It’s a common misconception to think that being vegetarian or vegan is a healthy road to take in one’s lifetime, but it is not always the case. It is possible to be vegetarian and unhealthy at the same time, depending on the food that you choose to include into your daily diet. Eliminating meats from your diet opens doors to certain deficiencies in nourishment that could later lead to other health problems. Here are some of them:
(Image above via vegetariandietplan.net)
LOWER CHOLESTEROL LEVELS
Good news, right? Think again. Studies have shown that individuals with a continuously low level of cholesterol is associated with earlier deaths. So yes, there is such thing as having too low cholesterol levels than healthy, and vegetarians as well as vegans tend to experience them. Foods that can maintain (good) cholesterol levels include unsalted nuts, grapefruit, and regular consumption of cranberry juice.
A lot of vegetarians and vegans tend to make a habit of snacking on chips, fries, cookies and other junk food because they have much less option of foods to fill up on. All these foods will only help load up the pounds, as they don’t last long in the tummy and will leave you with a case of the munchies. If you’re a herbivore, try snacking on longer lasting foods like carrot slices and celery sticks. You can dip them in some low calorie salad dressing to make them tastier.
LOWER BONE MINERAL DENSITY
Although access to nourishing foods such as calcium, protein and Vitamin D is technically not really affected by adapting a meat-free lifestyle, vegetarians and vegans have been tested to have an average of 5% lower bone mineral density than meat eaters. However, this is a small matter as researchers claim that this percentage is clinically insignificant.
INCREASE IN BLOOD PRESSURE
To replace the lost protein source, some vegetarians and vegans turn to foods such as canned mixed beans and salted nuts. These foods tend to be high in sodium, which can raise the blood pressure of an individual. Make sure you check out the sodium levels of the foods that you purchase, and get a regular blood pressure check-up with your doc.
INSUFFICIENT OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS
Unless you’re pescetarian (vegetarians who eat fish as a source of protein only), chances are you’re lacking in Omega-3 fatty acids according to research. These fatty acids have many health benefits, such as a reduced risk of heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and Asthma among many other side benefits. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, take a tablespoon of flaxseeds regularly, and again, make a healthy snack of unsalted nuts. This should keep your Omega-3 levels up.