A new study conducted by conducted by Monica Bertoia of Harvard T. H. Chan School…
On World Vegetarian Day, a cross-section of experts list the six benefits of keeping your plate full with those fruits and veggies
Vegetarian food, a lot like medicine, has been burdened with tags like `boring’ and `unpalatable’. However, medical studies have consistently proved that vegetarian food comes with enormous health benefits. So on World Vegetarian Day, which is celebrated today, an Ayurvedic doctor, a dietician and a yoga trainer list the pros of going veg.
Experts believe that meat (especially red) takes approximately 72 hours to digest. On the other hand, a healthy vegetarian meal takes only two hours. Therefore, the body can conserve the energy and divert or use it to heal and strengthen the body from within. “Although much of this depends on an individual’s digestive makeup, a vegetarian diet, in comparison, is easily absorbable as it gets metabolised properly,” says senior Ayurvedic consultant, Dr Niranjan Patel.
PREVENTS CHRONIC DISEASES
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables also provides vitamins and minerals which play a great role in the prevention of chronic diseases.
Registered dietician Sukhada Bhatte-Paralkar specialises in diabetes care. She shares, “Whole grain cereals, pulses, millets, fruits and vegetables are a good source of fibre. They help improve gut health which, in turn, prevents and aids in treating hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.” Besides, the fibre in a vegetarian diet adds bulk to the stool. A healthy gut always leaves a person feeling fresh and energetic.
HELPS LOWER BODY WEIGHT
According to the website Medical News Today, people who follow a healthy vegetarian diet have a lower body weight. In fact, one study conducted by Cancer Research UK, which looked at 22,000 meat and fish eaters, vegetarians and vegans, found that those who continue eating meat gain more weight over a five-year period, compared to those who switch to vegetarianism.
KEEPS PRESSURE IN CHECK
Studies have also shown that those who follow vegetarian diets typically have a lower blood pressure. Medical experts reckon it is probably because cutting out meat and added fats reduces the blood’s viscosity (or thickness) which, in turn, brings down blood pressure. “Plant products are generally lower in fat and sodium. They have no cholesterol at all. Certain fruits and veggies are rich in potassium, which help lower blood pressure,” adds Bhatte-Palekar.
SHORES UP YOUR HEALTH
Vegetarian diets are also a rich source of active constituents such as phytochemicals and carotenoids which have various health benefits,” says Bhatte-Paralkar. Disease fighting phytochemicals such as carotenoids and anthocyanins give fruits and vegetables their rich, varied hues. The fruits and vegetables come in two main classes of active components: carotenoids and anthocyanins. Fruits and vegetables that are yellow or orange in colour, like carrots, oranges, sweet potatoes, mangoes, pumpkins, owe their colour to carotenoids. Green leafy vegetables are also rich in carotenoids. Red, blue and purple fruits and vegetables like plums, cherries, aubergines, red bell peppers, contain anthocyanins.
You are what you eat. The types of food we choose to eat reflect the level of our conscious development.Food is said to be the creator of prana (life force) that aids in sustaining our bodies and brings us vitality and health. Yoga recommends a pure (ethical) vegetarian diet. Ayurveda classifies food not as proteins or carbohydrates and so on, but according to its effect on the body and mind. It classifies food based on three qualities or gunas that govern human life -sattva, rajas and tamas. While Tamasic food leads to lethargy or sluggishness, Rajasic food makes one active or restlessness and Sattvic food, comprising a health vegetarian fare, promotes lightness, energy and positivity.
If you are at an early stage of vegetarianism, you will notice a significant shift in your mood and emotions. “And if you’re a yoga practitioner, you’ll experience a general sense of lightness when moving on the mat,” continues Arsiwala. “In yoga, we strive to find union and connectedness with the `source’ and it starts with a sense of connectedness to your environment and the planet. As a yoga practitioner, one tries to be in union with all things. This also applies to the food you eat.”