418 adults (196 men and 222 women) aged 18 to 60 years old. Weight, height and waist circumference were measured, and we calculated, BMI and waist/height ratio. Dietary intake was estimated using a "24 h recalls", for two consecutive days, and sodium content was determined from 24 h urine sample. Results: The 34.4% of the population had overweight and 13.6% had obesity. A positive association was seen between BMI and urinary sodium concentration. Urine sodium values were also positively associated with others adiposity indicators such as waist circumference and waist/height ratio. Body weight, BMI, waist circumference, and waist/height ratio were higher in the group of individuals with a urinary sodium excretion ≥154 mmol/l (Percentile 50) (P50). Additionally, individuals placed in this group presented a higher caloric intake and total food intake, in particular, more meat, processed food and snacks. Adjusting by energy intake, a higher sodium intake was a risk factor of being overweight or obese (OR = 1.0041, IC 95% 1.0015-1.0067, p < 0.01). Conclusions: Salt intake was associated with obesity; since people with higher sodium intake consumed more energy and presented worse eating habits. Additionally, sodium intake itself appears to be related to obesity.
    Nutricion hospitalaria. 01/2014; 29(n06):1283-1289.
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Surveys over the past 10 years have shown that Australians are increasingly consuming more plant-based vegetarian meals. Many studies demonstrate the health benefits of vegetarian diets. As with any type of eating plan, vegetarian diets must be well planned to ensure nutritional needs are being met. This clinical focus project shows that well planned vegetarian diets can meet almost all the nutritional needs of children and adults of all ages. Sample single-day lacto-ovo-vegetarian meal plans were developed to comply with the nutrient reference values - including the increased requirements for iron and zinc at 180% and 150%, respectively, for vegetarians - for both sexes and all age groups set by Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council and the New Zealand Ministry of Health. With the exception of vitamin D, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and extended iron requirements in pregnancy for vegetarians, the meal plans meet key requirements with respect to energy; protein; carbohydrate; total fat; saturated, poly- and monounsaturated fats; α-linolenic acid; fibre; iron; zinc; calcium; folate; and vitamins A, C, E and B12.
    MJA Open. 01/2012; 1(Suppl 2):33-40.