Vegetarian Diet And Cholesterol

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 vegetarian that doesn’t consume meat, fish or animal flesh of any kind but does include eggs and other dairy products in their diet is called a Lacto-Ovo vegetarian.

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

The vegetarian that includes eggs in their diet but eliminates all animal flesh and dairy products is an Ovo-vegetarian.

A study conducted involving 67 vegetarians of various types and 134 meat eating participants showed that vegetarians had a significantly lower insident of borderline high cholesterol than their meat eating counterparts. Of the vegetarian participants 73% had desirable total cholesterol levels, while 71% of the participants who consumed meat had borderline high risk total cholesterol. Only 3% of the vegetarians had borderline high cholesterol.

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.

I’m not going to get into this ‘good’ carbs vs ‘bad’ carbs debate, but I am going to tell you that obviously quality counts. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains provide high quality carbohydrates, filling fiber, vitamins and phytochemicals. If you get your carbohydrate fix from white flour products like: donuts, cookies, white or enriched breads and crackers, potato chips, French fries then you are defeating the purpose of eating a vegetarian diet to improve health. Those types of foods are processed, fried and filled with low quality carbohydrates and in some case fat and cholesterol.

The health benefits of a nutritious vegetarian diet includes:

1. A diet high in vitamin rich foods. 2. Decrease your risk of high cholesterol, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. 3. Maintaining a healthy weight. 4. Less fat, cholesterol and trans fat in your diet. 5. More fresh fruits and vegetables supplying us with more phytochemicals. 6. More fiber in your diet. 7. Healthy hair, skin and nails.

And on and on!

I know going from consuming meat to a vegetarian life style can be difficult, no one is saying to make a radical change. How about having just one vegetarian day a week for starters? Then once you begin to see how easy and tasty vegetarianism really is how about adding a few more vegetarian days to the week. At the very least, you may want to try to add more clean fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains to you diet and decrease the amount of meat eaten at each meal.

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.

Don’t focust on what you can’t have, open yourself to the delicious rainbow of foods you can enjoy without meat products.

High cholesterol often leads to diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. The easy way to fight this disease is through diet modification. Learn how to enjoy a vegetarian diet to lower cholesterol.

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