Critical Analysis of the Health Benefits of Vegetarian, Vegan, and Vegetarian Raw Meals

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Vegan foods

There are many types of diets that people follow for various reasons. Some people choose to follow a raw food diet, which consists of only eating raw fruits, vegetables, and grains. Others may choose to follow a vegan diet, which excludes all animal products, or a vegetarian diet, which excludes meat but allows for the consumption of dairy and eggs. Each person has their own reasons for choosing the diet they do, whether it be for health, ethical, or environmental reasons.

Exclusion diets

Vegetarian, vegan and raw meal diets tend to either eliminate certain products or certain ways of preparing foods (such as in a raw diet). Such diets have their benefits, but also their drawbacks. The role of this essay is to analyse the health benefits of example vegetarian, vegan and vegetarian raw meals. According to Healthline(1), vegan diets bring many benefits, such as being richer in certain nutrients (fibre, potassium, antioxidants, magnesium, folate, A, C & E vitamins), can help lose excess weight, lower blood sugar levels, improve kidney function, protect against certain types of cancer, is linked to lower risk of heart disease and can reduce the pain from arthritis. Rush Stories report(2) that the vegan diet also has similar health benefits, but also their drawbacks, that is it’s harder to supply enough vitamin B12, essential fatty acids, iron and vitamin D from food, which can be a problem during the winter (human skin can produce vitamin D itself while exposed to sunlight.

Vegetarian diet

Health benefits of an example vegetarian meal

Scrambled eggs in olive oil with beans and avocado:

  • Eggs(3) are rich in selenium, vitamin B2, raise HDL levels, contain choline and antioxidants (lutein and zeaxanthin)
  • Olive oil(4) is linked to reduced inflammation, blood sugar, triglycerides which lowers the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, obesity and diabetes
  • Beans(5) contain lots of fibre, protein, lower LDL cholesterol, help control high blood sugar levels and are a great source of iron

Vegan diet

Health benefits of an example vegan meal

Tofu with spinach and quinoa:

  • Tofu(6) may offer relief to certain symptoms of menopause, lower LDL cholesterol, is a source of protein, may enhance kidney function and may help reduce bone loss in patients suffering from osteoporosis as it contains soy isoflavones that are linked to reduced bone loss and increased bone mineral density, especially after menopause
  • Spinach(7) contains calcium that supports bone health, magnesium that is required for proper metabolism functions, regulates the heart rhythm and maintains blood pressure, iron that aids erythrocytes in carrying oxygen to muscles and brain, is said to prevent cancer, reduce blood sugar and is healthy for the eyes
  • Quinoa(8) is high in manganese, magnesium and phosphorus, contains high-quality protein, quercetin and kaempferol that are classified as extremely healthy trace nutrients and belong to the group of flavonoids, is high in fibre and gluten-free, therefore perfect for people suffering from celiac disease and has a low glycemic index, which aids in blood sugar control

Raw diet

Health benefits of for example raw vegetarian meal

Soaked flax seeds with coconut milk and berries:

  • Flax seeds(9) are high in protein and healthy fats (particularly in omega-3 fatty acid ALA which has anti-inflammatory properties and is an essential nutrient), protein, lignans (that may reduce the risk of cancer), dietary fibre and can help improve cholesterol levels, lower blood sugar levels and improve blood pressure
  • Coconut milk(10) contains antioxidants that protect the body from cellular damage, is rich in electrolytes, contains lauric acid that assists the body in fighting various infections caused by fungi, viruses and bacteria, has anti-inflammatory properties and promotes gastrointestinal health due to its zinc content, which helps to renew the intestine walls
  • Berries (11) are high in antioxidants, can improve insulin sensitivity and improve blood sugar levels, are high in vitamin C, manganese and vitamin K1, have anti-inflammatory properties, may help to lower cholesterol levels and have cancer-protective properties

It can be seen that vegetarian, vegan and raw vegetarian meals have indeed healthy properties and can improve one’s health. Such foods, when properly prepared can protect against cancer, and oxidative damage, promote healthy ageing, boost the immune system, improve insulin sensitivity, can help control blood sugar levels and have many other health benefits. However, it is important to note, that as NHS states(12) vegans and vegetarians may be at risk of iron, calcium, vitamin B12 and vitamin D deficiency, therefore it is important they compose their meals in a way that allows them to deliver all the essential nutrients and to do that certain knowledge is required.

References:

  1. Healthline, 6 Science-Based Health Benefits of Eating Vegan, accessed on 10/05/21, available at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vegan-diet-benefits
  2. Rush Stories, Health Benefits of a Vegan Diet, accessed on 10/05/21, available at: https://www.rush.edu/news/health-benefits-vegan-diet
  3. Healthline, Top 10 Health Benefits of Eating Eggs, accessed on 10/05/21, available at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-health-benefits-of-eggs
  4. Medical News Today, What are the health benefits of olive oil?, accessed on 10/05/21, available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266258
  5. WebMD, Why Beans Are Good for Your Health, accessed on 10/05/21, available at: https://www.webmd.com/diet/ss/slideshow-why-beans-are-good-for-health
  6. MedicalNewsToday, Everything you need to know about tofu, accessed on 10/05/21, available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/278340
  7. Ashish Roy, 15 Reasons Why Spinach is Called a Superfood, accessed on 10/05/21, available at: https://www.medlife.com/blog/15-reasons-why-spinach-called-superfood/
  8. Kris Gunnars (2018), 11 Proven Health Benefits of Quinoa, accessed on 10/05/21, available at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-benefits-of-quinoa
  9. Verena Tan(2017), Top 10 Health Benefits of Flax Seeds, accessed on 10/05/21, available at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-flaxseeds
  10. Lasting Health Solutions, 9 amazing benefits of coconut milk, accessed on 10/05/21, available at: https://www.ballerinichiropractic.com/9-amazing-benefits-coconut-milk/
  11. Franziska Spritzler(2019), 11 Reasons Why Berries Are Among the Healthiest Foods on Earth, accessed on 10/05/21, available at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-reasons-to-eat-berries
  12. NHS, Vegetarian and vegan diets Q&A, accessed on 10/05/21, available at: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/vegetarian-and-vegan-diets-q-and-a

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