Best Health Food Tips for Vegetarians and Meat-Eaters
By Nina Syahira
April 3, 2014
Good food and plenty of exercise can lead to a healthier you. Previously, we have shared with you the different types of brain food you should remember and when the right times to eat for the best fulfilled energy boost are. So while you find the time for gym training or a simple run in the park, don’t forget to also grab a meal or snack.
But is there such a thing as eating too much meat? Or is a plant-based diet the only way to go?
As we all know, food is an integral part in keeping ourselves both physically and mentally healthy. Our body needs the various nutrients in order to function optimally and something as simple as breathing would require the right type of food.
Photo sourced from stylonica.com
Our body craves for the proper nutrients which can be found in the different food groups like fruits, vegetables and legumes, grains, lean meat and poultry, fish and dairy products. But someone who is a strict vegetarian or vegan is not necessarily at a disadvantage compared to someone who also eats meat.
Whether it’s for health or lifestyle reasons, it’s perfectly fine to choose which diet you prefer but get educated and know what you are consuming (or not, for that matter). A diet is only a bad one if it doesn’t give you enough nutrients that your body needs and it is entirely up to you to include them in your everyday meals or not.
Clearly, there would be differences between a vegetarian and a meat-eater when it comes to their diet and even exercise regimen. It has been said that it’s better for vegetarians to go for short but intense workouts. This can help prevent muscle mass loss as well as the body from relying on protein to last through the workouts.
For meat-eaters, plan each meal to be two-thirds plant-based; fruits, vegetables, beans or grains. Ideally, the rest of it should be made up of the leanest cuts of meat. Refrain from frying when cooking them to prevent loss of nutrients and cut down the consumption of processed meat to a minimum as they are high in sodium.
We now take a look at both sides of the coin and present to you the best food tips that include both types of diet.
A bowl of brown and white rice (left), a quinoa dish (right) and black rice (bottom)
Photos sourced from jessicashealthblog.com, cookinglight.com and thehealthyapron.com
1. Rice and its alternatives
White rice is a local food staple. Despite contrary beliefs, it’s not the sole reason for obesity but rather the food that it’s served with and how it’s processed. The natural unpolished rice is healthy and contains protein. It is a good source of amino acids for muscle building and carbohydrates for overall body function. Due to the fact that it’s low in fibre, it is easily digested thus a go-to home remedy for relieving diarrhoea and morning sickness.
However, brown rice is a better option as it only has its outermost hull of the grain removed, leaving plenty of nutrients available for consumption. Unlike white rice, brown rice is an excellent source of dietary fibre for a healthy colon. It keeps our bones strong as well as maintaining healthy levels of blood sugar and proper blood circulation.
An even greater and possibly least known choice would be black rice which turns purple when cooked. It contains the same colour pigment you can find in blackberries, blueberries and cherries called anthocyanin.
This is a natural anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory that can help lower cholesterol and prevent chronic diseases like diabetes. Besides that, it is also high in fibre and iron. Like the white and brown, black rice goes well with most forms of proteins like fish and beans.
But if you’re looking for a perfect alternative to rice, quinoa is recommended. Not only does it have the same benefits as rice, it also contains all nine essential amino acids and has almost twice as much fibre as most other grains. It has lots of vitamins like B2 that promotes blood vessel expansion in the brain thus reducing the chances of migraine headaches. Its low fat content is mostly made up of omega-3 fatty acid which is great for those hoping to lose some weight.
Photos sourced from buzzle.com and goeatgive.com
2. Soy products
Instead of dairy products, try soy. It has almost as much protein, less fat, no cholesterol and is a good source of calcium. It is a popular choice for vegans as well or anyone searching for an alternative of dairy.
Examples of soy products in a vegetarian or vegan diet include tofu and tempeh. Unlike most low-fat soy milk and burgers, there is significantly less processing done to produce tempeh which makes it closer to soy in its whole food form. Its fermented nature also increases the digestibility of soy and nutrient absorption from soy.
Photo sourced from tipnut.com
The benefits of eating eggs include getting minerals like zinc and phosphorus and vitamins like A and B2 that are important for growth and E which fight off free radicals that can cause tissue and cellular damage leading to cancer, encouraging weight loss, low-calorie protein and may even help prevent breast cancer. Be sure to eat whole eggs as the yolk contains calcium and iron while the whites contain almost half of the protein.
Photo sourced from goodhousekeeping.com
4. Starchy vegetables
Potatoes are a great substitute for rice and are rich in complex carbohydrates which can help reduce overeating due to slow release into the bloodstream. They also contain kukoamines that lower blood pressure and flavonoids that reduce the risk of heart disease.
In comparison to regular ones, sweet potatoes are slightly healthier as they have a higher level of potassium content. Both offer dietary fibre that helps to feel full after a meal as well vitamin A for better vision, immune system and skin. It is recommended to consume them with a source of fat for vitamin A absorption, making it healthy fat.
Photo sourced from neptunya.fr
For mental focus and stamina, kombucha is a great health tonic that is rich in B vitamins and probiotic bacteria. It is a naturally carbonated fermented tea, resulting in a tiny percentage of alcohol content. It can also help relieve arthritis and joint pain.
Photo sourced from abcnewsradioonline.com
This plant is consumed to promote a sense of well-being and stamina and improve both mental and physical performance. It can also help to control blood glucose levels and blood pressure, reducing stress levels. It comes in various forms like capsules, powder and teas.
Photo sourced from fromnaturewithlove.com
Nuts such as almonds and cashews are heart-healthy and delicious. They contain unsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, vitamin E, plant sterols and l-arginine. Instead of dairy products, vegans can use nut butter in their cooking and baking.
Photo sourced from thescienceofeating.com
8. Fruits and Vegetables
Listen to your elders when they say, “Eat more fruits and greens!” This is a wonderful source of fibre, vitamins and minerals. They are low in calories but they also make you feel full after consumption, keeping your weight in control. In addition, they contain antioxidants that help prevent diseases.
Include dark leafy vegetables like spinach and broccoli as they are good sources of calcium. This is great news for vegans!
Photo sourced from fishtocurediabetes.org
This food reduces blood clotting and the risks of stroke and heart failure due to its omega-3 fatty acid content. For kids, fish can even improve learning ability. It is recommended to eat fish at least two servings a week.
Photo sourced from stupideasypaleo.com
10. Grass-fed meat
Meat is the best source of protein. Red meat like beef contains iron, vitamin B, riboflavin, thiamin and niacin which are essential for optimal body performance. However they have high saturated fat content and can increase cholesterol level. Opt for grass-fed meat for a healthier meal as it has more omega-3 fatty acids.
With this list, you’ll find that it is possible to get fully nutritious meals through either of these diets. If you’re still unsure, do consider supplements like those that provide with iron especially for vegetarians. Be sure to vary your meals no matter which diet you follow for better chances at sticking to them and having a healthier lifestyle.