Going green isn't just good for the environment: reducing your meat consumption benefits your whole body. Here are 10 ways following a vegetarian eating plan or close to it can do your body good. More: Your Guide to Vegetarian Eating. A large, five-year study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in revealed that people who don't eat meat have a lower average BMI than meat-eaters, and that vegans have a significantly lower obesity rate than omnivores 9. More: 16 Ways to Lose Weight Fast. Consuming saturated fats—which primarily come from meat and dairy— raises the level of cholesterol in your blood , and high levels of blood cholesterol increase your risk of heart disease. Ditching meat automatically lowers the amount of saturated fat in your diet, in turn reducing your cardiovascular disease risk, says Dr. Vegetarians and vegans have less hypertension than meat-eaters , according to findings published in the journal Public Health Nutrition. Researchers say it's due to their lower average weight and higher intakes of fruits and vegetables. An American Diabetes Association study found that people following a vegetarian diet had a decreased risk of metabolic syndrome , a cluster of risk factors linked to type 2 diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. Study subjects who avoided meat and poultry products tended to have lower blood pressure, blood sugar, and triglycerides, as well as smaller waists, than those who regularly consumed those foods. More: Could You Have Type 2? In , researchers at Loma Linda University began a year study of nearly 70, Seventh Day Adventists , whose religious doctrine advises them against eating meat. Their research found an association between a vegan diet and a decreased risk for all cancer types. Researchers also discovered that vegetarians experienced less gastrointestinal cancer, such as colorectal cancer , and that vegan women experienced fewer female-specific cancers, such as breast cancer. When you have regular digestion and are not bloated , you'll feel thinner, energized, and possibly even sexier, she says. More: 14 Best and Worst Foods for Digestion. Vegetarianism is one of the best diets for your skin. Eating more fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains loads you up with antioxidants, which neutralize the free radicals that can bring on wrinkles, brown spots, and other signs of aging. Following a meatless diet could make you smell more attractive and pleasant to the opposite sex, according to research published in the journal Chemical Senses. In the study, men followed "meat" or "meatless" diets for two weeks, and wore pads under their armpits to collect body odor during the final 24 hours of the diet. We agree—it's gross. Women assessed the odor samples for pleasantness, attractiveness, masculinity, and intensity. Then the men switched diets and women sampled the scents again. Women judged scents from the meat-free diet as "significantly more attractive, more pleasant, and less intense. Adding more fruits and veggies to your diet is a natural mood-booster. Economists and public health researchers from the University of Warwick and Dartmouth College studied the eating habits of 80, people in Great Britain and found that mental well-being appeared to increase with the number of daily portions of fruit and vegetables, and hit an overall peak at seven servings. The average American gets less than three servings daily. Eating more spinach, kale, beans, and other foods high in dietary nitrates may help you feel more energized over time. Research has found that dietary nitrates have vascular benefits, reduce blood pressure , and may even enhance exercise performance in healthy people. More: Best and Worst Foods for Energy. By Diana Kelly February 10, Save Pin ellipsis More. Want to lose weight, improve your mood, and boost your health?
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