ADVISE To WomenFollowing Vegetarian and Vegan diet
By Sharon Palmer, RDN, Special article to Everyday Health
Sharon Palmer, The Plant-Powered Dietitian, is the author of The Plant-Powered Diet and Plant-Powered For Life, as well as the The Plant-Powered Blog. She has written articles for Prevention, Better Homes and Gardens, Today’s Dietitian, and other magazines, and she is the editor of the award-winning publication Environmental Nutrition. She serves as the consulting dietitian for the Oldways Vegetarian Network, is a Regional Co-Director for the Association of Food Journalists, and is an editor for theAcademy of Nutrition and Dietetic’s website. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter,Pinterest, and Instagram.
She says that Contrary to what you may have heard, a plant-based diet – one that is limited in or devoid of any animal products – is not off-limits for aging women. In fact, this style of eating can offer optimal health rewards for older women, such as promoting healthy weight, warding off heart disease, and protecting against the risks of other chronic diseases.
According to her,Vegetarian and vegan diets are not only rich in all of the good stuff, like fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phyochemicals; they’re low in all of the “bad” stuff, like cholesterol, saturated fat, and toxins. Indeed, vegetarian diets have been linked with numerous health benefits, including a lower risk of ischemic heart disease, hypertension, cancer, and type 2 diabetes; as well as lower levels of LDL cholesterol and blood pressure; and decreased BMI.
Vegans do need to put a little bit of extra emphasis on protein-dense foods, making sure they consume at least four servings or more of protein-rich food per day, but it’s not hard to fit this in with a little careful planning. A protein-rich plant food serving is one-half cup of beans, tofu, or soy milk; 2 tablespoons of nut or seed butter; or 1 ounce of nuts or seeds.
Further, she advises that the vitamin B12 is probably one of the greatest nutritional concerns for vegetarians and vegans because vitamin B12 is generally found only in animal foods, such as fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and other dairy products.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is serious, as it may result in megaloblastic anemia, which can cause numbness in the arms, difficulty walking, memory loss, and disorientation. Though vitamin B12 is available in fortified foods, it’s recommended that vegans supplement their diet with a daily vitamin B12 supplement. However, even non-vegetarian older women should be concerned about vitamin B12, as older adults may have impaired absorption of this nutrient and suffer from deficiency. Thus, the Institute of Medicine recommends that all adults over the age of 50 get most of their vitamin B12 through supplements and fortified foods. Read the full article in