There are many different types of vegetarian meal plans. Some include eggs, milk, or fish, while others have no animal products at all. Past research has been mixed about whether or not these types of plans are better for your health. But a new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine has shown that there may be a big advantage to meal plans full of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and fish: a lower colon cancer risk.
Researchers looked at almost 78,000 men and women from Seventh-day Adventist churches across the country. (They chose this group because the church encourages its members to eat vegetarian meal plans, and avoid alcohol and smoking.) For this study, the subjects filled out a detailed survey about their eating habits. At the seven-year follow-up, the researchers found that those who ate the lowest amount of meat products were about 21% less likely to get colon cancer. However, not all of the low-meat meal plans were equally healthy. The subjects who ate fish one or more times each month had half the colon cancer risk of those who had little to no animal products in their meal plans. While more research would be needed to confirm these results, past studies have also shown that this style of eating can improve your BMI, blood glucose levels, and cholesterol. So what does a healthy “pesco-vegetarian” plan look like?
- Plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains like brown rice, oatmeal and quinoa
- Whole nuts and seeds
- A wide range of seafood, including oily fish (salmon, mackerel, herring, tilapia), shellfish (shrimp, lobster, crab), and mollusks (oysters, clams, mussels)
- Healthy fats from olive oil, nuts, coconut oil, and avocado
- Beans and legumes