Lacto-Vegetarian Diet: Benefits, Foods to Eat and Meal Plan
Like other variations of vegetarianism, a lacto-vegetarian diet can help reduce your environmental impact (1Trusted Source).
However, you should take several factors into account to ensure your diet is healthy and balanced.
This article looks at the benefits and downsides of a lacto-vegetarian diet, in addition to providing a list of foods to eat and sample meal plan.
What is a Lacto-Vegetarian Diet?
The lacto-vegetarian diet is a variation of vegetarianism that excludes meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs.
Unlike some other vegetarian diets, it includes certain dairy products, such as yogurt, cheese, and milk.
People often adopt a lacto-vegetarian diet for environmental or ethical reasons.
Other common forms of vegetarianism include the lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet, ovo-vegetarian diet, and vegan diet.
The lacto-vegetarian diet is a type of vegetarianism that excludes meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs, but includes dairy products. People may choose to adopt a lacto-vegetarian diet for environmental, ethical, or health reasons.
Following a nutritious, well-rounded lacto-vegetarian diet can offer impressive health benefits.
Below are a few of the potential health benefits associated with this eating pattern.
Improves Heart Health
Multiple studies have found that lacto-vegetarian diets may improve heart health and decrease several common risk factors for heart disease.
Several other studies have found that vegetarian diets may be linked to reduced blood pressure. This is beneficial, as high blood pressure is a key risk factor for heart disease and stroke (4Trusted Source).
Promotes Blood Sugar Control
Some research suggests that adopting a lacto-vegetarian diet could help enhance blood sugar control.
A review of 6 studies including 255 people linked vegetarian diets to significant reductions in hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), a marker of long-term blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes (5Trusted Source).
Another review reported that following a vegetarian diet was associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes (6Trusted Source).
In addition, a study including more than 156,000 adults found that those who followed a lacto-vegetarian diet were 33% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, compared with those who followed non-vegetarian diets (7Trusted Source).
Supports Weight Loss
Adopting a lacto-vegetarian diet may not only be good for your health but also your waistline.
A large review of 12 studies showed that people who followed a vegetarian diet for 18 weeks lost an average of 4.5 pounds (2 kg) more than non-vegetarians (12Trusted Source).
May Reduce the Risk of Certain Cancers
Numerous observational studies have found that following a lacto-vegetarian diet may be associated with a reduced risk of several types of cancer.
Notably, vegetarian diets have been linked to a 10–12% lower risk of developing cancer overall. They've likewise been linked to a reduced risk of specific types, including colorectal and breast cancer (13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).
Keep in mind that these studies show an association, not a cause-effect relationship.
Further research is needed to evaluate whether following a lacto-vegetarian diet may help reduce your risk of cancer.
Studies show that following a balanced lacto-vegetarian diet may help improve heart health, promote blood sugar control, aid weight loss, and reduce your risk of certain types of cancer.
A balanced lacto-vegetarian diet can supply all the nutrients your body needs.
However, without proper planning, it may increase your risk of nutritional deficiencies.
Eggs are also rich in many micronutrients, such as vitamins A and D (18Trusted Source).
A deficiency in these important nutrients can cause symptoms like stunted growth, anemia, impaired immune function, and mood changes (19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source, 21Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source).
If you're following a lacto-vegetarian diet, make sure you're getting these nutrients from other food sources or supplements to meet your daily needs.
Filling your diet with whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, milk products, and plant-based, protein-rich foods will help ensure you're getting the nutrients you need.
In some cases, a multivitamin or omega-3 supplement may also be necessary to help fill any gaps in your diet.
Following a lacto-vegetarian diet requires you to pay special attention to your nutrient intake. Using supplements and following a diet rich in whole foods can help you meet your daily needs and prevent nutrient deficiencies.
Foods to Eat
A healthy lacto-vegetarian diet should include a variety of plant-based foods and dairy products.
