The research into the change of nutritional needs with age is still ongoing. However, the few studies that exist indicate that a plant-based diet might be a wise choice for people over 50. The benefits of being a vegetarian at this age are associated with the fact that this meal plan carries a lower risk of hypertension, obesity, and diabetes. All these health issues are common in seniors, so we require more protection from them as we age.
The Benefits of Being a Vegetarian for Your Heart and Vessels
Heart disease is the #1 cause of death in the US. Millions of people have a genetic predisposition to this condition.
The traditional American diet, laden with saturated fats, increases the risk of developing different heart problems.
One of the main advantages of a vegetarian diet is its low content of these dangerous fats. In fact, the majority of healthy vegetarian foods help lower the levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol. This substance clogs the arteries, which increases the risk of heart disease and other vessel-related health issues.
However, you shouldn’t forget that we need cholesterol as it actually supports the integrity of blood vessels. One of the benefits of being a vegetarian is that you get the right kind of this substance from food.
Plant-based products, especially nuts and grains, are rich in healthy fats and increase your levels of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol. Therefore, eating them regularly has an overall positive effect on the health of your heart and vessels.
Note that you’ll be able to benefit from this eating pattern only if your diet is well-balanced and void of ‘bad’ foods, such as processed meats and fried dishes with lots of not heart-friendly fats.
Vegetarian Diet for Seniors: Risks
Different studies prove that a well-balanced vegetarian diet is a healthy choice for diabetics and people suffering from many other chronic diseases. However, this meal plan can carry some risks if you don’t plan your nutrition right.
People over 50 who consider becoming or already are vegetarians, should be particularly aware of their intake of these two elements:
The need for calcium increases with age because your bone density starts to deteriorate. Men over the age of 50 are advised to get 1,200 mg of this mineral a day and post-menopausal women need as much as 1,500 mg. Vegetarian sources of calcium include dairy products, fortified foods, green leafy vegetables, seeds, and nuts. Analyze your calcium intake carefully considering the level of absorption from different foods. This will help you determine if you need to take calcium supplements.
- Vitamin B12.
Developing a vitamin B12 deficiency is a common concern for seniors, regardless if they are vegetarian. This is caused by the fact that its absorption rate reduces with age. The best way to fight this problem is to take specialized supplements.
- Vitamin D.
In the case of this element, supplementation becomes a necessity because the level of its synthesis in the body decreases as years go by. You can try to meet your needs by eating fortified foods. However, it’s best to consult your doctor about a healthy dose of this vitamin for you.