Vegetarian Diets Provide Complete Nutrition And Can Prevent Diseases.Learn More About The Vegan Diet Plan, Raw Vegan Diet, And Vegetarian Nutrition
What are Healthy Diets And Can They Heal Disease?
There are multiple types of vegetarian diets and you should read more about each one to find out if any of these heart healthy diets may work for you to improve your health, energy, digestion, and overall well being. The right vegetarian or vegan diet can also be a great and healthy weight loss diet plan.
Find out more about the lacto-ovo vegetarian diet, vegan diet, raw vegan diet, and the macrobiotic diet on this page.
Concerns about insufficient nutrients like protein, calcium, iron, vitamin B12, etc. are totally unfounded in these vegetarian diets and healthy diet plans. In fact, the current government guidelines for daily nutrient requirements are rather outdated and highly influenced by food industry interests, which work counter-productive to your health needs. Read more about vegetarian nutrition data and discover for yourself.
Are vegetarian diets healthy? See in this video what new and long-term vegetarians are saying about it.
Watch Dr Milton Mills analyze why so many people are sick in this humorous video.
Watch the interview with Alicia Silverstone on the health benefits of adopting a vegan diet.
Do you want to reverse diabetes? Yes you can do that with 30 days of raw food. Find out more in this video.
The Components Of A Heart Healthy Diet
The subject of healthy diets has people all over the world divided with opinions and advice. For some, a heart healthy diet means lean meat and a daily glass of milk. When you look at current US government healthy eating guidelines, that is not even wrong, but unfortunately badly misguided. We now have more advanced studies and the latest evidence is showing that there is not much healthy in meat and milk.
The quest for getting enough protein, calcium, iron and vitamin B12 is no longer an excuse to hang on to the double MMs: Meat & Milk. I will take the liberty to rephrase these MMs into Malicious & Misleading, as with the little good in meat and milk comes a lot of bad if you are looking for a heart healthy diet. Let me explain what I mean:
- Heart attack, stroke, and cancer are the #1 killer diseases in the world. All three of them can be prevented with a balanced vegetarian, heart healthy diet.
- Heart attack, heart disease, and stroke are caused primarily by high cholesterol levels in the arteries and by high blood pressure. If you don't consume cholesterol and limit the saturated fat, you have a very minimal risk for heart disease or stroke. All animal foods have cholesterol including chicken, turkey, fish, dairy and eggs. In fact, the cholesterol in chicken and turkey is just about as high as in beef (between 85-100 mg).
- Fish is not that far behind with 75mg cholesterol in trout (3). Chicken is also not much lower in fat than beef, as is often believed: a piece of flank steak may have 56% fat of the overall calories, and a similar amount of chicken still has 51% fat, particularly in the wings or other darker meat. Even the leanest chicken breast without skin still has 23% fat, compared to almost any vegetarian meal with potatoes, vegetables, or beans, that would never count above 1-6% fat. Now you can decide what's a healthy diet plan..
- Plant foods have NO cholesterol and minimal saturated fat - they are your best guess for a heart healthy diet!
- Cancers of the breast, ovaries, prostate, colon, and pancreas (1) react to fats and hormones that only occur in animal foods, including dairy and egg products. Increased levels of breast cancer have been linked to higher levels of estrogens, which are produced by higher fat diets (3).
- In contrast, fiber helps with faster hormone absorption - and fiber only occurs in plant foods. If you consume less hormones and fat, it greatly limits your chance for the most common cancers. Plant foods are your best options for healthy diets.
Plant-based foods are naturally low in saturated fat, have no cholesterol, are high in fiber, and are full of vitamins, minerals, and cancer-fighting antioxidants. Vegetarian diets are the best healthy diets!
Find out how healthy vegetarian eating guidelines can prevent diseases or reverse existing illnesses.
Vegetarian Protein, Calcium, Iron, and Vitamin B12
Courtesy of The Beginner's Guide to Natural Living:
Are Vegetarian Diets Healthy?
