We recently brought you ten amazing reasons to shift to a plant-based diet, from resolving several diseases and conditions to weight los and fitness. But we aren't through yet! Here are TEN MORE!
11. A Vegan Diet Prevents Heart Disease
According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease remains the number one global cause of death, with 17.3 million people dying in 2015. That number is expected to rise to 23.6 million by 2030.
We already know that a diet high in saturated foods and animal proteins can contribute to unhealthy weight gain, raised cholesterol, higher BMI, and cardiovascular disease. But is the opposite true? Can a vegetable-based diet actually improve cardiovascular health?
In a study conducted at the Wellness Institute of the Cleveland Clinic, 198 patients with heart disease were placed on a plant based diet that eliminated all dairy, meat and fish. Their progress was followed over the span of almost four years, and the results showed that patients had a reduced rate of cardiac symptoms and events.
Bottom Line: A vegan diet can be beneficial in preventing and reversing cardiovascular disease.
12. Vegans Have Fewer Migraines
Migraines are often affected by diet. Most migraine sufferers are advised to avoid certain triggers like chocolate, cheese, and alcohol. But a group of Washington, D.C. researchers recently found that a low-fat, plant-based diet may be beneficial to sufferers.
For the study, 42 randomly selected migraineurs ate either a vegan diet or received a placebo supplement for 26 weeks. Followers of the vegan diet reported a significant decrease in pain, as well as changes in body weight and cholesterol levels.
The authors concluded that a vegan diet could potentially be of great benefit to migraineurs due to its exclusion of several common migraine triggers, and its effects on hormones. Its potential value is in nutritional approaches to migraine treatment.
Bottom Line: A vegan diet can lead to the alleviation of migraine symptoms and a reduction in the number of attacks.
13. Vegans Eat a More Nutritious Diet
A vegan diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and beans has many nutritional benefits.
Following a healthy, balanced vegan diet ensures that the body has sufficient amounts of the following:
- Carbohydrates - provide energy for the body
- Fiber - prevents colon cancer
- Magnesium - aids in absorption of calcium
- Potassium - stimulates the kidneys and detoxifies
- Folate - helps with cell repair, generates red and white blood cells
- Antioxidants - protect against cell damage and cancer
- Vitamin C - boosts immune system, strengthens nails
- Vitamin E - benefits heart, skin, eyes, and brain
- Phytochemicals - prevent and heal cancer
- Protein - building block of bones, muscle, cartilage, and blood
These foods provide the body with everything it needs to function at optimum levels, as demonstrated by a 2014 study that compared the nutritional qualities of vegan, vegetarian, semi-vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian, and omnivorous diets.
The study concluded that a vegan diet was the healthiest for nutritional intake, nutritional quality, and body weight.
Bottom Line: Vegan food is healthier and provides better nutrition.
14. Vegans are Happier and Less Stressed
A vegan diet can help with stress and anxiety. A study conducted in 2015 indicates that a plant-based diet may have a positive impact on mood. Participants were surveyed on mood, diet, and lifestyle factors. The results demonstrated that vegans had lower levels of anxiety, and ate a healthier diet.
This could be because meat-based diets are high in arachidonic acid, a saturated omega-6 fatty acid.
Arachidonic acid (AA), in high amounts, can upset the balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. The body needs these acids to be balanced at a rate of 1:1. If not, then the body’s immune system, and cardiovascular health become negatively affected.
Another outcome of a high intake of AA is changes to the brain that can affect mood.
In a randomized, controlled study, 39 omnivores were divided into 3 groups; a control group eating fish, meat, and poultry daily; a group that ate fish 3-4 times a week but avoided meat and poultry; and a vegetarian group avoiding all meat, fish, and poultry. After two weeks, results showed that mood scores were unchanged for omnivores and fish eaters, but the vegetarian group showed significantly improved scores.
In another study, researchers surveyed nearly 800 participants, including vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores. All participants responded to an online survey featuring questions about their dietary choices, vitamins and supplements, lifestyle activities, demographics, and levels of anxiety, stress, and depression. The results showed that overall, vegans, and to a lesser extent vegetarians, reported less stress and anxiety than omnivores.
Bottom Line: Vegans are generally happier and less stressed than non-vegans.
15. A Vegan Diet Balances Hormones
Our hormones control most of the major body functions, including hunger, reproduction, emotions, and mood. When they are in proper balance, hormones help the body to function well, but problems with hormones can cause serious and life-altering symptoms.
Fatty foods affect the body in many ways, and have a strong influence on hormonal activity the body. High fat diets increase levels of estrogen in the blood. Although estrogen is a normal hormone for both men and women, if estrogen levels are too high it can lead to breast cancer.
Vegetarians have significantly lower levels of estrogen than non-vegetarians. In part this is due to the fact that their diet tends to be lower in fat, but vegetarians also have more of a certain type of carrier molecule called sex hormone binding globulin or SHBG which ensures that these hormones remain inactive in the blood until needed. Fatty foods reverse the process. They increase estrogens and reduce the amount of SHBG.
Animal fats appear to be worse — increasing estrogen more than vegetable fats. A study at New York University Center that compared the diets of 250 Italian women with breast cancer to 499 women without cancer from the same province noted that the cancer patients had significantly more milk, cheese, butter, and meat in their diets. In fact, women who consumed more meat products had as much as three times greater risk of getting cancer than other women.
Bottom Line: Eating a vegan diet controls hormone levels and helps the body to function at an optimal level.
