A study published in The JAMA Network Journals last year says that eating a vegetarian diet can help lower blood pressure. A year earlier, a report in the same journal had said vegetarian diets help reduce the risk of several chronic diseases, including hypertension, metabolic syndrome, diabetes mellitus and ischaemic heart disease. A growing body of scientific evidence indicates that wholesome vegetarian diets offer distinct advantages.
So if one of your resolutions for this year is to give up meat and turn vegetarian (even partly), the good news is that your health will gain from this decision. And if you are worried about your body not getting adequate protein on a meatless diet, fret not. “On an average, women need about 45g and men about 65g of protein daily. The trick is to zero in on good vegetarian protein sources and incorporate them on a daily basis. Ensure that the quality of protein you take is good and try to get it from a variety of plant sources,” says Loveneet Batra, clinical nutritionist, Fortis La Femme, New Delhi.
Consumption of plant rather than animal proteins can, in fact, contribute to reduced risk of obesity and chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. “In comparison to protein foods of animal origin, most plant-protein sources are lower in saturated fat, free of cholesterol, higher in fibre, and a good source of antioxidants and phytochemicals. All this helps contribute to better health and reduced disease risk,” says Niti Desai, consultant nutritionist, Cumbala Hills Hospital and Heart Institute, Mumbai.
Protein is essential for almost every bodily function. Its deficiency can lead to loss of muscle mass. The immune system too can take a hit, leading to increased susceptibility to infections.
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