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Vegan food: A healthy way

(From veganoutreach.com)

It is the position of the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada that appropriately planned vegetarian diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.…

Well-planned vegan [pure vegetarian] and other types of vegetarian diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including during pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence.

Vegetarian foods offer a number of nutritional benefits, including lower levels of saturated fat, cholesterol, and animal protein as well as higher levels of carbohydrates, fiber, magnesium, potassium, folate, and antioxidants such as Vitamins C and E and phytochemicals. Vegetarians have been reported to have lower body mass indices than nonvegetarians, as well as lower rates of death from ischemic heart disease; vegetarians also show lower blood cholesterol levels; lower blood pressure; and lower rates of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and prostate and colon cancer.

American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada, “Position of the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada: Vegetarian Diets,” Journal of the American Dietetic Association, June 2003

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a series of papers describing the benefits of basing one’s diet on vegan plant foods:

  • High fruit and vegetable consumption is associated with a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, several common cancers, and other chronic diseases (such as macular degeneration and cataracts).
  • Legumes (e.g., beans, peas, lentils, and peanuts) are excellent sources of protein, fiber, and a variety of micronutrients and phytochemicals that may protect against disease.
  • Regular consumption of nuts is linked with a lower risk for heart disease and lower mortality rates.
  • Whole-grain consumption is associated with a reduced risk for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and stomach and colon cancers.

Simply avoiding animal products will not ensure optimal health. Like everyone, vegans should eat a balanced diet. Protein, Vitamins B12 and D, omega-3 fats, calcium, and iodine are important.

See Vegan Outreach for a free copy of Guide To Compassionate Living, which includes “Staying Healthy on Plant-Based Diets ”—a detailed article with recommendations based on the latest nutrition research. Also keep up to date at VeganHealth.org.