Okay, what the heck is a flexitarian? Confession time: It is a person who is flexible about their eating habits… probably leaning more toward being a vegetarian, or even a vegan, while definitely minimizing their consumption of animal proteins. A flexitarian is just not quite ready to give up the occasional burger or barbequed chicken… Does this sound like you? No worries… it’s all good.
Each of us has eating choices to make every day, and as the news spreads, as well as food DVDs helping us learn more, many people are choosing to eat healthier. Hooray! Whatever steps you make in this direction are excellent, even if they are baby steps! Here are some of the bennies for you!
Direct Health Benefits
Dozens of scientific studies analyzed by Nutrition Reviews revealed that people who eat a 100 percent vegetarian diet generally weigh about 15 percent less than meat eaters. An article in the International Journal of Obesity and Metabolic Disorders reports that many other studies show that semi-vegetarians (or flexitarians) reap weight loss benefits, as well.
More, flexitarians enjoy lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure than carnivores. The American Institute for Cancer Research estimates that following a flexitarian diet can reduce the risk of cancer by upwards of 40 percent. Finally, a study published in the American Journal of ClinicalNutrition has revealed that flexitarians live 3.6 years longer than non-vegetarians.
Achieving Nutritional Balance
Although it is possible to obtain total balanced nutrition from a plant-based diet, flexitarians need to pay particular attention to 10 vital nutrients: vitamins A, D, B2 and B12, iodine, iron, zinc, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids and protein. Following is a helpful, four-point checklist to ensure these specific nutrient needs are met every day:
1) Eat orange and green produce regularly for vitamin A.
2) Drink organic milk or almond milk regularly for quick calcium, vitamin D, B12 and riboflavin (B2).
3) Shake ground flaxseed on cereal, yogurt and salads, or use flaxseed oil on raw or cooked foods, for omega-3 fatty acids.
4) Include plant proteins such as beans and lentils to meet protein, iron and zinc needs.