You don't have to worry about insufficient protein in vegetarian diets. These healthy diets are chock full of all the nutrients your body needs, without the bad fat and cholesterol!
Take a look at our food nutrition chart and vital nutrients overview for more details on vegetarian nutrition.
Nearly all vegetables, legumes, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds contain protein - some a lot of it.
Our body needs essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins. You can eat a variety of the protein-rich plant foods to cover all bases of vegetarian diets.
The trick to healthy diets is to consume a well balanced diet based on unprocessed whole foods and with sufficient calorie intake.
As long as you mix and mingle your fruits, veggies, legumes, seeds, grains, and nuts, you will be in very good shape. As we've seen above, plant foods are also the best option for a heart healthy diet and to lower cholesterol, as these have mostly unsaturated fats and no cholesterol at all.
The usual suspect nutrients that draw questions in vegetarian diets are protein, calcium, iron, and vitamin B12. All but the latter can be obtained perfectly fine from plant foods. Vitamin B12 should be supplemented in a vegan diet. I personally use nutritional yeast as a great "parmesan cheese" replacement, as this has a good portion of vitamin B12 and goes well with most salads, pasta, and other main dishes. In addition I use a good multivitamin. See this detailed list of good plant sources for these nutrients.
Healthy Vegetarian Diets
The various vegetarian diets and types of vegetarians are summarized below. Not only do these vegetarian diet plans provide great nutrition and heart healthy whole foods, they can also lead to a long-term, healthy weight loss, which is gradual and easily sustainable.
Reasons to adopt a vegetarian diet can be Health, Environment, Animal Welfare, Religion, Spirituality, or World Hunger Relief. Many people have multiple reasons for adopting a more conscious, healthy vegetarian diet.
- Semi-vegetarian diets - also called flexitarians, follow a plant-based diet most of the time, but do occasionally eat small amounts of meat or fish.
- The macrobiotic diet can be considered a semi-vegetarian diet, as it allows seafood and fish. This diet avoids all processed and refined foods.
- The pescatarian diet includes fish, seafood, eggs, and milk products - but no meat. Note that the Vegetarian Society does not consider this a vegetarian diet (2).
- Lacto-ovo vegetarian diet - followers eat no meat or fish, but they do consume dairy products and eggs.
- Lacto vegetarian diet - followers consume milk products but no eggs, meat, or fish.
- Ovo vegetarian diet - these people consume eggs but no milk products, meat, or fish.
- Vegan diet - followers consume no animal products of any kind. The vegan diet is completely plant-based. Vegans also avoid the use of animal products for clothing or any other purpose.
- Raw vegan diet - people on this diet eat at least 75% of their diet in raw, natural, unprocessed, unrefined plant-based food that is not heated above 116 degrees F. The remainder of the raw vegan diet can be vegan cooked foods.
The Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian Diet
Overall the lacto-ovo vegetarian diet is a wonderful start to explore the bounty of delicious healthy diets with plant foods, and is usually the first step of a meat-eater into this direction. Good thing takes time, and if you only do one vegetarian diet day a week, it's great start. It's better to go slow and steady than too fast without the right information, or the confidence in doing the right thing!
Health: the lacto-ovo vegetarian diet is largely based on plant-foods and has all their healthful benefits. Due to the consumption of dairy and eggs however, this vegetarian diet still includes cholesterol, more saturated fat, and animal hormones. The risk for heart disease and cancer is lower than for meat-eaters, but not as low as with a pure plant-based, vegan diet.
Vegetarian weight loss can be a goal of this diet but it depends on what is eaten, as a high consumption of cheese and processed foods is a leading cause for obesity.
Many lacto-ovo vegetarians may see the transition from a vegetarian diet to a vegan diet as final goal, but may find it difficult to jump the last hurdle, as restaurants and cookouts with friends are often easier to attend if dairy is eaten. Good information and knowledge of the great vegan food options available will eventually help to overcome this concern.
Dr Milton Mills on why so many people are sick - watch this: very funny with a pungent message at the end!
