If you are under the notion that being a staunch meat-eater gives you an advantage over vegans and vegetarians because they don’t get all the nutrients that you do, think again. While some nutrients may be abundant in a non-vegetarian diet, there are others that vegetarians and vegans consume in surplus. So, if you are OK with mixing diets, you may want to switch your food habits to include healthy plant-based foods to get optimum amounts of certain important nutrients.
1. Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA)
While we typically get our omega-3s like eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) from cold water fish and maybe even fish oil supplements, ALA is found mostly in plant sources like chia, flax and hemp seeds. Consuming these foods every day might help regulate the levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the body.
Our bodies need zinc for maintaining good immunity, support growth in children and for quick healing of wounds but unfortunately, the body cannot store large amounts of zinc. This means that we should constantly provide our body with zinc and this can be done by including foods like legumes and grains.
While dairy is one of the best sources of calcium, vegans and those who are lactose intolerant may need other sources like broccoli, kale, black beans and almonds.
Even though the iron we get from meats is easily digestible, it has often been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes. The iron from plant-based foods like quinoa, spinach, legumes and broccoli may not have that risk.
5. Vitamin C
Vitamin C provides antioxidant benefits, improves immunity and helps the body fight the common cold and other conditions. While it may be present in traces in animal products, our main sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits like grapefruits and limes, peppers, tomatoes, berries and squash.
Fiber is essential for healthy digestion and a reduced risk of heart diseases, high cholesterol and colon cancer. There are different types of dietary fibers that our body needs and we can get them only from foods like oat bran, wheat, rice, apples, bananas, flax seeds, onions and legumes.
Found in almost all plant-based foods, flavonoids are antioxidants that support cellular health. They may also support heart, brain and colon health and can be found in cranberries, apples, pears, apricots, green tea, lemons and blackberries.
Many people doubt if their vegetarian or vegan diets will give them enough protein for muscle and overall health. The truth is that plant-based foods are good sources of protein, you just need to know which to pick. Nuts, seeds, legumes, soy, peas and spinach are some options.
S. (2017, October 27). Meet All Your Nutritional Needs with a Plant-Based Diet. Retrieved from https://www.downtoearth.org/articles/health-tips/10861/meet-all-your-nutritional-needs-plant-based-diet
10 Nutrients That You Can’t Get From Animal Foods. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-nutrients-you-cant-get-from-animal-foods#section3