Published Sept 26, 2020
Ethical and environmental benefits aside, the myriad of health benefits reaped by plant-based eaters are well documented. Including a lowered risk of cardiovascular disease, a protective effect against improved mood, improved digestion and weight loss.
Experts agree that a balanced, plant-based diet offers significant advantages for health. Last year, The Lancet, one of the world’s most well-regarded medical journals, endorsed a plant-based diet as the best choice for human and planetary health.
So, whether you go fully vegan or simply just incorporate more plant-based foods into your diet – the benefits are significant.
1. Supports digestion
Plant-based diets tend to involve more raw foods. This means those on a plant-based diet tend to benefit from a higher amount of digestive enzymes. Enzymes are important because they are central to the breakdown of food into smaller nutritional chunks our bodies can use.
Further to this, recent research carried out over 16 weeks concluded that a full-vegan diet can help to boost and balance our microbiome. The microbiome is made up of microorganisms that reside in the digestive tract. When properly balanced it can promote a healthy digestive tract, along with the immune system, bowel movements and metabolism. To keep the microbiome optimally balanced it needs a diverse range of antioxidant-, phytonutrient- and fibre-rich foods, all commonly found in a healthy vegan diet.
2. Loss of excess weight
Those following a plant-based diet often report to slow, steady and sustained healthy weight loss. How exactly? As yet, there is no definite answer, but a healthy plant-based diet likely includes less high-calorie foods. By eating plant-based, you are tapping into high-fibre alternatives that are low in calories and keep you feeling fuller for longer.
3. Richer in nutrients
In a healthy plant-based diet, meat and animal products are replaced for whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, peas, nuts and seeds which are full of nutrients.
Multiple studies report that vegan diets appear to be higher in fibre, antioxidants and beneficial plant compounds. They also tend to be richer in potassium, magnesium and vitamins A, C and E.
4. Less risk of certain cancers
Experts estimate that up to 75% of all cancers can be prevented by elements within your control, such as diet. A review of 96 studies explains that vegans may have a 15% lower risk of developing or dying from cancer, with many factors potentially contributing to this reduced risk:
- A regular intake of legumes such as beans, lentils, peas, chickpeas and soybeans could lower your risk of colorectal cancer by as much as 18% (remember to soak them overnight).
- High levels of oestrogen have been linked to breast cancer. A large study explains that oestrogen levels can be raised by animal fats. Vegans have much lower oestrogen levels, partly due to the lower fat content of a plant-based diet.
- Animal products have been linked to an increased risk of prostate, breast and colon cancer. Plant-based diets are devoid of smoked or processed meats and meats cooked at high temperatures, all of which are thought to promote certain types of cancers. Vegans do not consume dairy products, which some studies explain may increase the risk of prostate cancer.
5. Better mood
Studies show vegans are happier than meat-eaters. Amongst vast amounts of research, a 2014 study says the mood, depression, anxiety and stress levels of those eating a vegetarian diet are better than those of similar individuals eating an animal-based diet. Increasing the restriction of animal products even further by going from vegetarian to vegan is associated with even better results: in fact, vegans score higher on depression tests and mood profiles than people who eat animal products.
6. Lowered risk of heart disease
Research indicates that an overall plant‐based diet reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Healthy vegan diets, which are higher in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and beans, and contain low/no animal foods, are also linked to a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
While the benefits are clear – remember – all plant-based diets are not equal. While it’s a great time to be a plant-based eater, with wonderful new meat alternative products and fast-food options popping up daily. These exciting options must be eaten in moderation as part of a healthy, balanced plant-based diet. By relying solely on processed or fast foods that can be high in, sugar, fat and sodium, you could be missing out on the nourishing nutrients that are abundant in a well-rounded vegan diet.
To truly reap the health rewards, you must eat whole foods, ensure supplementation of B12, enjoy plant-based proteins with most meals and, as tempting as they are, keep vegan fast and processed foods for treat times.
Published Health & Wellness Writer | Nutritional Therapist Dip ION, BSC
I am a professional copywriter, with vast experience in marketing and communications in the field of nutrition and wellness. I have contributed to a number of leading publications, including Cosmopolitan, Woman’s Health, Veggie Magazine, Simply Vegan, Plantbased Mag, Natural health Magazine and Vegan Food & Living.
I have years of experience as a web content creator and marketing manager, for websites receiving over 100,000 monthly hits. I was solely responsible for SEO for this site and a number of others. I had responsibility for generating a weekly newsletter which had a nutritional focus.
My areas of interest are nutrition, wellness, sustainability and all things eco-friendly. I am an allrounder and enjoy all aspects of business such as building websites, SEO, business development and marketing.strategy.
Qualifications: I am a qualified Nutritional Therapist with a higher degree in Marketing and Management.