Plant-based Diets


—Notes on plant-based diets and vegetarianism from my Nutrition, Health and Lifestyle online coursera class.

Plant-based Diets:

—  Emphasis on “whole” plant foods

—  Whole foods are foods that are as close to their “natural” state as possible

—  Vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, seeds, legumes…

—  Minimally processed or refined foods

—  Minimal additives and preservatives

—  Exclude or minimal intake of animal foods



—  2012 Gallup survey:

—  5% of US adults report following a vegetarian diet

—  2% Vegan

—  Worldwide, hundreds of millions of people are vegetarians

—  Vegetarians, including vegans, with careful planning, can meet recommended intake for all nutrients

—  Fortified foods and/or supplementation may aid in meeting recommended intakes

Reasons for Vegetarianism:

—  Health benefits

—  Environmental concerns

—  Ethical concerns

—  Animal rights and advocacy

—  Cultural and religious reasons

—  Lack of availability or affordability of animal products

How Often Do Americans Eat Vegetarian Meals?

—  7% One meal per week

—  7% One day per week

—  15% Many of your meals, but less than half the time

—  14% More than half your meals, but not all the time

—  4% Always (Vegetarian including vegans. Never eat meat, fish, or poultry)

—  3% Always (Vegetarian not including vegans. Never eat meat, fish, or poultry.)

—  1% Always (Vegans. Never eat meat, fish, poultry, dairy, or eggs)

—  47% Estimated population who eats vegetarian meals at least once per week

Vegetarian Dietary Patterns:

—  Vegan – A food plan consisting only of plant foods

—  Lacto-vegetarian – A food plan consisting of plant foods plus dairy products

—  Lacto-ovo vegetarian – A food plan consisting of plant foods plus dairy products and eggs

—  Quasi-vegetarian (pescetarian) – exclude beef, pork, and poultry, include fish, eggs, dairy products and plant foods

—  “Far”-vegetarian – excludes red meat- those who eat a mostly vegetarian diet, but occasionally eat meat

—  Flexitarian (or semi-vegetarian)


Raw Food Diets:

—  Basically an uncooked, vegan diet with focus on benefits of  “plant enzymes”

—  Actually, enzymes are inactivated by digestion

—  Associated with impaired growth in children, lower HDL cholesterol, vitamin B12 deficiency, loss of bone minerals

—  Low body weight for height; healthy blood levels of triglycerides and total cholesterol


Vegetarian diets characteristically are…

—  ↓ saturated fat and cholesterol

—  ↑ dietary fiber

—  ↑ vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and soy

—  ↑ potassium, magnesium, folate

—  ↑ vitamin C and E

—  ↑ antioxidants and phytochemicals

—  ↑ nutrient density

—  ↓ glycemic effect


Potential Benefits of Vegetarianism…

—  Lower Body Mass Index (BMI)

—  Lower blood cholesterol and LDL levels

—  Lower blood pressure

—  Lower risk of chronic disease including:

—  obesity

—  heart disease

—  stroke

—  hypertension

—  type 2 diabetes

—  some types of cancer

—  chronic bronchitis

—  gallstones

—  kidney stones


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