The People's Perspective on Medicine

Make Sure Your Vegetarian Diet Is High Quality

Recent research suggests that people who follow a high-quality vegetarian diet rich in minimally-processed plant foods control their weight and their blood sugar better.

A vegetarian diet can be beneficial, but even vegetarians need to pay attention to the quality of the food they eat. Harvard researchers who have tracked the dietary habits and health of more than 125,000 men and women for decades found that those who followed high-quality plant-based diets controlled their weight better. Such diets are rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, seed and whole grains.

Conversely, those whose diets contained more fries, refined grains and sweetened beverages and snacks were significantly more likely to gain weight. The scientists presented their data at the Society for Nutrition annual meeting, Nutrition 2018, Boston, June 10, 2018.

Following a Vegetarian Diet for Better Health:

Another study of South Asians living in the US found that those following a vegetarian diet had fewer risk factors for diabetes and heart disease (Society for Nutrition annual meeting, Nutrition 2018, Boston, June 10, 2018). Although the vegetarians consumed more carbohydrates, they had lower body mass index and smaller waist circumferences. They also had lower fasting glucose and LDL cholesterol levels, suggesting healthier metabolism.

More Data on Quality Vegetarian Diets:

Additional studies from Brazil and the Netherlands found that people relying on plant protein more than animal protein had lower risks of cardiovascular disease (Society for Nutrition annual meeting, Nutrition 2018, Boston, June 10, 2018). Here again, though, the best diets contain minimally processed foods. Those food choices tend to be richer in fiber, minerals and vitamins than highly processed foods.

If you would like to learn more about where to get protein in a vegetarian diet, you may wish to listen to our interview with Dr. Christopher Gardner. It is Show 1126.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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I’m 70 and vegetarian for 35 years. People don’t give up meat for ONLY one reason:They don’t want to, and society reinforces this attitude at every turn.

In a first world county it’s practically impossible to become protein deficient yet that old bugaboo just won’t die.

My husband and I have been vegetarians since 1976.

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