October 1 is observed as World Vegetarian Day, to raise awareness about the importance of environmental, health and humanitarian benefits of following vegetarian food habits.
Established by the American Society of Vegetarians in the year 1977 and later authorized by the International Vegetarian Union in 1978 to lay emphasis on compassion, improved quality of life among vegetarians, preserving environment and animal lives, this movement slowly picked up pace in the later years.
India has more number of vegetarians, with about two-thirds of the global vegetarian population living in our country. A recent study attributed greater IQ levels in children to following vegetarian diet.
However, a vegetarian diet may be deficient in certain vital nutrients like protein, iron, zinc, omega fatty acids, vitamins B12 and D as these nutrients are chiefly obtained from animal sources.
Vegetarians can plan a balanced and nutritious diet by adding these five superfoods in their regular diet regimen.
Protein is a vital nutrient required by the body to repair and build tissues. It is valued as a building block of bones, skin, muscles and blood. Plant protein like lentils, legumes and pulses are a must to have protein foods in the daily diet which assist in leading a healthy life. A serving or one cup of cooked legume offers you 18-20 grams of protein and it is high on fibre without any fat or cholesterol. Also Read: Try These Protein-Packed Desi Breakfast Ideas
Milk And Milk Products
Calcium is an important mineral that is required by the body to maintain and build bones. The heart, muscles and nerves also need adequate amounts of calcium to function well. Adding a spectrum of milk and milk products in a vegetarian diet plan would help to meet this demand. Good sources include low-fat milk, curd, yoghurt and cheese and moreover these foods are also a source of complete protein too.
Whole grains are amazing natural produce loaded with essential nutrients like vitamin B, iron, calcium, zinc and also fortified with vitamin B12 (which is found only in animal products). The ample amounts of insoluble dietary fibre in whole grain cereals like brown rice, wheat and millets controls blood sugar, lowers cholesterol, reduces the risk of gut problems and cancer.
Green Leafy Vegetables
Green veggies like spinach, moringa leaves, broccoli, kale and collards offer umpteen amounts of iron, folic acids, antioxidants and vitamin A for enhancing the overall health of vegetarians. These superfoods also promote gut health, good vision, bolsters skin health and triggers the immune system.
Nuts are one of the best sources of protein for vegetarians. A serving of nuts (25 grams) taken as a healthy snack provides you with 10-15 grams of protein. In addition, nuts are power-packed with heart-healthy fatty acids, fibre, iron, calcium, magnesium for boosting mood, improving memory and promoting weight loss. Also Read: Fistful Of Almonds Is All You Need
A well-balanced diet with the addition of these superfoods would facilitate vegetarians to meet all the essential nutrients, lead a healthier lifestyle without any nutritional deficiencies.