The vegetarian diet in recent years has become a very popular style of nutrition. An increasing number of people are deciding to stop consumption of meat for ideological, health or taste reasons. However, the change of diet should be made in a conscious way to be safe and healthy for the body.
A properly balanced vegetarian diet according to the position of the American Dietetic Association and the Polish Ministry of Health is completely safe for health, meets the nutritional needs at every stage of human life and can provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are suitable for people at all stages of life, including pregnancy and lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence and for athletes.
It should be emphasized that this applies only to rationally balanced diets, in which the knowledge of the person allows the selection of products to avoid shortages in the range of macro- and micro-nutrients.
Protein – the most controversial component of a vegetarian diet
Particularly controversial is the supply of protein in the vegetarian diet and its shortages. Let’s take a closer look at the question of the supply of this ingredient in the meatless diet and the controversy it triggers.
Proteins are made of amino acids. In order for our body to function properly, it must be provided with all 20 amino acids 8 exogenous, which the body can not synthesize and must be delivered in a ready form with food, and 12 endogenous, which our body can synthesize from other amino acids, supplied with consumed products. Therefore, among the proteins we will distinguish these nutritious ones, i.e. containing all exogenous amino acids. Wholesome proteins are those contained in products of animal origin, meat, dairy products, eggs, etc.
According to research, their source may also be algae, such as spirulina, chlorella or cereal products such as quinoa or amaranth.
White deficient ones are those that do not contain a full set of essential amino acids.
The products that are their source include legumes, nuts, cereals other than those mentioned previously. Therefore, in order to provide the body with all the necessary ingredients, the products should be selected so that they complement each other in terms of the amino acids contained in them and finally provide all the necessary for the health of our body.
According to the guidelines of the Institute of Food and Nutrition, protein should provide 10-15% of energy during the day, which on average corresponds to the amount 0.8-1 g / kg body weight per day. In athletes, the supply of protein should be higher and adjusted to the body parameters, type of cultivated discipline, intensity and amount of training and any diseases.
Protein intake in vegetarians is often inadequate and can lead to deficiency in the body. This is often due to the lower absorption of vegetable proteins or improper processing of the raw material before consumption to increase its digestibility. The shortages are lower in people using the lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet than in other types of diets, eg in the vegan diet.
– 1 cup boiled legumes such as peas, beans, lentils, chickpeas, soybeans;
– 1.5 glasses of cooked cereal, including buckwheat, millet, barley, whole grain rice;
– 3 glasses of boiled vegetables, including half of the cabbage family;
– 1 plate of vegetable soup;
– 2.5 glasses of raw vegetables, including half a glass of green leafy vegetables, e.g. spinach, chard and basil.
In addition, in the daily food ration it is advisable to include products no more than
– 600 g of fresh fruit, instead of 1 portion of fruit, you can eat a small handful of dried fruit;
– 3 tablespoons, approx. 45 g of nuts (cashew, Italian, hazel) or seeds eg pumpkin, sunflower or almonds;
– 1 tablespoon of flaxseed, ground and cold-pressed, eg for salads or sandwiches;
– ½ cup of dry whole-grain flakes, eg oat, rye, spelled, or alternatively 2 slices of whole-grain bread;
Do not forget about the supply of iodised salt in the amount of about 0.5 teaspoon or on the interchangeable use of marine algae (wakame, dulse, arame, nori) in the amount of 1-3 g.
The supply of the above ingredients should be increased proportionally with the increase in the calorie content of our diet.
According to the American Dietetic Association, proteins that are complementary to each other do not have to be consumed within one meal, and throughout the day. In addition, it is not necessary to deliberately combine different products containing complementary proteins, which facilitates the use of a vegetarian diet.
However, if you have doubts whether you provide all the essential amino acids to your body, consult a dietitian to help you balance your diet.