Plant-based diets: healthy vegetables or “junk”

Plant-based diets refer to plant-based diets and include vegetarian and vegan diets.

Whereas vegan diets exclude all animal products, vegetarian options – which exclude only meat and fish – are more diverse and may include dairy products and eggs. Pescatarian diets exclude meat, but not fish.

Plant-based diets continue to grow in popularity around the world thanks to decades of scientific research and the increase evidence of their potential health benefits, not limited to improving blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

In addition, increased awareness of the environmental impact of livestock farming, such as high levels of greenhouse gases, land degradation and excess water, has also motivated some people to adopt plant-based diets, which may be more environmentally friendly.

However, there are some health risks associated with some plant-based diets, especially if there is a high intake of “junk” vegetarian foods.

By definition, ultra-processed foods are food products that contain a minimum of whole foods, are rich in caloriesadded sugar, salt and fat, offer little nutritional value and have been processed with cheap industrial additives.

By using the NOVA classification system, which categorizes food products according to the extent of the industrial processes they undergo, “junk food” can to understand many herbal products, such as:

  • commercially produced breads, pastries, cakes and biscuits
  • fizzy drinks
  • prepackaged snacks
  • flavored milk drinks
  • breakfast cereals
  • Energy bars
  • instant sauces, soups, pot noodles and desserts.

Ultra-processed foods are convenient, continue to replace minimally processed whole foods, and now represent more than half of the daily caloric intake of many people in middle- and high-income countries.

Although a healthy, balanced plant-based diet is diverse, frequent consumption of ultra-processed plant-based foods is associated with negative health outcomes.

For example, in a 2019 cohort study who followed 105,159 adults over a period of 5 years, the researchers observed that even a 10% increase in the consumption of ultra-processed foods was associated with a higher risk of heart disease and stroke.

This small increase in ultra-processed foods is also associated with a higher risk of developing certain cancer, Type 2 diabetesand increased exposure to harmful substances chemical products from food parcels.

Additionally, caloric intake is said to be higher in plant-based diets high in ultra-processed foods, which can lead to weight gain and greater development potential obesity.

To compound the negative health risks associated with diets high in ultra-processed foods, vegetarian and vegan diets can exclude food groups, making nutrient deficiencies more common.

Overall, some studies have shown that vegetarians and vegans have lower levels nutrients like iron, vitamin B12limestone, Vitamin Dand Omega 3 fatty acids.

Additionally, a study 2022 showed that vegetarian women have an increased risk and occurrence of hip broken bones compared to women who occasionally consume meat.

These side effects may be related the omission of meats rich in iron and vitamin B12 and animal sources rich in calcium in vegetarian and vegan diets. These problems can be compounded by people not replacing these nutrient sources with fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes and eating ultra-processed foods instead.

Well-planned vegetarian or vegan diets consistently provide several health benefits, and they may protect against nutrient deficiencies and adverse health risks associated with diets high in ultra-processed plant-based foods.

Not only do plant-based diets promote longevitybut they can reduce muscle loss – also called sarcopenia — in obese elderly people.

They are also safe during pregnancy and lactation as long as they meet nutritional requirements, as well as during physical performance.

Nutritionally balanced, well-planned plant-based diets more closely adhere to US dietary guidelines and improve overall power quality based on the Healthy Eating Index.

This happens through the increased intake of:

  • fruits
  • non-starchy vegetables
  • whole grains
  • low fat dairy products
  • eggs
  • vegetable protein
  • Seafood.

These diets also contain less salt, added sugar, fat and calories.

Therefore, not all plant-based diets are associated with negative health risks, but it is important to note that following an overall healthy diet is essential to managing the risks of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Here are some practical tips to help you maintain a diversified and balanced plant-based diet.

First, limit ultra-processed foods. Ultra-processed, plant-based foods high in salt, added sugars, and fats should be limited and eaten in moderation.

In particular, vegetarian meat alternatives are often high in sodium and saturated fat, so be sure to choose alternatives that are lower in sodium and fat..

Be sure to read nutrition labels and be careful with so-called health claims on packaging. Practice reading the nutrition labels of packaged food products for their sugar, salt and fat content and choose those with fewer additives. Likewise, labels can help choose foods high in calcium and other beneficial nutrients.

Surveillance carbohydrates Servings are also important: Switching to a plant-based diet can feel restrictive, and research shows that meats can be replaced with high-carb, refined or highly processed foods. Be sure to include whole-grain carbohydrate options in portions that fit your health goals.

Focus also on proteins: Peas and beans, nuts, seeds, seitan, textured vegetable proteins, tofu, tempeh, Edamameeggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, and seafood are all high-protein food sources for vegetarians that also provide calcium, iron, vitamin D, and some vitamin B12, which are generally deficient in vegetarians.

Where appropriate, dietary supplements can help a person achieve the desired amount of daily nutrients to avoid deficiencies. Talk to your medical team about which supplements might be right for you.

Finally, you may want to consult a dietitian: If you’re new to plant-based eating, consult a registered dietitian to find out which foods will help you meet your nutrient needs.

Plant-based diets are popular around the world for their potential health benefits, such as improving blood cholesterol, blood sugar, and reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity. .

However, “junk” vegetarian foods or ultra-processed foods – which make up more than half of some people’s daily calorie intake – continue to replace minimally processed whole foods and pose health risks.

Additionally, vegetarians and vegans may experience nutritional deficiencies in iron, calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12, due to the exclusion of animal foods rich in these nutrients.

Nevertheless, well-planned vegetarian or vegan diets rich in fruits, non-starchy vegetables, whole grains, dairy products, and plant-based sources of protein provide several health benefits and protect against the health risks associated with dieting. rich in “junk” vegetarian foods.

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