Health Benefits of a Vegetarian and Vegan Diet
There are some definite health benefits to a vegetarian and vegan diet, and 38 percent who switched did so for this reason. These benefits include a healthy heart, better digestion, and a healthy immune system.
Less Fat and Cholesterol for a Healthy Heart¹
A healthy vegetarian or vegan diet will make it less likely that you develop heart disease because animal protein is high in saturated fat and cholesterol.
“Studies show a positive link between vegetarian eating and health. In general, the incidence of, or the death rate from, health problems – heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer – tends to be lower among vegetarians.” ²
More Antioxidants for a Healthy Immune System
When you eat a plant-based diet, you get more antioxidants. That includes beta-carotene and vitamins C and E. Antioxidants look for and neutralize free radicals that damage cells and DNA. ³
Fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, and nuts also contain Phytochemicals, another type of antioxidant. Plants produce phytochemicals to protect themselves, and some recent research suggests they can also protect humans against serious illnesses.
More Fiber for Better Digestion and Weight Loss
You get lots of dietary fiber from a plant–based diet. Getting enough fiber is needed to eliminate toxins, detoxification, and to keep bowels regular.
Fiber can even help you lose weight.
That’s because if you get more fiber into your meals, you’ll feel more satisfied and feel full longer.⁴
More Vitamins and Minerals for Overall Good Health
By replacing meat with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds, you can get more vitamins and minerals, including more magnesium and folate, into your diet.
No More Harmful Antibiotics and Hormones
Factory raised animals are fed antibiotics and synthetic hormones that get into your system when you eat meat. Synthetic hormones have been linked to cancer. And consuming large amounts of antibiotics makes harmful bacteria resistant to the antibiotics you may need to treat an illness.
A vegetarian or vegan diet will not guarantee all of the health benefits above. You also have to avoid unhealthy, processed foods and stick with fresh, whole foods instead.
1 Paul Insel, R. Elaine Turner, Don Ross, Discovering Nutrition
2 American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, by Roberta Larson Duyff, ADD (American Dietetic Association)
3 University of Maryland Medical Center Quercetin
4 Howarth NC, Saltzman E, Roberts SB, Dietary fiber and weight regulation, Howarth NC, Nutr Rev. 2001 May;59(5):129-39.