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A diet free from meat and fish can be a good move, you need to make sure you are still eating key nutrients, so we have some tips on how to be a healthy, happy vegetarian.
Protein is needed for body growth and repair, and good vegetarian options include pulses, nuts, seeds, eggs, dairy products, tofu and Quorn.
Starchy carbohydrates are great energy sources, and you can find these in wholegrains, such as wholemeal bread, brown pasta, buckwheat, bulgur, and oats.
Unsaturated fats are another energy source and you also need them for building cell membranes, brain function, and for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K). Olive and flaxseed oils are one source, together with nuts, seeds, and of course super tasty, very versatile avocado.
We all need iron for healthy red blood cells and to carry oxygen around our bodies, and is key for children, teenagers and women. Low iron levels can lead to anaemia so try to include egg yolks, pulses, dried fruit, green leafy vegetables, and fortified breakfast cereals in your daily diet.
Zinc is brilliant at supporting your immune system and for reproductive health. Go for seeds, pumpkin ones are good, nuts, green leafy vegetables, pulses and wholegrains, you can get your fix.
You really need Vitamin B12 as a vegetarian as it helps your metabolism and can prevent B12 anaemia. Eggs and dairy products, yeast extract, fortified soya milk and breakfast cereals are all ideas to consider.
Omega-3 fatty acids are the healthy fats that lower levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol and thus reduce your risks of heart disease and strokes. We tend to get this nutrient from fish, but vegetarians can get them from seeds (especially flaxseeds), or vegetarian supplements, so ask your GP or health food shop staff about the options.
So, how do these fit into your diet? Each day aim to get:
At least five servings of fruit and vegetables, but go for more if you can and aim for a bright, vibrant mix.
Three to four servings of starchy carbohydrates
Two to three servings of protein, such as pulses, nuts and seeds and, the same with dairy, plus a little oil or butter.
At least one type of food fortified with vitamin B12, such as yeast extract or cereal.
Do the same as above with Omega 3, or take a supplement.
Go for a balanced diet full of variety. Some of us fall into the habit of eating the same foods day in and day out, but you need to eat a variety of foods to avoid missing out on vital nutrients. Really embrace fruit and vegetables, eat them raw, blend in smoothies and add spices and lentils to make tasty, filling dinners.
Bread and pasta are good sources of starchy carbohydrates, but they can fill you up before you get all of the other nutrients you need.
Cheese is full of protein and calcium, but it’s also high in fat and salt, so just watch how much you eat.
Convenience foods might say they are ‘suitable for vegetarians’, but they can still be high in fat, salt, sugar and additives, so eat in moderation. The same goes with fast food and take-aways.
Being a vegetarian can be great for your health, heart and waistline, as well as the environment, so enjoy the adventure and find the foods that make you happy.
Team Pure Beauty