Environment: this vegetarian diet supports the environment through avoiding meat, as corporate animal factory farms create almost 51% of US greenhouse gases. However, lacto-ovo vegetarians do still support the dairy farms and egg factories that largely contribute to global warming as well.
Animal welfare: the lacto-ovo vegetarian diet is a good starting point to battle animal cruelty in factory farms. However, cows suffer even longer in dairy farms than in meat farms, as their ordeal as dairy cows takes longer until they are considered spent and sent to slaughter.
Also, male calves have no use in the dairy industry and are immediately sent to veal farms for slaughter, where they live just a few weeks. Veal is really a by-product of the dairy industry, and you can say that there is a piece of veal in every glass of milk.
It is similar for chickens where egg-laying hens endure even more cruelty and longer misery than their fellow broilers on chicken farms. The male chicks born to egg-laying hens are immediately killed by either suffocation in big trash bags, or by being thrown alive into a chopper, from where they make their way to become food for other farm animals.
The Vegan Diet
Vegans are people who don't eat any animal products, which means no meat, no fish, no dairy, no eggs, no honey, etc. For most, veganism is not only a healthy diet, but a conscious lifestyle that embraces compassion towards all living beings. Vegans avoid using animal products and by-products for food, clothing, and all other aspects of life. They often oppose the use and exploitation of animals for food, fashion, sport, entertainment, science, etc.
Health: high five for the vegan diet, as vegans eat no animal products at all, which means no cholesterol, very little saturated fat, and no excess hormones. The heart healthy vegan diet virtually eliminates the most common causes for heart disease and stroke, as vegans’ average cholesterol level lies by 133. No heart attack has ever been recorded for cholesterol levels below 150 (meat-eaters are typically around 210).
Alicia Silverstone about the amazing Health Benefits of a Vegan Diet
People on the vegan diet also have a 40% lower risk for certain cancers and a much lower risk for diabetes. In addition, vegans usually have a lower weight and an increased immune system compared to meat-eaters (3).
Some people cite concerns with nutrient deficiency due to the "limitations" of a vegan diet, which cuts out all animal ingredients. This is unnecessary, as plant foods offer a multitude of all nutrients, including protein and calcium, as long as these are consumed in a balanced diet, focusing on a good variety of unprocessed whole foods.
The only supplement needed in a vegan diet is for vitamin B12, which does not occur in plant foods naturally and has to be added via fortified foods or tablets.
Environment: the vegan diet is excellent for fighting global warming, as it does not require animal farming of any sort, which is highly detrimental to the environment. Many vegans are also interested in sustainability and pursue an overall green and conscious lifestyle.
Animal welfare: very good, as living healthy without the need for farmed animals goes a very long way towards fighting animal cruelty and suffering in today's corporate factory farms.
The Raw Vegan Diet
Followers of the raw vegan diet eat at least 75% of their diet in unprocessed plant-based foods not heated above 116 degrees F. Temperatures above that destroy many food enzymes that assist with digestion. Cooking also zaps the life and nutrients out of many foods, and thus makes them less useful.
The raw vegan diet is often called "raw living foods diet", as the ingredients in the plants are left unaltered and natural. This is food in its purest form, and done right, it can be a very healthful diet.
The raw vegan diet also largely avoids toxins from caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, etc. It is considered a healthy diet with a total detox for the body and mind.
For first timers, raw vegan food can be surprising, as we are no longer used to the bold flavors and extreme tastes in our usual processed and gen-manipulated foods. With the raw vegan diet, you will find out how fruits and vegetables could (or should) taste if they are grown completely natural.
A potential drawback of the raw vegan diet is the rather time-consuming food preparation for the cutting, sprouting, dehydrating, etc., and a good deal of commitment is needed to do it right.
Health: as the raw vegan diet is fully plant-based with mostly organic unprocessed ingredients, it magnifies the health benefits of the vegan diet, since heart disease, cancer, and obesity can be avoided very well. As nothing refined is consumed, the raw vegan diet also avoids diseases like diabetes. Uncooked plant foods also provide access to nutrients that are destroyed by heating. Raw vegans have to supplement certain nutrients like vitamin B12 for a balanced healthy diet.