16. A Vegan Diet Can Prevent Strokes
Strokes are essentially brain attacks. They happen when the blood supply to part of your brain is cut off, preventing essential nutrients and oxygen from reaching the brain cells. Without blood these cells get damaged or die. A stroke can affect both the body and mind, and its effects can be temporary or permanent.
Strokes are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, and kill around 130,000 Americans every year.
The cholesterol and saturated fats present in animal products can clog the arteries supplying blood to the brain, which, in turn can lead to strokes.
Going meat-free can greatly reduce your risk of suffering from strokes. Researchers have found that a vegetarian diet is the only lifestyle change that can consistently reverse the hardening of the arteries that cause strokes, and reduce cholesterol at the same time.
Vegetarians and vegans also tend to have consistently lower blood pressure which reduces the risk of strokes. Researchers who tracked 72,000 women over a period of 14 years have confirmed that those who adhered to diets rich in fruits, vegetables, and grains were less likely to suffer from strokes in comparison with those who ate the typical American diet, heavy with meat, dairy products, and eggs.
Bottom Line: A vegan diet protects the brain by preventing strokes and maintaining healthy arteries.
17. A Vegan Diet Protects Against Allergies and Asthma
Respiratory allergies are an inflammation of the mucous membranes that line the nasal passages. They occur when our bodies recognize an external substance (common allergens include pollen, pet dander, dust, smoke, etc.) that triggers an immune response. Antibodies in our blood provoke an inflammatory response, which gives us the symptoms of itchy eyes, runny nose, and in the case of asthma, wheezing and tightness of breath.
Nutrition plays a major role in asthma, and there’s increasing evidence that foods can affect seasonal allergies too. For many years, people with asthma suspected that dietary changes might help. Many noticed that they had fewer episodes and needed less medication when they switched to vegetarian (especially vegan) diets.
In the mid-1980s, anecdotal reports led researchers to put these observations to the test. A 1985 Swedish study demonstrated that individuals with asthma practicing a vegan diet for a full year had a marked decrease in the need for medications, and in the frequency and duration of asthma attacks.
According to the longest-running study in history comparing vegetarians to non-vegetarians, women who eat meat appear to have a 30% greater chance of reporting chemical allergies, 24% more asthma, 17% more drug allergies and bee-sting allergies, and 15% more hay fever.
Why do vegetarian and vegan diets help? Researchers first attributed these benefits to the absence of common food triggers, such as meat, dairy, and eggs, common allergy trigger foods for many people. But there’s probably more to it. Repeated studies have shown that people who eat more fruits and vegetables have reduced risk of asthma, presumably because these foods improve immune system functions.
Vegetarians are also thinner, which also appears to have a positive effect on asthma. Harvard’s long-term Nurses’ Health Study (an ongoing project studying thousands of nurses for multiple health concerns) found that thin people have only one-third the risk of asthma compared to overweight participants. When heavy people begin a low-fat, vegetarian diet, they typically lose a significant amount of weight, which is likely to improve asthma.
Bottom Line: Many people have noted that their allergy symptoms reduced or even disappeared once they switched to a vegan diet
18. Vegans Have Beautiful Skin
Many vegans rave about how their skin has improved since they started this diet.
Our skin can be affected by many things, including diet and hormones.
Multiple studies of people eating traditional native diets – almost all of which are low fat-diets, based on starches, vegetables, and fruits – have found that these people have little or no acne. However, when these healthy people switch to a typical Western diet, acne becomes an epidemic.
Examples of well-studied populations include the Kitavan Islanders of Papua New Guinea who live on a diet of 70% carbohydrate from plant foods, and the Ache’ of Eastern Paraguay with a diet of about 70% of the calories coming from manioc (cassava – a root vegetable). Acne is completely absent – not a single sufferer – in these two populations living primarily on unprocessed, low-fat plant-foods.
Research has demonstrated that dairy products can lead to acne vulgaris, as can foods with a high glycaemic load. A vegan diet eliminates these products, thereby improving the skin and leading to a clearer, brighter complexion.
Bottom Line: Vegans diets eliminate acne and lead to clear, healthy skin.
19. Vegan Foods Create Strong and Healthy Nails
To keep your nails looking their best and feeling strong, your body needs to produce sufficient amounts of collagen. In order to achieve this, the body needs large amounts of vitamin C. A typical vegan diet includes many of the foods that contain Vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, peppers, and broccoli.
In addition to Vitamin C, Vitamin A also plays a role in healthy nails. This can be found in fruits such as apricots, while silica, a mineral which helps to keep nails strong can be found in cucumbers.
Bottom line: The vegan diet is filled with vitamins and minerals that give you strong and healthy nails.
20. Vegans Have Better Body Odor
Although not everyone realizes this, there is a direct link between what we eat and our body odor. Body odor is affected by what is emitted by sweat glands, especially the ones in our armpits. These glands are designed to help us get rid of toxins from the body. The toxins we excrete are what causes body odor, so therefore what we eat directly affects how we smell.
Red meat is the number one cause of body odor. It causes stagnation in the body and releases all sorts of toxins into the bloodstream through the large intestine.
Other foods that contribute to body odor are manufactured foods lacking fiber and made with processed ingredients, including white flour, hydrogenated oil, and added sugars.
Once those foods are eliminated, and replaced with a healthy vegan diet, body odor all but disappears and what remains is much more pleasant.
Bottom Line: Vegans smell better!
A vegan diet is healthy, nutritious, and good for the body, mind, and planet.
Cooking vegan food doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming. With a few fresh ingredients and some pantry staples you will soon be on your way to discovering a new and exciting way to eat.