By Hugh Finlay
Vegetarian diets can lower cholesterol but may also result in nutrient deficiencies if the diet is based on processed foods
A vegetarian diet, one that reduces meat consumption to under one meal a month, is regenerative and detoxifying, bringing greater health to the body. Meat consumption puts pressure on the digestive system, and increases inflammation in the body. Acidity also increases, and the absorption of nutrients is also hindered.
Almost 50 studies have shown that, a vegetarian diet can reduce cholesterol levels, lower inflammation, and create more cellular energy. So, a vegetarian diet can help to prevent Type-2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, vascular diseases, and stroke. Generally, vegetarians have about 30 milligrams less cholesterol per deciliter moving about in their bodies, than meat eaters. This is mainly because a vegetarian eats less saturated fat than meat eaters. Healthier cholesterol can be gotten from plant sources such as fruits, leafy greens and nuts. But, vegetarians need to be careful, to recognize the importance of eating healthy fats. These fats help to build cell membranes in the body. They also help to attract nutrients into the Krebs’s cycle of the cells, which is responsible for producing cellular energy in the body.
Examples of fats that are needed for the generation of energy at the level of the cells are polyunsaturated fats, such as omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. One of the best oils for supplying these plant based fats is flax seed oil. It is good for both vegetarians and meat eaters. Flax seed and flax seed oil are good for the heart, as well as being affordable, and a great ingredient for adding to shakes, smoothies, and oatmeal.
Not all vegetarian diets are healthy
Some vegetarian foods in the marketplace are highly processed, and low in nutrition. They could be fortified with isolated nutrients which pass straight through the body undigested. In trying to avoid eating meat, vegetarians may decide to eat processed vegetarian foods which have little or no nutrients that are bio-available. For example, vegetarians might eat canned meat substitutes. These products may have more preservatives in them than anything else.
One of the main things to look out for is trans-fats, also known as hydrogenated oils or fats. These trans-fats, which are found in a variety of processed foods, shortening, and fried foods, increase levels of bad cholesterol, known as LDL, and also lower good levels of cholesterol known as HDL. Bad cholesterol, whose scientific name is low-density lipoprotein, gathers in the artery lining and forms into larger particles, which blocks or restricts blood flow. Good cholesterol, known in science as high density lipoprotein, takes cholesterol away from peripheral tissues, and out of the body. It is best to avoid trans-fats completely, whether you are a vegetarian or a meat eater.
There is an important point, which is that balanced health is not to do with strictly following a diet. It is more about making healthy choices and being adaptable according to the needs of the moment. Multivitamin pills may offer a high level of nutrition, but a lot of this nutrition may be from isolates which just pass undigested through the body. Vegetarian diets made up of processed foods can be full of chemical preservatives, or so-called natural flavors, which are really synthetic compounds which interfere with healthy function of the body’s organs.
Being healthy is not about following a “perfect diet.” It is more to do with adapting one’s diet to situations in life, and addressing nutrient deficiencies in the body. It is important to be aware of what the body needs by reading the signs, and responding by incorproating the right foods.
Unprocessed foods are vital
Plants have special properties that keep vital organs healthy. For example, ginger contains substances that help digestion and reduce the risk of colon cancer. Mullein leaf increases demulcent properties which help mucous membranes and help to treat whooping cough and bronchitis. Almost every plant you can think of has health benefits.