Vegetarian diets focus on plant-based foods as the main source of nutrients. There are many types of vegetarian diets, and according to the Mayo Clinic, they are as follows:
- Lacto-vegetarian diets exclude meat, fish, poultry, and eggs, as well as foods that contain them. Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter, are included.
- Ovo-vegetarian diets exclude meat, poultry, seafood and dairy products, but allow eggs.
- Lacto-Ovo vegetarian diets exclude meat, fish, and poultry, but allow dairy products and eggs.
- Pescatarian diets exclude meat and poultry, dairy, and eggs, but allow fish.
- Pollotarian diets exclude meat, dairy, and fish, but allow poultry.
- Vegan diets exclude meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products — and foods that contain these products.
- The one thing all vegetarian diets have in common is that they exclude meat, and all vegetarians but Pollotarians exclude poultry as well.
- There are many benefits to cutting out meat and poultry from your diet. Vegetarians enjoy the following health benefits:
1. Lower cholesterol levels
On average, vegetarians have a lower total cholesterol concentration in their blood than non-vegetarians. This should come as no surprise, as meat is primarily comprised of saturated fatty acids, which increase ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol levels in the blood when eaten in excess.
Vegetarians who do not eat dairy products may have even lower cholesterol levels, as butter and full-fat cheese, milk, and yogurt all contain saturated fats which raise cholesterol levels.
High cholesterol levels put you at risk for heart disease and stroke, the two leading causes of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
If you have high cholesterol, your doctor will most likely recommend going on a diet which limits meat and dairy intake, as well as other foods which contain saturated fats.