A vegan diet is becoming a popular trend for health-conscious individuals. This type of diet eliminates the intake of all animal products like meat, eggs, and dairy. If done correctly, a vegan diet can aid in weight loss, nutrition, and less risk of chronic diseases. Aside from all the health benefits of becoming a vegan, this type of diet also aims to support animal rights advocates and environmentalists.
Since a vegan diet is centered towards high nutritional intake with low saturated fats intake, it can significantly help those who want to lose excess fats. People who have diabetes can also take advantage of the benefits of an all plant-based diet.
However, before you even begin your vegan journey, you must remember that the body requires some nutrients you can only get in meat and dairy products. Iron, calcium, and vitamin B-12 all come from meat sources. Thus, check with your nutritionist to ensure you’ll have a healthy and successful vegan journey.
What’s in it for you?
As previously mentioned, a vegan diet comes with various benefits for overall health and wellness. Here are some of the benefits you can reap from a vegan diet:
Improved heart health
A vegan diet is known to improved heart health. Eating more plant-based food rather than meat and processed products reduce heart disease and early death for most adults. Animal products contain a high percentage of saturated fats which can lead to high cholesterol levels. Thus, minimal intake, or none at all, can keep your heart beating healthy for the years to come.
Plant-based food also contains fiber, which also helps keep the heart in a healthy shape. Vegans take in only a few calories per meal, which leads to a lower body mass index and minimizes the risk of obesity. Obesity is one of the major causes of heart disease in both young people and adults.
Lower cancer risk
Since plant-based food is generally high in fiber, research shows that a vegan diet can reduce the risk of cancer by 15%. Vegan food is also the best source of vitamins and phytochemicals, which are compounds known to protect the body against some types of cancers.
Most meat products are carcinogenic in nature, so avoiding intake also means avoiding exposure to cancer-inducing factors. Some types of cancers you can avoid by eating a plant-based diet are colorectal, prostate, and pancreatic cancers.
Research shows that a vegan diet is more effective in lowering down your body mass index (BMI) compared to other types of diet. Other types of diets such as semi-vegetarian, omnivorous, and pesco-vegetarian may not be as effective since they do not provide enough macronutrients required by the body.
Most meat products contain high saturated fat, so with a vegan diet, you limit your fat intake while maximizing low calorie and high fiber intake. However, some plant-based food may still provide high saturated fat, so it’s always necessary to do your research or ask a nutritionist for advice.
Lower risk of Type 2 diabetes
If you have Type 2 diabetes, then a vegan diet can help you control your numbers. Switching to a plant-based diet can keep your sugar and insulin levels at bay. A vegan diet includes whole grains, vegetables, legumes, and nuts which are all linked to control and balance insulin levels.
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Key Nutrients in a Vegan Diet
A vegan diet requires careful planning since a plant-based one may not provide you with some nutrients and vitamins you need for your overall well-being. A dietitian or a nutritionist can provide you with a meal plan to ensure you have everything you need as you opt to go vegan. To prevent nutritional deficiencies, ensure you have the following in your diet:
Most animal products contain a good amount of Vitamin B-12. To protect your nerves and to keep your red blood cells working, you need to add this to your diet. Fortified cereals and plant milk, yeast spreads, and nutritional yeast are all good sources of Vitamin B-12 for a vegan diet.
Vitamin D is responsible for bone health and helps the body fight cancer. A good amount of Vitamin D can also help reduce the risk of chronic health conditions. The most natural source of this vitamin is the sun. So allow yourself a few minutes every day to spend time outdoors.
To improve your blood health, you need to add iron sources in your diet. Dark leafy vegetables and some bean types produce a good amount of iron.
Calcium intake is necessary to keep your bones strong and healthy. Some good vegan sources of calcium include tahini, tofu, and some leafy greens
The immune system helps you fight off bacteria and viruses. To boost your immune system, you’ll need good sources of zinc such as nutritional yeast, beans, nuts, and oats. Zinc is also known to repair DNA damages.
To improve your health, lower down your cholesterol levels, and reduce your risk for chronic diseases, switching to a vegan diet is one effective option. Plant-based food provides a wide array of vitamins and minerals required by the body to function properly.
Switching to a vegan diet requires planning and medical advice. Some nutrients required by the body can only be provided by specific vegan sources. Thus, vegans should ensure they intake enough nutrients to keep bodily functions healthy.
Veganism should not happen overnight. Little steps towards eating healthy can provide you a much successful transition and realistic results.