Vegetarian cooking becomes more and more popular, be it for health reasons, religious or ethical reasons. Vegetarians rarely suffer from diseases like overweight and heart attacks, so this kind of diet does seem to have a positive impact on our health. But which one?
There are actually three reasons why vegetarian cooking is so healthy:
- the high amount of fruit, vegetables and grains
- the lower fat consumption
- the domination of healthier fats
Reason #1: High amount of fruit, vegetables and grains
The main foods of the vegetarian diet are vegetables, grains and fruit. These are foods that are packed with nutrients whilst containing rather few calories. It’s not easy to eat too much of these food groups, since their high fiber content makes you feel full sooner. They also keep you filled for longer, especially whole grain products. That’s the reason why these three food groups are recommended to be the main food groups of every kind of diet – and since vegetarians need to make up for the missing meat, they eat more of these healthy foods than meat eaters.
Another big bonus is that because of eating more fruit and vegetables than meat eaters vegetarians also consume more vitamins which strengthen their immune system, and more fiber which helps the digestive system to work smoothly at all times.
Reason #2: Lower fat consumption
Since meat, one of the main fat providing food groups, is off the agenda in vegetarian cooking, vegetarians consume less fat in general (especially less animal fats) than people who eat meat and meat products on a daily basis – provided that dairy products and eggs are consumed in moderation as the healthy food pyramid recommends, and that fat is added to the food only sparingly. Vegetables are often prepared with less fat than meat, or even without any added fat. Cooking, stewing and oven-baking are very popular methods to prepare vegetables with a minimum of fat.
Reason #3: Domination of healthier fats
Since vegetarians consume less animal fats than meat eaters, they consume less of the unhealthy saturated fat that causes the building up of a blockage of the arteries, resulting in heart attacks or strokes. Vegetable fats are mainly unsaturated, and this kind of fat is much healthier for our body. Especially olive oil reduces the harmful cholesterol level and raises the good cholesterol level. For this reason, a vegetarian diet can be a good option for people with high cholesterol problems, since high cholesterol is mainly caused by saturated fat.
These are only three ways how your health could benefit from a vegetarian diet. Vegetarian cooking can boost your immune system, lower your cholesterol, and if you use fat sparingly it’s certainly a great option if you want to lose weight. A vegetarian diet, adding only little fat to foods and using low-fat dairy products, would give you the chance to eat meal portions that really fill you instead of depriving you of certain food groups and making you starve on tiny portions.
If you want to enjoy the health benefits of a vegetarian diet but you also love your meat, then you can even try a “mixed” diet: For example, have five vegetarian and two meat days in the week. It’s not about a diet or cooking concept, it’s all about the way of eating that works best for you!