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EL HOSPITAL / Press

10/12/2016 | Diario EL PAÍS 10.12.16

How to carry out a healthy vegetarian diet?

A vegetarian diet is based on the consumption preferably of vegetable foods, fruits, cereals and derivatives, tubercles as well as legumes, seeds and dried fruits, among others.
Within this wide range of dietary practices, depending on the food or food group that are excluded, different types of vegetarian diet can be distinguished. There is the strict Vegetarian or vegan diet, the Milk-vegetarian diet, the Egg-vegetarian, the vegetarian egg-dairy diet, and the Semi-vegetarian, that is in which meat is occasionally consumed. The point in common between all of them is the more or less strict restriction of animal food origin.
To get a healthy diet, the Graduate Alejandra Amestoy, Head of the British Hospital Nutrition and Diet Therapy Department, offers a series of suggestions to bear in mind.
To begin with, it is important to pay attention to foods selection (quality), variety, the combination of the different groups and the quantity or size of the selected portion. There are other aspects that have also influenced in food behavior, such as meal times, fractionation, time spent on food, the pace of life and rest periods.

It is recommended to organize food shopping, to plan menus, and to have simple and practical recipes.

Nutrients

To avoid iron deficiencies it is necessary to include in the diet iron-rich vegetarian food (such as lentils, beans, watercress, chickpeas, spinach and wheat flour or cereals fortified with it) and favor their absorption by combining them with foods rich in vitamin C, with vegetables such as broccoli and tomatoes and citrus fruits.
Concerning proteins, it does occur to be enough variety of food in which the needs can be met. As the digestibility of some vegetable proteins is lower than those of animal origin, if food such as dairy and eggs are not included, it is important to include proteins, such as soy protein and protein supplementation.
By combining foods, for instance cereals with legumes, the biological quality of proteins is complemented. Those people who do not consume dairy products should consider calcium intake.
Its bioavailability in vegetable food origin is variable and the increase of some substances present in these diets (oxalic acid and phytates) can contribute to decrease its absorption in the intestine. Therefore, it is recommended to compensate the consumption of foods such as soy milk, nuts, legumes, spinach, cereals fortified with calcium and the use of supplements if necessary.
In relation to Zinc, some sources of plant origin are dried fruits, legumes and wheat germ. And when evaluating the contribution Omega 3 fatty acid, it is recommended the incorporation of soybean, flax seeds, nuts and canola oil.
Regarding vitamin B12, as it is found only in foods of animal origin, vegans are at risk of developing deficiency. That is why they must obtain it from the regular use of fortified foods or supplements of this vitamin. In addition, in relation to vitamin D, which is limited in nature, it is possible to consume fortified foods, mainly dairy products.
The key is to maintain variety and combination of foods. In any case, specialized advice is recommended in order to "elaborate" a diet that meets nutritional requirements.

Sab 10_12_16-Página 2-General.pdf
Sab 10_12_16-Página 2-General.pdf