Author Topic: Vegetarians less likely to get heart disease: nutritionist  (Read 1923 times)

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Vegetarians less likely to get heart disease: nutritionist
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2012, 04:00:57 PM »
Animals Australia and the Australian Vegetarian Society both say there is evidence that animal welfare concerns are pushing people towards vegetarianism. Photo: Tamara Voninski

  The live animal export trade is unethical, says independent MP Andrew Wilkie.

Tell your friends you're swapping beef for broccoli, pork for pumpkin and lamb for legumes, and it's likely they will try to warn you off.

Giving up meat, they'll argue, means you won't get enough protein (needed for growth and immunity), or iron, or calcium, or zinc. And you'll be stuck with eating tofu for protein.

But with more Australians appearing to eat less meat, new research shows that a well-planned plant-based diet has more health benefits than risks.

"The evidence is quite good that people who follow a vegetarian diet are likely to have less heart disease, less colorectal cancer, less type-2 diabetes and they're less likely to be obese," nutritionist Rosemary Stanton said.

Dr Stanton said the new research, by Australian and international academics published in the Medical Journal of Australia today,  showed getting everything the body needs while maintaining a vegetarian diet is not as complicated as once thought.

"With protein, for example, the text books I wrote back in the 1970s told you that you had to combine certain plant-based foods together to get adequate amounts of protein," she told ABC Radio National.

"But the advances in biochemistry mean that we now know that you don't have to do that. As long as you've had a variety of plant-based foods over the course of a day or so, your body will take the amino acids from the ones it needs as it needs them.

"So we don't need to fuss about having seeds and nuts together or particular foods together the way we used to."

Animal welfare concerns
Animals Australia, the organisation that captured the footage of  Australian cattle being mistreated in Indonesian abattoirs shown on Four Corners last year, and the Australian Vegetarian Society both said there was  evidence that such animal welfare concerns were pushing more people  towards vegetarianism.

Sydneysider Marianna Thomson, 29, stopped eating red meat as a child  when her vegetarian father teased her as she ate it at the dinner table  by saying: "I thought you liked sheep, I thought you liked animals."

But it was last year's Four Corners expose and footage of animal cruelty at the Hawkesbury abattoir this year that shocked her into giving up meat entirely.

"I thought, well if that's happening in Australia, who knows if it's happening elsewhere?" she said.

The Hawkesbury abattoir was shut down in February and described by the NSW Food Authority as a "rogue operator".

Ms Thomson said she has had her iron levels checked and they were fine.

"It's a bit of a misconception that you can't get all your vitamins and minerals from a veg diet alone."

Meat and Livestock Australia said in a statement: "There is no  evidence that more Australians are leading a vegetarian lifestyle, a  figure which remains stable at 9% (ROY MORGAN).

"Beef and lamb are not only rich in nutrients, they are also enjoyed  by most Australians 3 to 4 times a week and for these reasons, they make  a valuable contribution to their intake of iron, zinc, omega-3 and b  vitamins."

Going primal or giving up
Tara Diversi, a lecturer in nutrition at the University of Sydney, said Australians were constantly changing the way they eat; at the moment people were either going "primal" and eating a lot of meat, or giving it up.

Those thinking about giving up meat should see their GP or a dietitian before becoming a vegetarian to talk about the foods that provide essential vitamins and minerals, she said.

Protein can be found in legumes, such as beans and lentils, and tofu, while iron and zinc are in wholemeal grains, legumes and nuts.

Vitamin B12, required to make red blood cells, is found in eggs and possibly mushrooms, and deficiencies are mostly a concern in vegans - those who do not consume any animal products.

"You can eat quite a good vegetarian diet and not need supplements, but you need to be careful," she said in an interview last week.

"You need to make sure that you're having complementary proteins; that means eating grains and beans.

"We don't want people to rely on supplements, because in whole food it's a lot easier not to overdose."

Members of the vegetarian family
- Ovo-lacto vegetarians: those who do not eat any meat, but do eat dairy and egg products.

- Ovo-vegetarians: those who eat meat and eggs, but not dairy.

- Pescatarians or aquatarians: those who cut out most meats, except for fish.

- Flexitarian: those who mostly keep to a vegetarian diet, but will eat meat occasionally.

- Vegans: those who do not consume, and sometimes do not use or wear, any kind of animal products.

Stephanie Gardiner June 4, 2012 - with AAP
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« Last Edit: July 02, 2012, 09:20:29 PM by WA Export News »