There are some vegetarians who are "junk food vegetarians." These types of vegetarians eat cheese pizzas and ice cream all day long. That is not good for health or life expectancy. What we mean is the person who is eating lots of vegetables prepared in healthy fats (such as olive oil) while limiting animal products, such as cheese and cream. We'll call this type of vegetarian a "whole foods vegetarian."
- The leading cause of death and the number one shortener of life expectancy in the U.S. is heart disease. As your heart ages, there can be a build of gunk in your arteries and your arteries themselves can become harder (see heart aging for more information). This causes your blood pressure to rise and your heart to work harder, leaving you at risk for heart disease. Vegetarians (whole foods vegetarians) have some of the best arteries around because eating healthy vegetables avoids bad fats and other unhealthy foods.
- People who eat lots of vegetables take in lots of antioxidants. Antioxidants help your body repair some of the damage caused by aging. The more plants you eat (and the greater variety) the more raw materials your bod has to make repairs. Read more on antioxidants and their evil counterpart, free radicals.
- Finally, vegetables simply fill you up with very few calories (if prepared without creams, butter or cheese). A healthy vegetarian diet should help maintain or lose weight. A healthy weight is tied to a longer life expectancy.