SEATTLE, Wash.,-- In the new year, many of us consider lifestyle changes, possibly new diets. With plant-based diets growing in popularity, a lot of people are jumping on board the vegan train. So, is the move to meatless is really better for your health?
The vegan diet stems from a strict vegetarian diet. A person on this diet will not consume any animal-type products like milk, cheese butter or eggs.
A new study published in The Journal of Nutrition seems to support the claim that vegans are healthier.
Dr. Oliveira, the executive medical director with Regence BlueShield says there are pros to going vegan, “That’s been well documented, you know lower cholesterol rates, your weight management is better, lower instances of diabetes.”
The study shows vegans had higher levels of Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants in their blood and lower levels of saturated fats. Dr. Oliveira says other vital nutrients could be missing, “How are you gonna get enough calcium in your diet to remain healthy?”
He says often times, vegans can have a hard time getting nutrients like calcium, B12 and iron, but it’s not impossible!
“Iron is really important for your blood cells and everything else so making sure you’re having a diet that is rich in iron, so that could be kale and other green leafy vegetables.”
Dr. Oliveira says it is important to not limit your protein source to just soy, which is commonly used in vegetarian diets, “You can’t just do one thing.”
So it might just take a little extra effort and maybe some extra eating of protein sources like quinoa, nuts, beans and legumes to be a healthy vegan.
“You can get there but it may feel like you are eating all the time to get to it.”
And often times, what’s easy to grab, are processed or refined foods. Which doesn’t necessarily mean this is a “diet” where you will actually lose a lot of weight, “You will fill yourself up so you won’t want to eat any more and then you may miss out on getting some of iron and other pieces that you’re gonna need.”
Balance is key, just like with anything. So Dr. Oliveira says going vegan could lead to a healthier lifestyle as long as you are checking all of the nutrient boxes.
As for what kind of lifestyle or diet Doctors recommend in 2020, Dr. Oliveira says they opt for the Mediterranean diet because it has been studied extensively, and meets their requirements.
He also says they also stand behind a pure vegetarian diet that provides adequate nutrients.