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Flexitarian Diet: All You Need To Know About This Modified Vegetarian Diet

Become Flexitarian and reap the benefits of vegetarian eating while still enjoying animal products in moderation. ©Shutterstock

Since it has less restrictions, and is more flexible than vegetarian or vegan diets, most people find the Flexitarian diet easy to follow and stick to it. Here's what you can or can't eat as a flexitarian?

Mediterranean, DASH and Flexitarian diets were declared as best diets for 2021 in the latest the U.S. News Rankings. The Mediterranean diet, the traditional eating pattern of the Mediterranean region bagged the Best Diet Overall for the fourth consecutive year. The diet and the flexitarian diet were tied at the No. 2 spot.

While the Mediterranean diet focuses on eating plenty of plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes, it also permits dairy, poultry, eggs, seafood and red wine in moderation. DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is a diet designed to combat high blood pressure and reduce people's risk of heart disease. It focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats. The Flexitarian diet is a modified vegetarian diet that allows consumption of meat and other animal products in moderation.

All these diet plans encourage eating more plant-based foods. But if you're a meat lover and don't want to completely cut out meat from your diet, going flexitarian may be a good idea. Keep reading to know the benefits of Flexitarian diet, what to eat and not.

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Flexitarian Diet: How it Got the Name?

American dietician and media personality, Dawn Jackson Blatner, created this diet to help people reap the benefits of vegetarian eating while still enjoying animal products in moderation. Essentially, flexitarian is a combination of the words, flexible and vegetarian. That's why it is also known as a flexible vegetarian. Blatner coined the term more than a decade ago, and introduced it in her 2009 book, "The Flexitarian Diet: The Mostly Vegetarian Way to Lose Weight, Be Healthier, Prevent Disease and Add Years to Your Life."

Since it has less restrictions, and more flexible than fully vegetarian or vegan diets, most people find the Flexitarian diet easy to follow and stick to it. It has no clear-cut rules or recommended calorie count, it's more a lifestyle than a diet. Flexitarian diet is based on the following principles:

  • Eat mostly fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains.
  • Get most of your protein from plants instead of animals.
  • Incorporate meat and animal products from time to time.
  • Eat the least processed foods and limit your sugar intake.

This diet focuses on what to include rather than restrict. Overall, it encourages eating less meat and more nutritious plant-based foods.

Possible Health Benefits ofFlexitarian Diet

Not only following the Flexitarian diet can help you lose weight, but it can improve your overall health, lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer, and as a result increase your longevity.

In the U.S. News Rankings, the Flexitarian diet was ranked No.1 in both best weight-loss diet and best diabetes diet categories. It also declared the second best plant-based diet and one of the easiest diets to follow.

Studies have shown that vegetarians have a lower risk of heart disease, compared to non-vegetarians. Researchers believe it may be because vegetarian diets are usually rich in fibre and antioxidants that may reduce blood pressure and increase good cholesterol. Since flexitarian eating primarily focuses on eating more plant-based foods, it is most likely to offer similar benefits similar.

Being flexitarian may be good for your waistline too because you will be limiting high-calorie, processed foods.

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