Vegetarianism can be a bit daunting at first, given the wide variety of food choices. Additionally, beginners sometimes have difficulty knowing which specific food group or food item would suit them.
From vegetables to grains to legumes, the options are endless. So, we have prepared a detailed guide for you on what to eat when becoming vegetarian.
Becoming a vegetarian: what to eat (list of food groups and individual foods)
Undeniably, vegetables are among the healthiest and abundantly available foods vegetarians can access. Although all vegetables have fiber, minerals, and vitamins, some are more beneficial than others.
In addition to that, some vegetables may be more beneficial to one group of people based on their digestive system, nutritional requirements, etc. So, let us look at some of the best vegetables you can get your hands on and discuss their benefits.
Spinach tops our list because it packs amazing benefits for your health. It is a general rule in nutrition that leafy green vegetables are great sources of nutrients. Similarly, spinach is loaded with healthy nutrients such as vitamins, iron, antioxidants, and calcium.
One cup of spinach can fulfill 56% of your daily vitamin A and 100% of your daily Vitamin K needs. It is mostly made of water with just 7 calories in one cup. You also get folate, vitamin C, and magnesium from it.
Kale is another leafy green vegetable that you must add to your diet. Like Spinach, it also contains vitamins like C, A, and K. It contains proteins and minerals such as copper, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, etc.
Broccoli belongs to cruciferous vegetables, including kale, cabbage, and cauliflower. One cup of Broccoli contains 55 calories and completes the daily requirement of Vitamin K.
In addition to that, one cup of Broccoli has twice the recommended daily amount of Vitamin C. Broccoli is rich in calcium, so vegetarians who do not consume dairy can fulfill its requirements from Broccoli.
4. Sweet Potato
The delicious sweet potato is a no-brainer root vegetable on vegetarian platters. Sweet potato fries have become increasingly popular because of their exquisite taste. With 149 calories and 11 of fat per 10 fries, it is an excellent option for those who want to minimize their saturated fat intake.
It is packed with Vitamin A and contains more than the recommended daily requirement of an adult. In addition, sweet potato also has beta-carotene that fights free radicals in your body. Beta-carotene enhances your eye health and reduces the risk of cancer. Its vitamins and minerals stock is also rich enough for your nutritional requirements..
This everyday kitchen essential may have an unpleasant smell but provides several health benefits. People have used it for centuries in their meals, and for good reason. Although it is not rich in vitamins or minerals, it has incredible antibiotic properties.
Garlic controls your blood sugar levels, so people who have insulin issues will find it helpful. Besides that, it has also been found to destroy cancerous cells in rats, so its future in cancer treatment looks bright.
Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable that comes with several health benefits. It contains fiber, potassium, folate, calcium, and Vitamin C. Cauliflower is rich in antioxidants such as sulforaphane, which is good for heart health because it reduces oxidative stress.
It also provides our bodies with choline, which helps improve our memory and mood. In addition, cauliflower has glutathione, which improves our gut health resulting in better immunity and reducing inflammatory damage to our cells.
If you love spicy foods, your diet is incomplete without a touch of peppers. Luckily, there are many types, and all of them are healthy, so your choice is not limited. Peppers are loaded with Vitamin C and Magnesium.
Those trying to lose weight can find a good friend in peppers, as they are known to reduce your appetite. Ultimately, you eat fewer calories and pack fewer pounds. Those with stomach ulcers can try pepper as an effective remedy. Besides that, peppers also promote better digestion, improving your overall health.
Carrot is another colorful addition to this list that can enhance your health with delicious dishes. It also works as an excellent snack. Keep a bag of it with you whether you are at work or home, and enjoy its juicy bites whenever you want.
With 52 calories in one cup, it does not have too many calories, ensuring you maintain your weight. It is loaded with Vitamin A, which is found in beta carotene. Carrot helps improve your eyesight and may prevent vision loss in the long run.
Fruits are easy to add, healthy and delicious calories to your diet. However, there are currently over 2,000 varieties of fruits available on the market. So, which one to pick and which one to avoid? We will discuss some of the best fruits you can add to your diet today and enjoy amazing ealth benefits.
Any fruit list is incomplete without an apple, one of the most popular and nutritious fruits. A medium-sized apple has around 90-95 calories and 25g of carbohydrates. It also has decent amounts of potassium, calcium, and vitamin C. Since apples contain lots of fiber, it can boost your heart health and help you lose some weight.
Most people know bananas for their potassium content. However, it is much more than that with Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, and Magnesium. Additionally, bananas contain plant polyphenols and phytosterols. The prebiotics in bananas help improve your gut health by aiding the growth of beneficial bacteria.
