A Vegetarian diet is a key to a healthier and disease-free lifestyle

A World Vegetarian Day Initiative.

Helps reduce systolic blood pressure by 5mmHg, which in turn may decrease the blood pressure and the risk of developing heart diseases by 21 percent.

Akin to the saying, being close to nature has always helped man, is the fact that a vegetarian diet is key to a healthy lifestyle. Nowadays, people are increasingly being drawn to vegetarianism; some because they believe in the ‘eat healthy, live longer’ motto and others because they wish to reduce the ever-increasing environmental pollution. More and more people are becoming aware of how an estimated 70 percent of major diseases, including one-third of all cancers, are related to their diet. A vegetarian diet is inherently healthy and proven to reduce the risk of developing degenerative lifestyle diseases like coronary heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes as well as prostate, breast, stomach, lung and esophageal cancer. There are a variety of features that make vegetarian diets preferable. The first one being the amount of dietary fiber it contains that positively affects a person’s blood pressure levels. Vegetarians, in general, have lower blood pressure levels and a lower incidence of hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases. This is because a typical vegetarian diet contains high levels of potassium, complex carbohydrates, polyunsaturated fats, fiber, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C and vitamin A, all of which may have a favorable influence on blood pressure. Another reason is its low-calorie content that helps to keep obesity under check. The low levels of cholesterol and fat in a vegetarian diet also help reduce the risks of hypertension.

Speaking on the issue, Padma Shri Awardees, Dr A Marthanda Pillai National President, Indian Medical Association & Dr K K Aggarwal Honorary Secretary General IMA and President HCFI said, “Vegetarian diets help in preventing, treating and managing heart disease. The low-fat and cholesterol quality of a vegetarian meal significantly lower and eliminate the chances of developing coronary heart disease factors such as hypertension, diabetes, and obesity. Low glycemic foods like high-fiber whole grains and legumes shield your heart as they can be digested easily, and they keep blood sugar levels stable and steady as well. The soluble fiber-rich diet helps reduce cholesterol levels. Eating ample fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains is key to maintaining necessary energy levels of the body and a healthy heart.“

Studies show that a plant-based diet can significantly decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes when compared to the individuals who consume non-vegetarian diet. The Harvard-based Women’s Health Study found a similar correlation between eating red meat (especially processed meats, such as bacon and hot dogs) and an increased diabetes risk, after evaluating BMI, total calorie intake, and exercise. The inherently healthy vegetarian meals are rich in oxidant-rich produce and fibers unlike meat meals, which are processed for consumption. These processed and high-calorie meals end up making us fat and inactive. A vegetarian meal will suffice only when it is well planned. If you are a vegetarian or have been thinking of adopting a healthy vegetarian diet, you should know what you should eat. Your vegetarian platter should be apt in proportion and variety so, that you get the desired health and lifestyle benefits from it.

An ideal diet comprises of
1. One fruit-only meal
2. One meal that has a mix of besan products, fruits, salads and a portion of mix vegetables
3. The third meal should be a regular meal comprising of two mixed grain chapattis/brown rice with vegetables and dal
4. In between meals, one can consume fruits, salads, black tea/coffee and dark chocolates without added sugar or milk