Going vegan has become a fairly popular new food trend in recent years and there are many different reasons as to why people have incorporated it into their eating habits. A plant based diet is not only great for the environment and your health, it’s also a kinder way to live (but lets not get into that today).
For now, we’re going to focus solely on the health perks of adopting a vegan menu into our lives. Here are 5 benefits of plant based food on the body. I’d love to hear your feedback and thoughts at the end. Are you a vegetarian or vegan? Are you trying to get there or totally against the idea? Let me know what you think and remember to share and upvote if you like it 🙂
Eating vegan means avoiding any foods that are animal based such as meat, dairy, eggs and honey. Meat, particularly red meat, and dairy products, such as cheese and butter, tend to be very high in saturated fats which increase your LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol. This LDL cholesterol is not good for the body and can lead to lots of heart related health issues.
By avoiding saturated fats and, instead, choosing to eat polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats (like those found in nuts and seeds) we not only lower our LDL cholesterol but also raise our HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol which is beneficial to the heart (yes, despite what you may believe there is a good kind of cholesterol that we do actually need in our bodies!)
This drop in LDL cholesterol and rise in HDL cholesterol helps to create a healthier heart and reduce your risk of things like high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and even strokes
Gut health is largely dependent on our fibre intake. There are two types of fibre: Soluble fibre, which dissolves in water in your digestive system, and insoluble fibre, which doesn't dissolve but passes through your digestive tract. Both are extremely important for a healthy gut as they help to reduce constipation, diarrhoea and cholesterol.
Now we all know we should probably be eating more of it but, with high-sugar cereal boxes claiming to be a 'good source of fibre', it can be difficult to know where to turn. Vegan foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, thankfully, are high in soluble and insoluble fibre. In fact, fibre is only found in plant foods!
By eating a healthy amount of wholegrain cereals, root vegetables, apples, bananas, nuts and seeds you can reduce your risk of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), constipation and colon cancer
Before getting into antioxidants and what they do we need to, first, take a quick look at their counterparts: free radicals and oxidants. Free radicals and oxidants are highly reactive chemicals that are formed in the body naturally and, in small amounts, they can be beneficial to the body by helping to destroy some bacteria and viruses.
Unfortunately, they are also formed by exposure to cigarette smoke, x-rays and air pollutants. With these being ever present in our modern daily lives we start to develop more oxidants and free radicals than we need. When this happens they can lead to a whole host of health problem from cancers to Parkinson's disease and from heart issues to dementia.
Antioxidants, as you may have guessed from the name, can work to counteract the effects of oxidants and free radicals. They are made naturally in small amounts by the body too but can also be introduced to our systems in the form of antioxidant rich foods, such as goji berries, blueberries, pecans, artichokes and, you'll be delighted to hear, dark chocolate!
While you'll hear many outlandish and exaggerated claims in the media about antioxidants proven to prevent and cure cancer, there is still a lot of deeper research to be done. In saying this, they have proven benefits in helping to protect against the harmful effects of free radicals so, next time you're reaching for a snack, grab a handful of blueberries instead of that chocolate bar
While getting hung up on how you look is definitely not good for your body or mind, it is important for your well-being to maintain a healthy weight. A plant based diet has been shown to have a natural tendency to reduce your calorie intake and promote weight loss and a healthy BMI (body mass index).
Of course it is absolutely possible to live off junk food as a vegan but, in general, making nutritious food choices is easier.
Arthritis is a degenerative joint disease that deteriorates the cartilage and bones around the joints and can cause a lot of pain and stiffness for those suffering from it. Switching to a whole food plant based diet has been shown to reduce the symptoms of arthritis, particularly those of osteoarthritis, by increasing the levels of beta carotene (found in carrots), vitamin E (found in almonds) and vitamin C (found in citrus fruits) in the body.
As well as this, a vegan diet is low in arachidonic acids which are known to increase inflammation (something that definitely doesn't go well with arthritis). As a little side note, guess where we do get those inflaming arachidonic acids from - that's right, animal products!