4 Essential Health Benefits of a Vegan Diet
Vegan diets are known to help individual lose weight. Additionally, Vegan Diets also offer an assortment of additional health benefits.
For beginners, did you know that a Vegan Diet may help you maintain a healthy heart?
Furthermore, a Vegan Diet may offer some protection against type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.
Here are 4 essential health benefits of vegan diets.
1. A Vegan Diet Is Richer in Certain Nutrients
If you switch to a vegan diet from a traditional Western diet, you will eliminate meat and animal products.
This will ultimately lead you to rely more heavily on alternative foods. In the case of a vegan diet, replacements take the form of
- Whole grains
- And seeds
Since these foods create a greater proportion of a Vegan Diet than a traditional Western diet, they can contribute to a higher daily intake of certain beneficial nutrients as well.
Several studies have reported that Vegan Diets tend to provide more fiber, antioxidants and beneficial plant compounds. Furthermore, they also appear to be richer in potassium, magnesium, folate and vitamins A, C and E.
However, not all Vegan Diets are created equal.
For example, poorly planned Vegan Diets may provide insufficient amounts of crucial fatty acids, vitamin B12, iron, calcium, iodine or zinc.
That’s why it is pivotal to stay away from nutrient-poor, fast-food vegan options. Instead, base your diet around nutrient-rich whole plants and fortified foods. Additionally, you may also want to consider supplements like vitamin B12.
2. A Vegan Diet Can Help You Lose Excess Weight
A large number of people are turning to plant-based diets in the hope of shedding excess weight.
A handful of observational studies show that people on Vegan Diets tend to be thinner and have lower body mass indexes (BMIs) than non-vegans.
Furthermore, a good amount of randomized controlled studies — the gold standard in scientific research — report that Vegan Diets are more effective for weight loss than the diets they are compared to.
In one study, a Vegan Diet helped participants lose 9.3 lbs (4.2 kg) more than a control diet over an 18-week study period
Interestingly enough, participants on the Vegan Diet lost more weight than those who followed calorie-restricted diets, even when the vegan groups were allowed to eat until they felt fairly full.
What is more, a recent small study comparing the weight loss effects of five different diets concluded that vegetarian and vegan diets were just as well-accepted as semi-vegetarian and standard Western diets
Even when they were not following their diets in an ideal state, the vegetarian and vegan groups still lost slightly more weight than those on a standard Western diet.
Vegan diets have a natural tendency to reduce your calorie intake. This makes them effective at promoting weight loss without the need to actively focus on cutting calories.
3. A Vegan Diet Appears to Lower Blood Sugar Levels and Improve Kidney Function
Going vegan may also have benefits for type 2 diabetes and declining kidney function.
Vegans usually tend to have lower blood sugar levels, higher insulin sensitivity and up to a 50–78% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Additionally, studies even report that Vegan Diets lower blood sugar levels in diabetics more than the diets from the American Diabetes Association (ADA), American Heart Association (AHA) and National Cholesterol Education Program.
In one study, 43% of participants following a Vegan Diet were able to reduce their dosage of blood-sugar-lowering medication, compared to only 26% in the group that followed an ADA-recommended diet.
Other studies report that diabetics who substitute meat for plant protein may reduce their risk of poor kidney function.
What’s even more beneficial is that several studies report that a Vegan Diet may be able to provide complete relief of systemic distal polyneuropathy symptoms — a condition in diabetics that causes sharp, burning pain.
4. A Vegan Diet May Protect Against Certain Cancers
According to the World Health Organization, about one-third of all cancers can be prevented by essential factors within your control, including diet.
For example, eating legumes daily may reduce your risk of colorectal cancer by about 9–18%.
Research also recommends that eating at least seven portions of fresh fruits and vegetables per day may lower your risk of dying from cancer by up to 15%.
Vegans usually eat considerably more legumes, fruit and vegetables than non-vegans. This may explain why a recent review of 96 studies found that vegans may benefit from a 15% lower risk of developing or dying from cancer.
Furthermore, Vegan Diets typically contain more soy products, which may offer some protection against breast cancer.
Avoiding certain animal products may also help reduce the risk of prostate, breast and colon cancers.
That may be because vegan diets are devoid of smoked or processed meats and meats cooked at high temperatures, which are thought to promote certain types of cancers.
Vegans also avoid dairy products, which some studies show may slightly increase the risk of prostate cancer.
On the other hand, there is also evidence that dairy may help reduce the risk of other cancers, such as colorectal cancer. Therefore, it is likely that avoiding dairy is not the factor that lowers vegans’ overall risk of cancer.
It’s crucial to note that these studies are observational in nature. They make it impossible to pinpoint the exact reason why vegans have a lower risk of cancer.
However, until researchers know more, it seems wise to focus on increasing the amount of fresh fruits, vegetables and legumes you eat each day while limiting your consumption of processed, smoked and overcooked meat.
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