Here are some foods you can enjoy as part of a lacto-vegetarian diet:
- Fruits: apples, oranges, berries, melons, peaches, pears, bananas
- Vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach, peppers, arugula
- Legumes: lentils, beans, chickpeas, peas
- Healthy fats: avocado, coconut oil, olive oil
- Whole grains: barley, buckwheat, quinoa, oats, rice, amaranth
- Dairy products: milk, yogurt, cheese, butter
- Protein foods: tofu, tempeh, nutritional yeast, whey, vegetarian protein powder
- Nuts: almonds, walnuts, pistachios, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, nut butters
- Seeds: chia, flax, hemp, pumpkin, and sunflower seeds
- Herbs and spices: cumin, turmeric, basil, oregano, rosemary, pepper, thyme
A lacto-vegetarian diet can include a variety of different foods, including fruits, veggies, whole grains, healthy fats, dairy products, and protein-rich foods.
Foods to Avoid
A lacto-vegetarian diet does not include meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs.
Here are some of the foods you should avoid as part of a lacto-vegetarian diet:
- Meat: beef, pork, veal, lamb, and processed meat products like bacon, sausage, deli meat, and beef jerky
- Poultry: chicken, turkey, goose, duck, quail
- Seafood: salmon, shrimp, anchovies, sardines, mackerel, tuna
- Eggs: includes whole eggs, egg whites, and egg yolks
- Meat-based ingredients: gelatin, lard, suet, carmine
A lacto-vegetarian diet limits the consumption of meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, and meat-based ingredients.
Sample Meal Plan
Here is a five-day sample meal plan that you can use to get started on a lacto-vegetarian diet.
- Breakfast: oatmeal with cinnamon and sliced banana
- Lunch: veggie burger with sweet potato wedges and side salad
- Dinner: bell peppers stuffed with quinoa, beans, and mixed veggies
- Breakfast: yogurt topped with walnuts and mixed berries
- Lunch: curried lentils with brown rice, ginger, garlic, and tomatoes
- Dinner: stir-fry with peppers, green beans, carrots, and sesame-ginger tofu
- Breakfast: smoothie with whey protein, veggies, fruit, and nut butter
- Lunch: chickpea pot pie with a side of roasted carrots
- Dinner: teriyaki tempeh with broccoli and couscous
- Breakfast: overnight oats with chia seeds, milk, and fresh fruit
- Lunch: burrito bowl with black beans, rice, cheese, guacamole, salsa, and vegetables
- Dinner: vegetarian chili with sour cream and a side salad
- Breakfast: avocado toast with tomatoes and feta cheese
- Lunch: lentil-baked ziti with roasted asparagus
- Dinner: falafel wrap with tahini, tomatoes, parsley, onions, and lettuce
Lacto-Vegetarian Snack Ideas
Here are a few healthy snacks you can include on a lacto-vegetarian diet:
- carrots and hummus
- sliced apples with nut butter
- kale chips
- cheese and crackers
- mixed fruit with cottage cheese
- roasted edamame
- yogurt with berries
- trail mix with dark chocolate, nuts, and dried fruit
The five-day sample menu above provides some meal and snack ideas you can enjoy as part of a lacto-vegetarian diet. You can adjust any of them to fit your personal tastes and preferences.
The Bottom Line
The lacto-vegetarian diet excludes meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs, but includes dairy products.
It may be associated with numerous health benefits, including a reduced risk of cancer, increased weight loss, and improved blood sugar control and heart health.
