Nutritionists Say Vegetarian Diets Are Best
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics updated its 2009 position on plant-based diets, saying vegetarian or vegan diets that are well-planned are suitable for all stages of life—including childhood—and can help reduce the risk for a number of health problems. In addition, the Academy says plant-based diets are more sustainable and better for the environment—reducing greenhouse gases by about 50 percent.
According to the Academy, adopting a plant-based diet in childhood can reduce the risk for health problems and chronic diseases later in life. Benefits include a lower risk for heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. A recent poll indicated that approximately 3.3 percent of adults in the U.S. are vegetarian or vegan.
While several studies have shown the benefits of a vegetarian diet, others have suggested they may do harm. For example, a study in 2014 linked plant-based diets to an increased risk for allergies, cancer, and mental health disorders—perhaps due to a low intake of certain nutrients from animal products. A well-planned vegetarian diet includes plenty of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains.
Image Credit: Thinkstock