Pros and Cons of Vegetarian Diet

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Pros and cons of vegetarian diet
Vegetarian diets are based on cereals, whole grains, pulses, nuts, vegetables and fruits. Lacto-ovo-vegetarians do not consume any meat, poultry or fish but include eggs and dairy products in their diets. Vegans do not consume any food obtained from animals. Other vegetarian diets include fruitarians and macrobiotic diets that are more restricted. Reference to vegetarian diets usually implies lacto-ovo-vegetarians. A number of reasons can be attributed to preference for a vegetarian diet such as religious belief, economic status, personal health issues, environmental and ecological concerns. Vegetarian diets are typically higher in fiber, vitamin C and folate while lower in saturated fat and cholesterol. As can be expected a number of health benefits are attributed to vegetarian diet. Population studies have shown an inverse relation between vegetarian diet practices and incidence of cancer, cardiovascular disease and total mortality1. A number of epidemiological studies have demonstrated the low incidence of obesity, hypertension (high blood pressure) heart diseases, diabetes, cancer etc in vegetarians as compared to meat eaters. People who consume fish and other sea food also demonstrate some advantages of vegetarian diets. 2A 24% decrease in incidence of Ischemic heart disease (IHD) was found among vegetarians as compared to non- vegetarians. Plant foods, which are a good source of fiber, lower cholesterol levels, both low density lipoprotein (LDL) and total cholesterol levels. Lower rates of colon, prostate cancer and breast cancer are also observed in vegetarians. Phytochemicals are excellent anti-oxidants which act by metabolizing carcinogens in the body and lowering the incidence of cancer. Some other phytochemicals such as lignin and phytoestrogens in soy lower the incidence of hormone dependant cancers, such as prostate and breast cancer. This can explain the lower incidence of breast cancer in Asian women who consume soy

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