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Feb 02

Going Vegetarian? Do It Right!

More people in their 50s and 60s are going vegetarian.

I'm not sure what started their journey but I suspect it was related to losing weight and improving their digestive process. Once they started to lose weight and were no longer constipated, they just kept going in the same direction.

The good news is that a plant based diet can be simple, healthy and satisfying. But you need to know how to do it correctly.

Being a vegetarian highlights all the foots that the U.S. dietary guidelines say we should be eating regularly such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and other legumes. A diet that's high in fiber usually contains fewer calories than the average meal with meat or fried chicken. As a result, most vegetarians weigh less than nonvegetarians.

You can become a vegetarian at any age if you know what you're doing. You can leave out the meat in your diet but you need to include the following:

Protein. Sources include eggs, dairy and soy products, lentils, nuts, whole grains. Meatless products such as soy burgers and tofu dos are good sources of protein (if they don't contain too much salt.) If you eat eggs, cheese and other dairy products use low fat varieties. If you avoid cow's milk, drink fortified soy milk or rice milk.

Calcium. Sources include low-fat dairy foods, dark green vegetables, and tofu enriched with calcium.

Vitamin B-12. This vitamin is found only in animal products including milk, eggs and cheese. Vegans who eat only plant-based foods and no dairy or eggs can get B-12 from some enriched cereals fortified soy products and by taking supplements.

Iron. Lentils, peas and dried beans, enriched cereals, whole grain products, dark leafy green vegetables, and baked potatoes are good sources of iron.

Vitamin C. Sources include strawberries, citrus fruits and baked potatoes.

Zinc. Sources in whole grains, soy products, nuts, legumes

For those of you who occasionally eat meat and other animal products, this is a good outline for you to follow also.

Studies show that vegetarians following a well-balanced low-fat high fiber diet often have lower incidence of coronary artery disease, hypertension, obesity and some forms of cancer.

There are not many diets that can give you all these benefits!

To your successful aging.

Ruthan Brodsky

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