Veganism and veganism have really come a long way in the past five years, thanks in no small measure to enlightening new studies that show it really is one of the healthiest eating regimes in the world. In this post, we highlight just a few of the most recent findings on the health benefits of the vegan and vegan lifestyles:
An Apple a Day Keep You Slim and Trim: Some people are concerned about the effect of veganism on their weight. Scientists at the University of Southern California recently conducted a study in which a group of participants were placed on one of five different diets: vegan, vegan, pesco-vegan, ‘semi-vegan’ (i.e. consuming mostly plant-based foods but some meat products) and omnivorous. The participants followed strictly defined diets for a six-month period. After the two- and six-month mark, the vegan group had lost the most weight. The researchers noted that despite consuming various types of carbohydrates (including fruit, pasta, rice and grains), the vegan group was still the most successful. This group also showed the largest drops in fat and cholesterol levels, indicating that veganism is also a heart-healthy diet.
Vegan/Vegan foods promote beautiful skin: A diet which is rich in antioxidants, phytonutrients (‘light energy’), Vitamins and minerals, enables our skin cells to produce collagen and elastin, which keep skin smooth and wrinkle-free. They also avoid toxic build-up, which leads to sagging and the formation of lines. To keep you complexion as young as possible, try to consume more foods which rank low on the Glycemic index; this is because high sugar foods shun vast amounts of glucose into your blood stream, causing Advanced Glycosation End Products (AGEs), which lead to cross-linkage of collagen and eventually, the formation of wrinkles and the appearance of flaccidity.
Plant-based diets promote heart health and staves off many cancers: A recent study which looked into the dietary habits of over 450,000 Europeans, found that diets containing a high percentage of plant-based foods are linked to a significantly lower chance of death from heart disease and stroke. Vegan diets fight inflammation, which is strongly linked to metabolic syndrome, heart disease and premature ageing. Vegan diets have also been linked in various studies to a lower risk of a plethora of disease, including breast cancer, hypertension, obesity, ovarian cancer, diabetes and colorectal cancer. To make the most of these health benefits, stick to good quality protein sources (including lentils, nuts, beans and whole grains), Calcium-rich foods (like dark leafy greens), and iron-rich food (sesame seeds, soybean nuts and dark green vegetables are the way to go), and make sure you get enough sun (to up your Vitamin D levels) and B12 (which you can find in fortified products).
Plant based diets can save the world: If all the above health reasons aren’t enough to convince you to make the change to a vegan or vegan diet, perhaps this will: a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found that plant-based diets increase our lifespan and promote environmental sustainability. Vegan eaters have one third of the carbon footprint left behind by meat eaters, who produce far greater levels of greenhouse emissions. Even if you don’t decide to go vegan, make an effort and opt for meatless Mondays or better yet, go vegan for as many days as you can! The much-lauded, Michelin-starred Chef, Juan Mari Arzak (from Spain) once said that vegetables have all the texture, flavour and magic you could ever hope to find in meat… all it takes is a little experimentation in the kitchen to whip up the most delicious meals your family has ever tried!
Loma Linda University,Vegans may be at lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, accessed March, 2015.
S Soret et al,Climate change mitigation and health effects of varied dietary patterns in real-life settings throughout North America. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2014: 100(1): 490S.
J Sabate et al.,Sustainability of plant-based diets: back to the future. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2014; 100 (Supplement_1): 476S.
M Baranski et al,Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops: a systematic literature review and meta-analyses, 2014; 112:794-811.
Washington State University,Major study documents benefits of organic farming, accessed March, 2015.
Kwikmed,Avoiding Common Vegan and Vegan Dietary Deficiencies, accessed March, 2015.
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