Similar to any healthy diet, the key to a healthy vegetarian diet is VARIETY.
Variety in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and dairy will provide the necessary nutrients for your body. Because a vegetarian diet excludes meat products, vegetarian diets must be well-planned to provide key nutrients.
Muscles and organs in the body are composed of protein. Adequate dietary protein helps the body feel fuller longer and maintains the body’s muscle. A varied diet, adequate in calories, will provide enough protein to meet the body’s demands.
Good Sources Include: eggs, tofu, nuts, nut butters, seeds, beans, lentils, and low fat dairy products such as yogurt, cottage cheese, and milk.
Iron assists red blood cells in carrying oxygen throughout the body. Inadequate iron can lead to anemia and weakness. Eating an iron rich food with Vitamin C (in citrus fruits) will help the body absorb iron.
Good Sources Include: dried beans, soybeans, spinach, bulgur, prune juice, dried fruit, and iron fortified breads and cereals.
Zinc is necessary for a healthy immune system and assists in many cellular reactions throughout the body.
Good Sources Include: whole grains, legumes, nuts, tofu, fortified breakfast cereals, and low fat cheese.
Calcium is important for strong bones. Inadequate calcium over time can lead to brittle bones and osteoporosis.
Good Sources include: low fat dairy products, fortified juices and cereals, tofu prepared with calcium, fortified soy milk and yogurt, collard greens, broccoli, and kale.
Vitamin D helps the body absorb Calcium to promote strong bones.
Good Sources Include: fortified soy milk, fatty fish (like salmon), and sunshine.
Promotes normal growth and development, and assists in red blood cell production.
Good Sources Include: eggs, dairy products, and fortified cereals.