What do NBA-legend Bill Walton, tennis marvel Venus Williams, the Falcon's Tony Gonzales and the Maple Leaf's Michael Zigomanis all have in common? These super-athletes are all vegetarians.
Turns out you can provide powerful fuel for the body without eating meat. For muscle-building protein, combine foods that deliver the building blocks (amino acids), like nuts or brown rice and beans. And carbo-fuel from whole grains and fiber is slow to absorb, keeping glucose levels more stable.
A six-year study of more than 70,000 men and women found vegetarians to be healthier than meat eaters; they live longer and lower their chance of disability and dying from heart disease by enough to make their RealAges more than two years younger.
And that's true for four types of vegetarians.
1) Vegans: They eat no eggs, dairy, fish or meat.
2) Lacto-ovo-vegetarians: They DO eat eggs and dairy, but say no to fish and meat.
3) Pesco-vegetarians: They eat fish, but not meat.
4) Semi-vegetarians: They eat fish or meat once a week or less.
Why are these folks coming out on top? Well, they eat a lot more fiber (that lowers lousy cholesterol), far less saturated fat (ditto) and less added sugar. They also avoid L-carnitine, which comes from eating red meat. In your intestines it's converted into a substance that messes up your arteries more than saturated fat does.
So if you want to live longer and improve your health, there's a simple trick: Pick a number between 1 and 4.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com. Distributed by King Features Syndicate.