Natural Cure for Diabetes: Raw Vegan for 30 Days
The raw vegan diet can be a progression from a vegan diet, as it brings out the last bit of gunk from the body through a total detox process.
People on the raw vegan diet state that they experience increased energy levels and clearness of the mind. Injuries heal faster, and the skin, eyes, hair, etc. are glowing from the natural food intake.
Skeptics are concerned about the potential greater deficiencies of the raw vegan diet in calcium, iron, vitamin B12, protein, and calories.
Some nutrients can't be absorbed that well without cooking (i.e. phytochemicals in beta-carotene). Overall, a good deal of effort and time is needed to be healthy on a well balanced raw vegan diet, but it appears worth it for an increasing number of people.
Environment: the raw vegan diet is excellent for the environment like the vegan diet, as it avoids all animal products and their inherent polluting production for food and other purposes.
Animal welfare: as no animals are eaten or used in anyway, the raw vegan diet is a blessing for animals that are typically killed and abused by the billions in many industries every year.
The Macrobiotic Diet
Macrobiotic means as much as 'long life' in Greek. The idea is that simplicity is the recipe for good health. The macrobiotic diet and philosophy were created by George Ohsawa in Japan, and were later adapted by Michio Kushi, who opened the Kushi institute in Boston in 1978 and expanded on the original macrobiotical principles. Kushi also published books on the subject and made the diet popular across the globe.
The macrobiotic diet is mostly a vegetarian diet based on whole grains, vegetables, and phytoestrogens from soy products. This heart healthy diet focuses on mostly Asian and sea vegetables. It avoids all processed and refined foods.
People on the macrobiotic diet eat roughly 50-60% of their meals in whole grains from brown rice, whole wheat berries, barley, millet, etc. Pasta and bread can be eaten, and miso soup is a major part of the diet. Cooked or raw vegetables make about 30% of the diet, and the rest is consumed in beans, seeds, and fruits.
Fish and seafood can be consumed with horseradish, wasabi, or ginger, which are used to detoxify the body from the effects of the seafood, which is a major carrier of toxins such as mercury.
Health: the macrobiotic diet is low in dairy and sugar, and focuses on natural, unprocessed food sources that are ideal for a healthy diet. The use of natural grains, seeds, and vegetables makes it low-fat and high in fiber, which is good for fighting cancer and other diseases.
Critics state that the macrobiotic diet lacks nutrients such as protein, vitamin B12, iron, magnesium, and calcium. As always, it is important to find a good balance for a healthy diet, and the macrobiotic diet does offer plenty of options to prevent any deficiencies. Some consider this diet as restrictive, since it basically prescribes what quantities can be consumed of each food group.
Environment: as people on the macrobiotic diet consume mostly plant-based foods that are unprocessed and unrefined, it is good for the earth, as it avoids some destructive techniques from the agricultural industries.
The consumption of fish and seafood however, make this diet somewhat less sustainable, as all major oceans are severely overfished and many species are gravely endangered or only available through fish farms nowadays.
Animal welfare: macrobiotic diet followers consume little to no animal products, with the exception of fish and other sea creatures by some. As they prefer natural products and generally follow a green lifestyle, I would assume that they are conscious about animal welfare as well. Ideally, the sea life consumption should be avoided as well, as fish have the same nervous systems and pain receptors as other sentient animals, and suffer greatly when they pulled from the water and often just frozen alive.
The consumption of fish and seafood can add mercury and certain pollutants that have an adverse affect on health.
(1)Thiebaut ACM, Jia L, Silverman DT, etal. Dietary fatty acids and pancreatic cancer in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2009;101:1001-1011
(2)From "Criteria for Vegan food" by Vegan Society. http://www.vegansociety.com/Lifestyle-And-Nutrition/Food/Criteria-for-Vegan-Food.aspx