If you’re following a vegetarian diet, or are tempted to cut back on your meat-intake, make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need with our five tops tips on how to follow a healthy vegetarian diet.
1. Consider calcium
Calcium helps to build strong bones and teeth, a lack of it in your vegetarian diet could lead to conditions such as rickets in children or osteoporosis in later life.
Some vegetarians struggle to get enough calcium from milk products, so you need to eat lots of other calcium-fortified foods, such as, breakfast cereals, soymilk and orange juice for a healthy vegetarian diet.
2. Fill up on protein
Proteins break down into amino acids that promote cell growth and repair. They take longer for the body to digest than carbohydrates, helping you feel fuller for longer and on fewer calories. When switching to a vegetarian diet, many people worry that they will not get enough protein. Eating a wide range of protein-rich foods, fill out your meals with tempeh, tofu, beans and eggs. Be careful not to rely too much on cheese as this can add too much saturated fat to your diet.
3. Getting enough iron
Many people think vegetarians are at risk of having a diet low in iron because they don’t eat meat, but there are many other sources, including spinach, kidney beans, back-eyed peas, lentils, turnip greens, whole wheat breads, peas, dried apricot, prunes and raisins.
Iron carries oxygen in the blood, and iron deficiency can cause you to feel weak and tired, so it’s essential for vegetarians to ensure that they’re getting enough of it.
4. Eat seasonally
As a vegetarian, fruit and vegetables are a big part of your diet, so flavour and freshness is key. Fruits and vegetables in season are your new best friend!
Eating produce at the peak of their season is a great way to maximise the benefits from the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that it has to offer.
5. And don’t forget your Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is essential for growth, repair and general health and is naturally found in animal products. For vegetarians, if you’re regularly eating eggs or dairy products, you’ll probably find this is enough.
Good sources of vitamin B12 include milk, cheese, eggs and fortified breakfast cereals.
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