Vegan diets are renowned for helping people lose weight.
But weight loss isn’t the only benefit when it comes to eating a vegan diet.
In fact you’ll be pleasantly surprised or even shocked at the incredible benefits that switching to a vegan diet has.
To start with, a vegan diet may help you maintain good heart health.
What’s more, its thought that this diet may offer some protection against type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.
Lets jump in and find out 6 science based health benefits of being vegan.
1. It can help you reach your weight loss goals
More and more people are cutting out meat and dairy and instead turning to a plant based diet in the hope of losing weight and reaching their weight loss goals.
Many observational studies show that vegans tend to be thinner and have lower body mass indexes (BMIs) than non-vegans.
In one study, participants who followed a vegan diet lost 9.3 lbs (4.2 kg) more than a control diet over a period of 18 weeks.
It was found that the participants on the vegan diet who were allowed to eat until they were full lost more weight than those who we’re on a calorie-restricted diets.
Plant based foods are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties helping you reduce water retention and inflammation.
2. Vegan diets are richer in certain nutrients
When you switch to a whole foods vegan diet you are eliminating all meat and dairy products and instead consuming whole grains, legumes, fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Since you will be consuming a lot more of these nutrient rich whole plant foods, this can contribute to a higher daily intake of certain beneficial nutrients.
Studies have reported that vegan diets tend to provide more fiber, antioxidants and beneficial plant compounds. They also appear to be richer in potassium, magnesium, folate and vitamins A, C and E.
It is important to plan your vegan diet correctly to ensure you are getting sufficient amounts of essential vitamins and minerals.
That’s why it is important to eat a whole foods vegan diet and avoid consuming processed, unhealthy fast foods.
3. Can lower blood sugar levels and improve kidney function
It is found that vegans tend to have lower blood sugar levels , higher insulin sensitivity and a 50%-78% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Studies have shown that vegan diets have lowered blood sugar levels more than diets from the American Diabetes Association, National Cholesterol Education program and American Heart Association. Sources – 1, 2, 3, 4.
In another study, 43% of people who followed a vegan diet were able to reduce the amount of bloody sugar medication they took compared to 26% in the group that followed an ADA-recommended diet.
4. Lower risk of heart disease
Higher consumption of fruit, vegetables, legumes and fiber is linked to lower risk of developing heart disease.
When you follow a whole food vegan diet you will generally consume a lot more of these foods than you would on any other diet.
One study reports that vegans may have a 42% lower risk of dying from heart disease.
Another study that compared vegans to vegetarians found that people who followed a vegan diet may have a 75% lower risk of developing high blood pressure.
Vegans also tend to consume more whole grains and nuts which a also great for heart health.
5. May protect against certain cancers
World health organization has said that around one third of all cancers can be prevented by things you can control, and this includes your diet.
One study suggests that eating up to 7 portions of fruit and vegetables per day can lower your risk of dying from cancer by up to 15%.
Eating certain animal products may pose a higher risk of developing prostate, breast and colon cancers.
Vegans tend to consume a lot more legumes, fruit and vegetables.
This could be why a recent review of 96 studies found that vegans may reduce their risk of developing or dying from certain cancers by 15%.
6. May reduce arthritis pain
There have been studies that reported that a vegan diet may reduce arthritis pain and have positive affects on people with arthritis.
Over 6 weeks one study had 40 arthritic participants to either continue eating their omnivorous diet or eat to a whole-food, plant-based vegan diet.
Those on the vegan diet reported higher energy levels and better general functioning than those who didn’t change their diet.
Two other studies looked at the effects of a diet rich in probiotics, and raw plant foods and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
Both studies reported that participants who ate the vegan diet experienced improvement in symptoms such as pain, joint swelling and morning stiffness than those who continued their omnivorous diet. Sources 1, 2.
There is a significant amount of evidence proving the different benefits of following a vegan diet.
The key to having success and hopefully reaching optimal health on a plant based diet is to plan it well and base your diet around whole, healthy plant based foods and avoid processed foods that hold very little nutritional value.
Need help getting started on a plant based diet? Or reaching your health and weight loss goals?