I have always been amazed at how strongly vegans react when I post the health and body-related benefits of a plant-based diet here on I Nourish Gently. Some of the facts, though backed by scientific evidence are very hard for them to accept and perceive as possible. I often get comments like this:
‘You are giving a bad name on veganism with your pseudoscience.’
And this is despite the fact that there is always a study quoted or mentioned to back up the claims given.
I believe that even if you are vegan purely for ethical reasons (this is how I started my journey), knowing the health advantages of this lifestyle can also be a positive thing. I also believe it is the best form of vegan activism, because most people care about their health, and this is what they can very strongly relate to. An ex-boyfriend of mine had reduced meat in his diet purely for health reasons, and as long as animals were saved – I was still happy, it was still a better decision than what he used to do – have a portion of meat with almost every meal.
So, if you are vegan and still thinking that a plant-based diet is no healthier than a carnivorous diet, or that it doesn’t matter, here are
16 Studies And Their Outcomes That May Change Your Mind
The important thing to note here is that these are controlled studies – the gold standard in scientific research — to evaluate how a vegan diet can affect your health.
Details: Thirty obese children with high cholesterol levels and their parents were recruited for the study. Each pair was randomly assigned to follow either a vegan diet or an American Heart Association (AHA) diet for 4 weeks.
Both groups attended weekly classes and cooking lessons specific to their diet.
Results: Total calorie intake significantly decreased in both diet groups.
Children and parents following the vegan diet consumed less protein, cholesterol, saturated fat, vitamin D and vitamin B12, and they consumed more carbs and fiber than those in the AHA group.
Children following the vegan diet lost 6.7 lbs (3.1 kg) over the four-week study period, which was 197% more than those in the AHA group.
Children in the vegan group reduced their systolic blood pressure, total and LDL cholesterol levels, whereas those in the AHA groups didn’t.
At the end of the study, children following the vegan diet had significantly lower BMIs than those following the AHA diet.
Parents in the vegan groups had 0.16% lower hemoglobin A1C levels, which are used as a measure of blood sugar control, as well as lower total and LDL cholesterol levels than those on the AHA diet.
Those parents also lost 3.5 lbs (1.6 kg) more than parents on the AHA diet. However, the difference wasn’t large enough to reach statistical significance.
Conclusions: Both diets lowered heart disease risk in children and adults. However, the vegan diet more greatly affected the children’s weight and the parents’ cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Details: 291 participants were recruited from 10 GEICO corporate offices. Each office was paired with another, and employees from each paired site were randomized to either a low-fat vegan diet or a control diet for 18 weeks.
Participants in the vegan group were provided weekly support group classes led by a dietitian. They took a daily vitamin B12 supplement and were encouraged to favor low-glycemic index foods.
Participants in the control group made no dietary changes and didn’t partake in weekly support group sessions.
Results: The vegan group consumed more fiber and less total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol than the control group.
Participants who completed the 18-week study lost 9.5 lbs (4.3 kg) if they were in the vegan group, compared to 0.2 lbs (0.1 kg) if they were in the control group.
Total and LDL cholesterol levels dropped by 8 mg/dL in the vegan group, compared to almost no change in the control groups.
HDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels both increased more in the vegan groups than in the control.
Blood pressure fell slightly in both groups. Hemoglobin A1C levels dropped by 0.7% in the vegan group, compared to 0.1% in the control group.
Conclusions: Participants in the vegan groups lost more weight. They also improved their blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels compared to those following a control diet.
Details: 64 overweight, post-menopausal women were recruited. Each woman was randomly assigned to follow either a low-fat vegan or a low-fat control diet based on the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) guidelines for 14 weeks.
No calorie restrictions were used, and both groups were encouraged to eat until they were full. Participants prepared their own meals and attended weekly nutritional support groups for the duration of the study.
Results: Despite no overt calorie restriction, both groups consumed around 350 fewer calories per day. The vegan group consumed less dietary protein, fat and cholesterol and more fiber than the NCEP diet group.
Participants in the vegan group lost an average of 12.8 lbs (5.8 kg), compared to 8.4 lbs (3.8 kg) in those following the NCEP diet. Changes in BMI and waist circumference were also greater in the vegan groups.
Blood sugar levels, fasting insulin and insulin sensitivity improved significantly for all.
Conclusions: Both diets improved markers of blood sugar control.
However, the low-fat vegan diet helped overweight, post-menopausal women lose more weight than the low-fat NCEP diet.
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