Since bananas are abundant in fiber, they are great for improving your digestive health and blood sugar control. The carbs found in bananas are easily digested, so you can have them as a snack before a workout or whenever you feel low on energy.
This juicy fruit can satiate your taste buds and provide you with a load of vitamin C. Just one cup of orange contains 95.8mg of Vitamin C, which amounts to 160% of your recommended daily intake. In addition to that, oranges are also rich in magnesium, potassium, and calcium.
Orange also contains antioxidants that can help the body improve its immunity and iron absorption from plants. Besides that, oranges have vitamin A which helps maintain sharp eyesight and healthy skin.
Strawberry is another juicy fruit that is filled with water and healthy nutrients. The anthocyanin, fiber, and potassium found in strawberries benefit heart health. Another flavonoid called quercetin found in strawberries has anti-inflammatory properties.
Its low glycemic index means your blood sugar levels will stay under control even if you eat it regularly. A single strawberry has around 6 calories. With its magnesium, Vitamin B6, A, and K reserves, it becomes a highly nutritious option that you must include in your diet.
Avocado is the right choice for you if you are looking for a fruit that can provide you with healthy fats. It improves your health through a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid, which reduces your cholesterol levels.
It is also a rich source of potassium and magnesium. Besides that, avocado improves skin health and eyesight with an antioxidant called lutein. Avocado toast is one of the most delicious vegetarian recipes on your list.
Blueberries can be considered a superfood, given the number of amazing benefits they pack. They are rich in potassium and contain decent amounts of Vitamin C and calcium. There are around 42 calories in half a cup of blueberries, so you can consume them without gaining weight.
Blueberries contain antioxidants such as anthocyanin that can be instrumental in preventing cancer, heart problems, and stroke. What’s more, Pterostilbene is a compound found in blueberries that prevents plaque buildup in arteries.
Almonds are a great source of multiple nutrients such as protein, healthy fat, calcium, and magnesium. Almonds have the highest calcium content out of all nuts, a critical mineral for bone and muscle health. Good fats found in almonds promote heart health.
Similarly, consuming almond skin results in a healthy gut by promoting the growth of friendly bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria. Flavonoids in almond skin also have several antioxidants. A regular 30g serving of almonds has 184 calories, 6.3g protein, 72mg calcium, 81mg magnesium, and 6.7g fats.
It is hard to find a dessert or pudding without pistachios these days. These delicious green powerhouses are loaded with antioxidant that can prevent the anti-inflammatory processes in our bodies.
These bitter-sweet nuts have an impressive nutritional profile with good fats and omega-3 fatty acids. They have the highest amount of alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), making them essential to any vegetarian diet.
Walnuts have the highest amount of antioxidants of any nut, reducing the risk of different cancers. Regularly eating walnuts can improve your gut health by increasing the number of healthy gut bacteria.
Cashews also have copper, which helps in strengthening the immune system and brain development. Plant sterols in cashews control cholesterol levels, and the mono-saturated fats in them are good for heart health. A 30g serving of cashews has 5.3g protein, 14.5g fat, and 81g magnesium.
Chickpeas are perhaps the most popular type of legumes around and are rich in fiber and protein. With 164 calories and 9g of protein in 100g of chickpeas, they are a fulfilling source for your meals. Chickpeas also have a decent amount of folate, manganese, copper, and iron. They help reduce weight and prevent heart diseases and cancer.
Lentils are amongst the simplest vegetarian legume sources for protein, fiber, and other nutrients. 100g of lentils contain around 115 calories and 9g of protein. Lentils like chickpeas are also rich in fiber, manganese, copper, and thiamine.
Lentils play an important role in digestion by improving bowel function and keeping your stomach full for a longer time, reducing spikes in blood sugar. Lentils also increase good cholesterol and reduce LDL or bad cholesterol.
Peas provide fiber and protein like other legumes, although they have 5g of protein per 100g, slightly less than lentils and chickpeas. They have folate, fiber, manganese, Vitamin K, and thiamine.
Peas promote gut health by encouraging the growth of healthy bacteria such as lactobacillus and bifidobacteria.
4. Kidney Beans & Black Beans
Whole grains are the real bang-for-buck nutritional options for vegetarians, as they are packed with nutrients providing several health benefits. Let us look at some of the best whole grains you can consume for good health.
Most people mistake buckwheat as something similar to wheat, which it isn’t. Buckwheat is a pseudocereal, a type of cereal that doesn’t grow on grass. 20% share of buckwheat is occupied by carbs, while fiber occupies 2.7%.
Beginning any journey requires one to have useful information at hand, and vegetarianism is no different. No matter how motivated you are, the nutritional part can become confusing.
However, with this guide in hand, you can navigate your way through vegetarian nutrition successfully and achieve great health.