FLEXITARIAN DIET EXPLAINED
Flexitarianism is an increasingly popular, plant-based diet that claims to reduce your carbon footprint and improve your health with an eating regime that's mostly vegetarian yet still allows for the occasional meat dish.
FLEXIBLE + VEGETARIAN = FLEXITARIAN
The rise of the flexitarian diet is a result of people taking a more environmentally sustainable approach to what they eat by reducing their meat consumption in exchange for alternative protein sources.
Following a flexitarian diet highlights an increased intake of plant-based meals without completely eliminating meat. It is about adding new foods to your diet as opposed to excluding any, which can be extremely beneficial for health. These plant-based foods include lentils, beans, peas, nuts and seeds, all excellent sources of protein.
It is also widely accepted that soluble fibre found in lentils and beans helps to reduce high cholesterol as part of a healthy diet, so including these regularly is definitely recommended. Nuts and seeds such as linseed (flaxseed), pine nuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and walnuts are high in the heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats which help to maintain healthy cholesterol levels and provide essential fatty acids. Research has shown that practicing a flexitarian diet in conjunction with physical activity can promote a lifestyle consistent with recommendations for reducing risks of prostate and breast cancer
The healthiest meats such as chicken or Turkey are the best to include in this diet. processed meats such as bacon, sausages, salami, ham and pâtés should be eaten very occasionally as they are high in both saturated fat and salt and provide very little in the way of vitamins and minerals.
To ensure you get all the correct nutrients you need from the flexitarian diet, its beneficial to eat plant based foods at every meal. With at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day along with whole grain foods.
It is also a good idea to include alternative sources of iron that may be lacking due to a low intake of red meat. Good sources include low sugar, iron-fortified breakfast cereals and dark green, leafy vegetables such as spinach, cabbage, kale and broccoli. As vitamin C increases iron absorption, a small glass (150ml) of fruit juice or salad items like sweet peppers, lamb's lettuce and tomatoes with meals is recommended.