If you are trying to eat more plant-based foods but are not ready to give up all animal products, a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet may be for you. This kind of diet excludes meat, poultry and seafood, but includes eggs and dairy products, such as milk, cheese, yogurt and butter. You can get all of the essential nutrients and additional health benefits from making nutritious choices as a lacto-ovo vegetarian.
Increase Fiber Intake
Dietary fiber comes from the non-digestible parts of plant-derived foods, and plant-based diets can be higher in fiber than meat-based regimens. Benefits of fiber include better blood sugar control and lower risk for constipation. Fruits, whole grains, vegetables, nuts and legumes are nutritious sources of fiber; highly processed foods, such as baked goods, refined grains and sweets, have little or no dietary fiber. Dairy products and eggs do not provide dietary fiber.
Lower Cholesterol Levels
Lacto-ovo vegetarian diets can help lower your cholesterol levels because of their high amounts of dietary fiber, which can reduce your unhealthy LDL cholesterol levels, reports Mayo Clinic. Saturated fat and dietary cholesterol raise your blood LDL levels, and chicken, beef and other meat provide about one-fifth of the total amount of these components in the average American diet, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. Cutting meat from your diet can decrease your cholesterol levels and reduce your risk for heart disease.
Vegetarians tend to have lower body weights than do those who eat meat, according to Mayo Clinic. Together, chicken dishes, beef dishes, burgers and processed meats, such as sausages and bacon, contribute nearly 300 calories per day to the average American diet, reports the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Avoiding these foods while on a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet can help you lose weight or prevent weight gain.
Tips and Precautions
Giving up meat, poultry and fish can be challenging if you are used to having them at most meals. The Mayo Clinic suggests starting with one meatless meal per day or week and gradually reducing your meat intake. To reduce the saturated fat and cholesterol in your lacto-ovo vegetarian diet, choose fat-free dairy products and egg whites instead of whole eggs. Also limit your intake of added sugars and refined grains, such as white bread and pasta, to limit the empty calories in your eating plan.