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Reducing or eliminating meat from your diet can minimize the risk of chronic diseases and help you lose weight.

More than 7.3 million Americans already follow a vegetarian-based diet, and another 22.8 million have a vegetarian-inclined diet that occasionally includes meat, according to Vegetarian Times.

Over half of vegetarians say they follow that diet to improve their health.

An appropriately planned vegetarian diet, which should include plant-based protein such as beans or tofu, tends to have far less saturated fat and cholesterol than conventional meat-based diets.

Vegetarians also get more vitamins, fiber, folic acid, potassium and healthy plant chemicals such as carotenoids and flavonoids.

Taken together, these benefits result in lower cholesterol, better blood pressure and lower body mass index (BMI) for vegetarians.

There is evidence that, over time, vegetarian diets reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer, according to scientists at Harvard Medical School.

For those who don’t want to eliminate meat entirely, simply increasing the proportion of vegetables and fruits in your diet can also drastically improve your health.

It’s important that there is a wide variety to get the vitamin and mineral benefits across the spectrum of fruits and vegetables.

Leafy greens have lots of Vitamin K, folate and iron, while fruits such as rosehips are rich in Vitamin C (more than 25 times as much Vitamin C as citrus fruits!) and antioxidants. NADI rosehip drink is a delicious way to get more all-natural Vitamin C in your diet.

One study by Harvard researchers showed that people who ate 8 or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day were 30% less likely to have a heart attack or stroke than those who only ate 1.5 servings.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics offers great resources for planning healthier diets, and U.S. News & World Report compiled this handy list of healthy diets.