Healthy Hollywood: Fab Food For Friday - Laura Linney's Healthy Diet

Laura Linney stars in Showtime’s new dramedy, “The Big C” as a middle-aged mom who is diagnosed with melanoma. It’s an emotional role, which Linney, 46, says actually made her rethink her own lifestyle.

In the August issue of Prevention magazine, the actress shares the changes she’s made to her diet, revealing, “I certainly feel better now that I’m barely eating meat. I don’t feel as heavy, my digestion is better, my skin is better – even my hair is better! And I feel healthier when I don’t eat dairy, but that’s really hard for me – I love cheese.”

Linney’s good friend and dedicated vegan, Alicia Silverstone, also helped her make the transition to a mainly vegetarian diet.

Ever think about becoming a vegetarian? I have to admit I do! Research shows you can glean many health benefits — including lower rates of bad LDL cholesterol, blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes — from doing so. There’s even good proof that vegetarians tend to weigh less than meat lovers.

But becoming vegetarian isn’t as simple as scraping the pork off your plate. Vegetarianism can actually be unhealthier than a meat-filled diet if you’re not careful about making up for nutrients you’re likelier to miss out on. Prevention has some food for thought.

Prevention’s 5 Health Rules for Going Vegetarian:

1. It’s not a free pass for junk food. Chips, bread, cookies, and crackers are all allowed on a vegetarian diet. With other foods restricted, it can be easy to overindulge.

2. Compensate for lost protein. One of the biggest mistakes vegetarians make is not planning what proteins will replace meat, chicken, or fish. Think whole grains, beans, nuts, and soy. Eating a mix of these every day should provide all the essential amino acids you need.

3. Get enough B12. Essential for a healthy heart and brain, B12 is most commonly consumed from red meat, poultry, and shellfish, so vegetarians are prone to deficiencies. One study found that 68% of vegetarian eaters had B12 levels low enough to cause problems with attention, mood, and thinking. In 38% of the group, B12 levels were low enough to raise blood homocysteine—a risk factor for heart disease, dementia, and Alzheimer’s. Ask your doctor about how to get enough B12. Many multivitamins contain the daily recommended intake for most people, but as a vegetarian, you may need an extra supplement.

4. You need more iron than you think. Plant sources of iron (like leafy greens) are poorly absorbed, so you need to consume twice what might seem healthy. Vitamin C unlocks iron from plants, so you can boost absorption by adding high-vitamin C foods, such as broccoli, oranges, strawberries, or spinach, to your meals Also, drink coffee or tea only between meals; they can interfere with iron absorption. Ask your doctor whether a separate iron supplement is right for you.

5. You don’t have to go all the way. If you’re not ready to fully commit to going veggie, try jumping on the meatless Mondays bandwagon. Adding just one meatless day per week may reduce your saturated fat intake by 15%, enough for significant improvements in your weight and heart health, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

For some great vegetarian options for dinner tonight, check out http://online.prevention.com/veggie/.

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