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Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Effects Of A Vegetarian Diet On Cholesterol

By Brandon Sharp

Vegetarians, in general, have healthier cholesterol levels than non-vegetarians so studies claim. Vegetarians eliminate most or in some cases all animal products so their diet consist of carbohydrates and fat. This is very interesting considering there are numerous studies that suggest high carbohydrate diets raise cholesterol levels instead of lowering them.

So what exactly is a vegetarian diet? There are different types of vegetarian diets; the kind of animal products the individual consumes is what differentiates them.

A vegetarian that eliminates all animal products including those found in processed foods are called Vegans.

The Lacto-ovo-vegetarian abstains from meat, fish or any animal flesh, but does enjoy eggs and other dairy products.

The Lacto-vegetarian enjoys dairy products but does not include animal flesh or eggs in their diet.

The Ovo-vegetarian does not eat animal flesh or dairy products, but does eat eggs.

A 2007 study that included 67 vegetarians found that as a whole, vegetarians have lower total cholesterol levels than the 134 meat consuming participants; 73% of the vegetarians involved in this study consumed eggs. According to the results of this study, 79% of the vegetarians had desirable total cholesterol levels. While 71% of the meat consuming participants had borderline high risk total cholesterol levels; only 3% of the vegetarians had borderline high risk cholesterol levels. Vegans had significantly lower cholesterol levels than vegetarians who ate egg or non-meat animal products.

For the most part, studies show that in general vegetarians have lower total cholesterol levels than those who consume meat products; so let's look at the vegetarian diets. Fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy substitutes, beans and nuts are the usual fare for vegetarians. As you can see, there are plenty of carbohydates in the vegetarian diet. So somehow vegetarians manage to keep their cholesterol levels within a healthy range while still consuming a large amount of carbohydrates. It all comes down to the type of carbohydrates they consume.

Good carbs, bad carbs who cares, what it comes down to, is common sense. A vegetarian diet rich in fried foods, white flour pastries and processed foods will be detrimental not only to your cholesterol but your total health. Most vegetarians enjoy high quality carbohyrates such as lots of fresh vegetabls, fruits, herbs, beans, whole grains and nuts. These foods are full of vitamins, minerals, phytochemical and filling, colon cleansing fiber.

The health benefits of a nutritious vegetarian diet includes:

1. Low cholesterol and low fat protein sources. 2. Vitamins C and E, folate, magnesium and fiber. 3. More phytochemicals due to eating more plant foods. 4. Decreases risk of high cholesterol, heart disease, hypertension, some cancers and type 2 diabetes. 5. Can help you lose weight. 6. Improve your energy. 7. Healthier skin.

And so much more!

It can be difficult to switch from a meat eating diet to a vegetarian diet, but the change can be made gradually. If your diet consist mostly of meat or animal products, why not start by replacing one meal a week with a vegetarian meal? Then slowly add one vegetarian meal everyday. Once you get used to vegetarian meals it will become easier for you to eliminate animal products for a whole day. If cutting meat out of your meals all together is something that you just can't do, try having smaller servings of meat products and increasing the amounts of fresh produce, whole grains and nuts in your meals?

Give it a try; you just may be surprised at how delicious a vegetarian diet can be. Don't focus on what you can't have, focus on all the delicious foods you can enjoy. Chances are that if you have high cholesterol, your physician may have already suggested moving to a more vegetarian eating plan.

Listen to your doctor, follow through and happy eating.

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