Vegan food excludes all animal-based products, including meat, dairy, and eggs, and involves eating only plant-based foods. If followed correctly, a plant-based diet can reduce the risk of chronic diseases and help to lose weight.
Many people are adopting vegan diets due to health, animal, or environmental concerns. And with this, the sales of plant-based foods are rising.
Vegan diets tend to be rich in nutrients. However, people following a vegan diet should be more aware of how to get certain nutrients, including iron, calcium, and vitamin B-12, that usually come from animal products.
A vegan diet includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds that provide a wide range of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and protein to meet the daily nutrients requirement of the human body.
A few nutritious plant-based foods that are part of a vegan diet include tofu, mushrooms, potatoes, jackfruit, eggplant, lentils, beans and legumes, cauliflower, nuts, peanut butter, and beets.
Check out the following six health benefits of a vegan diet.
1. Keeps Your Heart Healthy
Consuming fruit and vegetables rich in fiber, folic acid, anti-oxidants, and phytochemicals helps to maintain lower blood cholesterol levels, thus reducing the risk of heart stroke and heart diseases.
A study found that eating a plant-based diet can reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by 16% and death from heart disease by 31%.
Eating plant-based foods that are anti-inflammatory help reduce inflammation in the body. These plant foods include green leafy vegetables, yellow vegetables, whole grains, walnuts, extra virgin olive oil, tomatoes, and fruits.
People on a vegan diet often take in fewer calories leading to a lower body mass index (BMI) which reduces the risk of obesity, a major factor for heart disease.
2. Lower Cancer risk
Plant-based foods rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals (biologically active compounds) can protect the human body against cancers. According to a study, a vegan diet may reduce cancer risk by 15% in humans.
Research suggests the best way to get cancer-protective nutrients is to include vegetables, fruit, grains, beans, nuts, and seeds in your diet.
3. Help You Lose Weight
People on a vegan diet tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI) than those following other diets. So your risk of obesity decreases when you switch to a vegan diet from a meat-based diet.
However, eating lots of processed, fried, or high-fat plant-based foods can lead to unhealthy weight gain. So you should eat healthy, quality plant-based foods if weight loss is your goal.
A study shows that the mean BMI for vegans is around 23.6, while for non-vegetarians, it is 28.8, which qualifies as overweight. It is because vegan diets are more effective for weight loss and providing nutrients than other diets.
4. Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Obesity is a major risk factor for diabetes since more fatty tissue makes the body cells more resistant to insulin. A study found the prevalence of type 2 diabetes is 7.6% among non-vegetarians and only 2.9% among vegans.
Following a vegan diet filled with high-quality plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes, can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It’s likely because plants contain lower saturated fats than animal foods.
5. Increases the life expectancy
A vegan diet helps to increase life expectancy by lowering the risk of high cholesterol and blood pressure. A study found that a plant-based diet reduces the risk of all causes of mortality by 25%.
High cholesterol can lead to fatty deposits in the blood, which can restrict blood flow. Studies show that people following a strict vegan diet can lower their bad (LDL) cholesterol by 15% to 25%.
Thus, a plant-based diet can help you reduce blood pressure and lower the risk of heart attack, stroke, or heart disease.
6. Keep Your bone and Brain Strong
For strong bones, we need to take protein, calcium, vitamins D & K, potassium, and magnesium in sufficient amounts, which you can easily find in various fruits and vegetables in a vegan diet.
Studies have found that regular consumption of fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia by 13%. It is because fruits and vegetables are rich in polyphenols, which can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline.
There are several benefits of a vegan diet that you may be unable to achieve with other diets. A vegan diet can also help you eliminate potential risks associated with a meat-based diet.
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For some, being vegan is a dietary choice, while some adopt this lifestyle for its environmental benefits.
For years, dietitians and nutrition specialists have advised people to follow a vegan diet and cut back on meat as they have found incredible results from their patients. Many celebrities have also embraced plant-based eating to reduce human environmental impact.
Irrespective of the reason for the choice, people who wish to adopt a vegan diet should plan their meals carefully to get enough essential nutrients to avoid deficiency diseases.