Vegan Health

There is now enormous evidence from a large number of studies that show that vegan diets provide significant health benefits1,2 that can prevent certain diseases, such as cancer3-16, diabetes17-28, and heart disease29-30. People following vegan diets typically also have lower cholesterol levels31-33, lower blood pressure34-37 and lower levels of obesity.38-40

Vegan diets contain abundant amounts of plant protein41, vitamins, minerals42-44, fibre45 and cancer-fighting phytochemicals46-60, without the harmful effects of animal fat61 and animal protein63-66. Scientific research shows that health benefits increase as the amount of food from animal sources in the diet decreases, making vegan diets the healthiest overall67. In fact a balanced vegan diet is safe and healthy for any stage of life, including infancy, childhood, adolescence, and during pregnancy. 68-70

Plant sources of calcium such as leafy green vegetables such as broccoli and kale, white beans, fortified soymilks and juices, and a variety of fruits and vegetables, easily provide all your calcium requirements. 71-75

The most nutritious sources of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are plant-based foods, including green leafy vegetables, legumes, wheat germ, soybeans, chia seeds and ground flaxseeds. 76-78 The advantage of these plant-based sources of essential fatty acids is that they do not contain the high levels of heavy metals such as mercury as well as the high levels of PCBs and dioxins found in fish. 79-81

The only supplementation that is suggested when following a vegan diet is taking a plant-based source of Vitamin B12. Small amounts of B12 may be found in plant products due to bacterial contamination82,83, but larger amounts can easily be obtained through a common daily multiple vitamin or fortified foods, such as vitamin B12-fortified breakfast cereals, soymilk, meat analogues, and nutritional yeast. 84

Present day vegan athletes such as Ultra marathon runner Scott Jurek, Ironman triathlete Brendan Brazier, European power lifting champion Patrik Baboumian, bodybuilders Billy Simmons, Jim Morris, Kenneth Williams V85 and the winner of the most Olympic medals ever, Carl Lewis (10 medals, 9 of them gold) 86,87 provide evidence that the highest level of athletic performance can be achieved without consuming any animal products.

Despite the popularity of high protein, low carbohydrate diets, the scientific literature shows that the most sustainable way to lose weight and also maintain a healthy weight is by following a healthy whole foods vegan diet. 88-90

In summary the vegan diet not only provides significant health benefits for preventing3-30 and reversing disease,91-93 but it contains all of the nutrients necessary to help achieve and maintain good health.1,2

By Mark Doneddu from Vegetarian Victoria

Why not try the 30 day Vegan Easy Challenge!

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