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A Nutrition Guide to a Vegan Diet
Veganism is a philosophy and a way of living which seeks to exclude as far as possible and practicable all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose. It promotes the developments and use of animal free alternatives for the benefits of animals, environment and humans.
In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals. Various studies have linked an intake of plant based foods and lower intake of animal foods with positive results towards healthy life backed by scientific and empirical research. Some of the benefits of a vegan diet are listed here:
- Vegan diet routine reduces body mass index (BMI) and cholesterol levels. High levels for these markers are risk factors for heart diseases.
- Vegan diet has also shown positive results for weight control and losing extra weight. A vegan diet improves digestive activity and increases the rate of metabolism as it is fiber rich. Vegan supplements are also available for helping fat burn. In fact there are specific fat-burning vegan supplements for women such as Leanbean, as explained in this article.
- Vegan diet appears to Lower blood sugar levels and improve kidney functions.
- A vegan diet can reduce pain from arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.
- It also lowers risk of type 2 diabetes. A vegan diet is very rich in fiber content that helps keep the levels of blood sugar in check.
- Other benefits include healthier skin, more antioxidants, inexpensive depression therapy, better immune system, minimizing migraine attacks.
Vegan Nutrition Guide
An appropriate balance of carbohydrates, fats and protein is important for overall health. A balanced vegan diet should include a wide variety of the following foods as you desire maximum health benefits from a vegan diet.
- Fruits: Fruits are high in fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals which boost your disease-fighting antioxidant. You can eat fresh or frozen fruit to take advantage of the many health benefits that fruit provides. Some of the healthiest fruits you can eat are berries, citrus fruits, pineapple, mango and apples but every fruit is a good fruit.
- Vegetables: They are low in calories yet nutrient, phytochemical and fiber-rich and will cover many of your nutritional needs. The best vegetables to eat daily are dark leafy greens and from there, you will want to focus on consuming as many different colours as possible on a regular basis.
- Whole grains: Whole grains is where you will find your pasta, bread, rice, quinoa, oats, flours and other whole grains and whole grain products. Whole grains will most likely make up a good part of your diet and provide much of your protein, fibre, complex carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.
- Nuts and seeds: Nuts and seeds provide a lot of nutrition and sustenance in a vegan diet. Some of the nuts and seeds that should be part of your diet are almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, pecans, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds and pistachios
- Legumes: Legumes such as beans, peas, lentils, peanuts and soy are an excellent source of fibre, protein, iron, calcium, zinc, and B vitamins. Lentils and beans are inexpensive, versatile, taste great and they help to reduce cholesterol and maintain stable blood sugar levels. Legumes include the soybean which is readily available as tofu and soy milk.
- Oils: Concentrated fats from oils are not required for optimal health as the essential fats found in them already comes from whole food sources. By including avocados, olives, nuts and seeds in our diet we can cover much of our essential fatty acid needs while also taking advantage of other nutrients and fibre and healthy fats like coconut oil to cover all your micronutrient needs.
Some nutrients are hard to get on a strict plant-based diet. You should make sure that you include vegan products that contain the following nutrients,
- Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is mainly present in animal products. It protects the nerves and red blood cells. Plant based sources of this vitamin include fortified cereals and plant milk, nutritional yeast and yeast spreads.
- Vitamin D: Regularly eating vitamin D fortified foods and spending time in sun can boost vitamin D levels.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: It is important for heart, eyes and brain function. Walnuts, seaweeds and algae are plant sources for Omega-3 fatty acids.
- Zinc: Zinc is important for the immune system and for the repair of DNA damage. Beans, nutritional yeast, nuts, and oats are high in zinc.
- Iodine: iodine is important for thyroid function. Plant based sources of iodine include seaweeds and fortified foods.
A good well planned vegan diet can help prolong life as you desire to get all necessary nutrients from vegan foods for good health. Surrounding yourself with supportive like minded people is a great way to keep motivated during your vegan journey.