5 Key Foods to Include in Your Vegetarian Diet

By Debra Rodzinak

Eating a vegetarian or vegan diet provides people a heathier way to eat and live. People who are meat eaters tend to have higher rates of cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. But, one fear of eating a strictly vegetarian diet is that certain vitamins and minerals might be missing. What is the key to eating a healthier diet while getting all of the necessary vitamins and minerals needed to stay healthy?

By knowing which particular vitamins and minerals may be missing from your diet, and then finding the best foods to eat is not impossible. Below is a list of 5 key foods to include in your vegetarian diet as reported by RodalesOrganicLife.com

Calcium

Essential for strong bones and teeth, every school-aged child knows that our biggest source of calcium comes from dairy products. If you don’t eat milk, cheese, or yogurt on a vegetarian diet, don’t worry.  You can still get your daily 1000+ mg of calcium from foods like broccoli, tofu, and edamame. 

Iron

This mineral is vital to the body. Iron makes hemoglobin which carries oxygen to our cells. People who have low iron are often weak and tired. Beans, spinach, and nuts contain iron, but if you want to increase your body’s ability to absorb iron, eat these foods with bell peppers or citrus fruits which are rich in Vitamin C. Eating these foods will ensure that you get your 18 mg of daily iron.

Vitamin D

This vitamin helps the body absorb calcium, but recent studies have suggested that it might also help with sleep and mood disorders. Eggs, fortified orange juice and cereal are good ways to increase your 600 IU daily intake of Vitamin D.

Vitamin B12

Found primarily in animal foods, Vitamin B12 is the hardest vitamin to supplement in the vegetarian diet. A lack of Vitamin B12 can cause numbness in extremities, trouble with balance, along with weakness and fatigue. If your vegetarian diet includes dairy products, yogurt is a good source of your 2.4 mcg daily Vitamin B12 intake. If not, the options are limited to nutritional yeast and foods fortified with Vitamin B12. Regular monitoring by your doctor is suggested. 

Omega-3 fatty acids

Found in foods like coldwater fish, vegetarians can find their 500 mg daily intake from walnuts, flaxseed, and pumpkin seeds. There is also a supplement made from algae that can be taken.

Careful planning of your weekly meals can ensure that you get all of the basic vitamins and minerals needed to maintain a healthy diet. 

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