Vegetarian and Vegan Diet (cont.)
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What are the benefits of a vegetarian and vegan diet?
The health benefits of a vegetarian diet are the number-one reason why people choose to follow this way of eating. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans support the benefit of a vegetarian diet: "Most Americans of all ages eat fewer than the recommended number of servings of grain products, vegetables, and fruits, even though consumption of these foods is associated with a substantially lower risk for many chronic diseases, including certain types of cancer." Research has shown that people who follow a vegetarian diet are at a lower risk for obesity, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, diverticulosis, renal disease, some cancers (including lung and breast), and gallstones. Vegetarian diets have also been shown to benefit people who already have type 2 diabetes. In one study, 43% of the people with type 2 diabetes who ate a low-fat vegan diet reduced their need for diabetes medications.
The reason for these health benefits comes from the lower intakes of saturated fat and cholesterol and the higher intakes of complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, certain minerals, and phytochemicals. Cholesterol is only found in animal foods, so vegan diets are completely cholesterol-free.
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