Green Light for Vegetarian Diet

Diet associations endorse the health benefits

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MONDAY, June 9, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- A well-planned vegetarian diet can be a healthy alternative for people of all ages.

That endorsement comes courtesy of a joint statement from the American Dietetic Association (ADA) and Dietitians of Canada that appears in the June issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

The statement cites numerous health benefits of a vegetarian diet, such as lower intakes of saturated fat and cholesterol and higher intakes of carbohydrates, fiber, magnesium, potassium, folate and antioxidants such as vitamins C and E.

An estimated 4 percent of Canadian adults and 3 percent of American adults follow vegetarian diets and interest in them is on the rise, the statement says. Many restaurants and caterers offer vegetarian meals, and there's been a substantial increase in the sales of vegetarian foods in recent years.

"Vegetarians have been reported to have healthier body weight than non-vegetarians, as well as lower rates of death from heart disease, lower blood cholesterol levels and lower rates of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and prostate and colon cancer," ADA spokeswoman Cynthia Sass says in a news release.

Planning a vegetarian diet doesn't need to be complicated, but it should be nutrient-dense. The key to ensuring the body receives all its nutritional needs is to eat a wide variety of foods, Sass says.

The best way to do that is to get advice from a nutrition expert.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about vegetarian eating.

SOURCE: American Dietetic Association, news release, June 3, 2003

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