Yet, be sure to fill up on nutrient-dense, whole foods to meet your nutritional needs.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
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Low Levels Lead to Generational Impacts<p>Researchers exposed inland silverside fish to bifenthrin, levonorgestrel, ethinylestradiol, and trenbolone to levels currently found in waterways.</p><p>"Our concentrations were actually on the low end" of what is found in the wild, DeCourten said, adding that it was low amounts of chemicals in parts per trillion.</p><p>Bifenthrin is a pesticide; levonorgestrel and ethinylestradiol are synthetic hormones used in birth controls; and trenbolone is a synthetic steroid often given to cattle to bulk them up.</p><p>Such endocrine-disruptors have already been linked to a variety of health problems in directly exposed fish including altered growth, reduced survival, lowered egg production, skewed sex ratios, and negative impacts to immune systems. But what remains less clear is how the exposure may impact future generations.</p><p>For their study, DeCourten and colleagues started the exposure when the fish were embryos and continued it for 21 days.</p><p>They then tracked effects on the exposed fish, and the next two generations.</p>
Inherited Problems<p>DeCourten said the altered DNA methylation is one of the plausible ways that future generations would experience health impacts from previous generations' exposure. Hormone-disrupting compounds have been shown to impact DNA methylation, which is an important marker of how an organism will develop.</p><p>"Methyl groups are added to specific sites on the genome, [the exposure] is not changing the genome itself, but rather how the genome is expressed," she said. "And that can be inherited throughout generations."</p><p>In addition, Brander said there are essentially different "tags" that exist on DNA molecules, which tell genes how to turn on and off. She said the exposure to different compounds may be "influencing which methyl tags get taken on or off as you proceed through generations."</p><p>The researchers said the study should prompt future toxics testing to consider impacts on future generations.</p><p>"The results … throw a wrench in the current approach to regulating chemicals, where it's often short-term testing looking at simple things like growth, survival, and maybe gene expression," Brander said.</p><p>"These findings are telling us we really at least need to consider" the next two generations, she added.</p>
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Consumers have long turned to vitamins and herbs to try to protect themselves from disease. This pandemic is no different — especially with headlines that scream "This supplement could save you from coronavirus."
Vitamin D<p><strong>What it is: </strong>Called "the sunshine vitamin" because the body makes it naturally in the presence of ultraviolet light, <a href="https://www.sciencenews.org/article/vitamin-d-supplements-lose-luster" target="_blank">Vitamin D is one of the most heavily studied</a> supplements (<em>SN: 1/27/19</em>). <a href="https://health.gov/our-work/food-nutrition/2015-2020-dietary-guidelines/guidelines/appendix-12/" target="_blank">Certain foods</a>, including fish and fortified milk products, are also high in the vitamin.</p><p><strong>Why it might help: </strong>Vitamin D is a hormone building block that helps strengthen the immune system.</p><p><strong>How it works for other infections:</strong> In 2017, the <em>British Medical Journal</em> published a meta-analysis that suggested a daily vitamin D supplement <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/356/bmj.i6583" target="_blank">might help prevent respiratory infections</a>, particularly in people who are deficient in the vitamin.</p><p>But one key word here is <em>deficient. </em>That risk is highest during dark winters at high latitudes and among people with more color in their skin (melanin, a pigment that's higher in darker skin, inhibits the production of vitamin D).</p><p>"If you have enough vitamin D in your body, the evidence doesn't stack up to say that giving you more will make a real difference," says Susan Lanham-New, head of the Nutritional Sciences Department at the University of Surrey in England.</p><p>And taking too much can create new health problems, stressing certain internal organs and leading to a dangerously high calcium buildup in the blood. The recommended daily allowance for adults is 600 to 800 International Units per day, and the upper limit is considered to be 4,000 IUs per day.</p><p><strong>What we know about Vitamin D and COVID-19:</strong> Few studies have looked directly at whether vitamin D makes a difference in COVID.</p>
Zinc<p><strong>What it is: </strong>Zinc, a mineral found in cells all over the body, is found naturally in certain meats, beans and oysters.</p><p><strong>Why it might help: </strong>It plays several supportive roles in the immune system, which is why zinc lozenges are always hot sellers in cold and flu season. Zinc also helps with cell division and growth.</p><p><strong>How it works for other infections: </strong><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6457799/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Studies of using zinc for colds</a> — which are frequently caused by coronaviruses — suggest that using a supplement right after symptoms start might make them go away quicker. That said, a clinical trial from researchers in Finland and the United Kingdom, published in January in <em>BMJ Open</em> <a href="https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/10/1/e031662" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">did not find any value for zinc lozenges</a> for the treatment of colds. Some researchers have theorized that inconsistencies in data for colds may be explained by varying amounts of zinc released in different lozenges.</p><p><strong>What we know about zinc and COVID-19:</strong> The mineral is promising enough that it was added to some early studies of hydroxychloroquine, a drug tested early in the pandemic. (Studies have since shown that <a href="https://www.sciencenews.org/article/covid-19-coronavirus-hydroxychloroquine-no-evidence-treatment" target="_blank">hydroxychloroquine can't prevent or treat COVID-19</a> (<em>SN: 8/2/20</em>).)</p>
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