A vegetarian diet is usually made up of fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, pulses, nuts and seeds. Some vegetarians also prefer adding dairy products to the mix, where probiotic yogurt and paneer (cottage cheese) could be used as a healthy protein substitute for vegetarians. A wholesome vegetarian diet is flush with essential nutrients that keeps vegetarians away from several lifestyle diseases.
However, there are a lot of myths circling around vegetarian diets:
Myth#1: Vegetarian diets are weak on protein.
Fact: It’s true that meat and poultry have higher protein content, but pulses, beans and grains act as good sources of fibre and protein substitute for vegetarians. This is a healthier option since plant-based protein smoothens your digestive system and is also good for the heart. A generous serve of protein rich foods like pulses, legumes or dairy like paneer or curd in each meal helps balancing the protein intake requirement.
Myth#2: Losing weight comes easily with switching to a vegetarian diet
Fact: While wholesome vegetarian diets may aid you in weight management, it depends a lot on what counts as ‘vegetarian food’ according to you, to be a part of your diet. Fried potato wedges, while being vegetarian, are only going to load you up on carbs and saturated fats. There are several benefits of a vegetarian diet, but adopting a healthy lifestyle which includes exercise and a balanced diet is also necessary.
Myth#3: Vegetarian diets will not keep you full.
Fact:Vegetables, pulses and beans are high on dietary fibre, which make you feel sated for a longer time, while leading to the absorption of nutrients and proper digestion. Improvement in gut health and control of blood sugar levels can also be seen as advantages of a vegetarian diet.
Myth#4: No way you can strengthen your bones on a vegetarian diet.
Fact: It is a myth that bone health can be improved only by consuming meat and dairy. Vegetarian ingredients – like spinach, methi, mustard greens, arbi, broccoli, ragi, sesame seeds – have a good amount of calcium and vitamin, citrus fruits are loaded on Vitamin C and mushrooms are a good source of Vitamin D. These nutrients help in fortifying your bones, and could be included in your diet.
Myth#5: Vegetarian food isn’t as delicious as non-vegetarian food.
Fact: It is all about how you excite your tastebuds using the right amount and type of herbs and spices, salt, sugar and other condiments which impart an appealing sense of flavour to your food. Delicious is when you tend to get those cooking methods right – be it vegetarian or non-vegetarian food.
For vegetarians, a good way to stock up on those nutrients is dals and beans, such as Tata Sampann Pulses, which maintain high nutritional value in its unpolished form.
- The effects of plant-based diets on the body and the brain: a systematic review [NCBI]
- Dietary Protein and Amino Acids in Vegetarian Diets—A Review [NCBI]
- Effect of different cooking methods on the content of vitamins and true retention in selected vegetables [NCBI]
- Greater Intake of Fruit and Vegetables Is Associated with Greater Bone Mineral Density and Lower Osteoporosis Risk in Middle-Aged and Elderly Adults [NCBI]
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