Is a Vegan Diet Healthy?
More and more people are turning to a vegan diet because it’s generally accepted as healthy. But is it really? Keep reading to find out the benefits of a vegan diet and how it can impact your health.
Willow serves vegan dishes with innovative preparations. Learn more below, and visit us today for dine-in, delivery, or takeout!
Health Benefits of a Vegan Diet
Here are five ways a vegan diet can benefit your health:
Rich in Nutrients
Many people have a hard time believing that you can get all the nutrients you need from eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other plants. But the truth is, plants are great sources of protein, calcium, iron, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
May Decrease Risk of Cancer
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, one in three cancers are linked to diet. But their research also shows that a vegan diet can lower your risk of developing cancer by 15%.
May Decrease Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
More than 100 million people in the United States have diabetes or are likely to develop it at some point in their life. Luckily, research from PLOS Medicine shows that following a vegan diet can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes by more than 33%.
May Decrease Risk of Heart Disease
A vegan diet is the definition of heart-healthy. According to a 2014 study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, vegans have a 42% lower risk of dying from heart disease. Vegans also lower their risk of high blood pressure by up to 75%!
May Decrease Risk of Obesity
Compared to other diets, people who eat a vegan diet have a lower body mass index or BMI. Of course, if you eat a lot of highly-processed vegan foods, it can lead to weight gain.
Are Supplements Necessary on a Vegan Diet?
No matter how you choose to eat, most diets lack some nutritional element. While a vegan diet can be healthy and rich in many vitamins and minerals, vegans may need to supplement with certain nutrients to avoid deficiencies:
- Vitamin B12 prevents nerve damage and protects the heart. It’s naturally found in dirt, and because animals eat dirt, it’s also found in animal products. Some vegan products are fortified with B12, but supplementation may be needed due to the body’s ability to absorb it.
- Vitamin K2 regulates calcium deposition. It ultimately reduces bone loss and the rate of osteoporosis. It’s only found in a few plant-based foods, specifically fermented foods like sauerkraut, kombucha, and kimchi.
- Iodine is important for healthy thyroid function. The only plant foods with high iodine levels are iodized salt and seaweed.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids can be broken down into three different types: ALA, EPA, and DHA. All three are critical to your health, but DHA is particularly important for your brain. Flax seeds and chia seeds are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Zinc is necessary for immune function and repairing cells. This mineral is present in beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds, but it may be difficult to absorb due to their phytate content.
A Word on Vegan Junk Food
Just because a food is vegan doesn’t automatically make it a healthy option. In fact, if you eat a lot of overly-processed vegan foods, it’s almost as bad as the Standard American Diet.
For example, let’s compare a regular hamburger with an Impossible Burger. The hamburger is full of cholesterol, saturated fat, heme iron, and other ingredients that may be harmful to your health. So in this case, the Impossible Burger is better for you. But if you compare it to a vegan bean burger made from whole foods, the Impossible Burger wouldn’t be the healthier option because it contains high amounts of salt, sugar, saturated fat, and other additives.
Although meat alternatives of your favorite junk foods are helpful when transitioning to a vegan diet or even for an occasional treat, a vegan diet that consists of mostly whole, plant foods is better for your long-term health.
Visit Willow in NYC!
A vegan diet is healthy when you make the right food choices. If you’d like to try some delicious vegan cuisine in NYC, stop by Willow today! Our restaurant at 199 8th Avenue serves vegan comfort food with upscale plating. You can also place pickup or delivery orders online! We look forward to serving you an outstanding meal.