Find Out Why This Doctor Says Being a Part-Time Vegetarian Will Keep You Healthy

Find Out Why This Doctor Says Being a Part-Time Vegetarian Will Keep You Healthy

Some of our experts are vegetarians. Some eat dairy, eggs, and often fish, but not meat or poultry. Others are vegan and eat no animal products at all. Any of these styles of eating can be healthy, but they aren’t necessarily guaranteed to be. (I know vegetarians who don’t like vegetables!) Combine a diet based mostly on plant foods with enough healthy fats and low-GI foods, though, and you have a perfect recipe for health.

The Doctors’ Diet is not a vegetarian diet, but it’s close to one. The advantage of including the occasional small (4- to 6-ounce) serving of meat or poultry in your diet is that it makes it easier to get the protein you need to build and sustain lean muscle mass. At the same time, though, cutting back is beneficial. One of the most comprehensive studies to date, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, tracked more than 37,000 adults and found that simply eating one vegetarian meal a day could lower your risk of dying from cancer or heart disease by as much as 20 percent. Most people find that having the option of eating a little meat makes a diet more palatable, and if you eliminate animal products completely, it’s tough to get enough omega-3s, vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, and iron without relying on supplements. The Doctors’ Diet is both satisfying and nutrient rich, making it easy to stick with for life.

When it comes to beef, pork, and poultry, many of our experts stress that they opt for organic or grass-fed and finished varieties. Not only do these meats tend to come from farms where the animals are treated humanely, the farms themselves are better for the environment than industrial farms, and the meat that comes from these animals is healthier than the alternative. Organic, grass-fed and finished beef contains 60 percent more omega-3s, 200 percent more vitamin E, and two to three times more conjugated linoleic acids (CLA), all of which help ward off heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. As an added bonus, certified-organic cows are raised without added hormones or routine antibiotics, and the grass or grain they eat cannot contain pesticides, chemical fertilizers, or genetically modified organisms. These meats are pricey, but because you’ll be eating less of them on this diet, you’ll probably save money in the end.

The one type of meat you should cut out completely, if you can, is processed meat — that includes most deli meats, bacon, and hot dogs. The combination of sodium, saturated fat, and preservatives (called nitrates) they contain raise your risk of heart disease and cancer. A BLT, pastrami sandwich, or hot dog at the ballpark a few times a year is fine, but don’t make processed meat regular weekly fare.

Excerpted with permission from What Doctors Eat: Tips, Recipes, and the Ultimate Eating Plan for Lasting Weight Loss and Perfect Health by Tasneem Bhatia, MD, and the Editors of Prevention.

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Note: PLEASE consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or medications. The material on this site is provided for educational purposes only, and is not to be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.