Since flexitarians remove certain foods from their diets, they will have to conscientiously include foods that will provide the same nutrients found in animal products.
Flexitarian diets can be healthy and may even lower the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity but you haveconscientiously include foods that will provide the same nutrients found in animal products. By eating a variety of foods — including fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, soy products and whole grains — flexitarians can successfully obtain the right nutrients, especially protein, iron, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids.
Carbohydrates provide energy and vitamins for your brain and muscles. Look for a variety of whole grains such as wholegrain bread, pasta and tortillas, brown rice, oats, bulghur and quinoa. Fruits and vegetables also contain fibre-rich carbohydrates.
Fat is essential as it helps your body absorb vitamins, promotes cell growth and gives you energy. Monosaturated fats (such as avocados, nuts and oils) and polyunsaturated fats (omega-3 fatty acids) are good sources of healthy fats.
Protein is needed for your muscles to grow and repair. Flexitarians need to be sure to include plenty of protein-rich foods in their diets when reducing their meat or fish intake. Nuts, nut butters, soy foods, legumes, meat substitutes, dairy foods and eggs all provide protein.
Get these nutrients from the following dishes:
- Spaghetti with spinach and asparagus pesto
- Brioche smoked salmon eggs Benedict
- Quinoa tabbouleh with Feta
- Samosa salad
Zinc is important for your immune system, wound healing and cell repair. Zinc is found in whole grains , fortified cereals, dairy products, seeds and legumes.
Iron is an important component of hemoglobin, the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to transport it throughout the body. When you are eating plant-based foods, try to maximise the amount of iron you can absorb by including foods rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits and tomatoes.
Calcium is needed to build strong bones. Calcium is found in dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and cheese, but can also be found in broccoli, butternut squash, black beans, cannellini beans, soybeans and tofu. If you choose to not eat dairy, eating calcium-fortified foods is a great way to ensure you are eating enough calcium.
Vitamin D is needed to absorb the calcium you eat and promote bone growth. You can get vitamin D from foods such as fortified dairy or soy milk products, fortified orange juice or egg yolks, or your body can make vitamin D from the sun. If you live at a latitude as far north as Ireland, it’s necessary for you to ensure you get your daily intake of vitamin D through food or supplements.
Vitamin B12 is needed for your brain and nervous system to function. Vitamin B12 is produced by bacteria or in the bodies of certain animals, which means it is only found in animal foods. Look for foods such as breakfast cereals, soy milks or veggie burgers.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids; “essential” means you need to obtain these fats from your diet. Those who don’t eat eggs or fatty fish like salmon must include other sources of omega-3s in their diets; look for options such as walnuts, flaxseeds, or soybeans.
Iodine is a mineral your body needs to make thyroid hormones, which control your metabolism. Iodine is often found in sea vegetables and seafood. One easy fix is to use iodised salt in recipes that call for salt.
Plus, we’ve listed all the vegetarian food every flexitarian should alwayshave in their shopping cart.
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