Myths and truths about vegetarianism

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vegetarianism fruits and veggies

Dietary advices can be confusing and worrying. We want to eat healthy, but what is the best way?

It has long been known that eating fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes reduces the risk of certain diseases, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

As vegetarian meals become more and more popular, more and more people are wondering about the effects that switching on this type of diet can have. Below are the three most common myths about vegetarianism and a truth.

1. You can’t get enough protein with a plant-based diet

Myth. This is, by far, the most common myth. Many worry, “Where will I get my protein?” or “Do I need to combine foods to get enough protein?” For the average person, the recommended daily protein intake is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. This is possible when following a plant-based diet. There are many plant foods that are rich sources of protein, such as lentils, beans, whole grains, soy, mushrooms, rice, corn, etc. Even people who need more protein because they exercise can successfully increase their intake by eating plant foods. . A variety of starches that are eaten during the day, supply all the essential amino acids. The American Dietetic Association agrees that well-designed diets that restrict or exclude animal products are healthy and nutritionally adequate [1].

2. A plant-based diet provides smaller amounts of certain nutrients

Truth. Plants are the most nutrient-rich foods we can eat. For example, leafy greens and legumes are rich in calcium, iron and zinc, berries are extremely high in vitamin K and manganese and tropical fruits such as mangoes and pineapples are high in vitamin C. However, the they should take B12 supplements as this vitamin is not present in plants – in fact it is present in minimal amounts in the peel of certain fruits and is produced by bacteria but leaves by washing. Also, a vegetarian diet, which does not contain dairy products and fish, offers lower intake of calcium, vitamin D, omega 3 fatty acids and iodine. With regard to vitamin B12, its deficiency can cause irreversible nerve damage.

3. Plant nutrition is not suitable for endurance athletes

Myth. The body is based on complex carbohydrates – found in vegetables, grains, legumes, fruits and nuts – to move. There is a higher amount of complex carbohydrates in a plant-based diet. So it is no coincidence that carbohydrates have always been the basis of road athletes.

Recently, a study looked at 56 athletes, half of whom were vegan for two years and the other half who followed a omnivorous diet. The tests looked at their durability, measuring how long athletes could work at 70% of their maximum strength before stopping. It was found that vegan athletes had better VO2Max (maximum oxygen uptake) and could work harder before reaching exhaustion. They had a VO2 max of 44.5 versus 41.6 ml / kg / min and a sub-maximum endurance time of 12.2 minutes versus 8.8 minutes.

4. You will be hungry with a plant-based diet

Myth. Many are skeptical about switching to a plant-based diet for fear of feeling full. Because plants are low in calories, they do not seem to be satisfactory for hunger. However, this should not worry you as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes are high in fiber.

It is noteworthy that a study conducted by researchers at the University of California and published in 2017, showed that replacing a portion of meat with mushrooms not only reduced calories, saturated fat and salt by adding vitamin D and antioxidants – one of the few plant foods that contains vitamin D- but was rated by participants as having more fullness [4]. The researchers concluded that mushrooms are more filling than meat.

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References

  1. Position of the American Dietetic Association: Vegetarian Diets.
  2. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Health Implications of Dietary Fiber.
  3. Is a vegan diet detrimental to endurance and muscle strength?
  4. Impact of Agaricus bisporus mushroom consumption on satiety and food intake.
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