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Vegans and Heart Disease: Two Dietary Components Vegans Need for a Healthy Heart

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Eating a vegan diet reduces the risk of heart disease – at least according to some studies. This isn’t surprising since feasting on a plant-based diet that’s high in fiber and low in saturated fat reduces cholesterol levels. Plants also contain natural chemicals like saponins, flavonoids and phytosterols that are heart-healthy. But vegans aren’t immune to heart disease – and most are missing two components in their diet that are important for a healthy heart.
Vegans and Heart Disease

A vegan diet is low in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12 – and no wonder. Vitamin B12 is found only in meat and dairy products, neither of which is part of a vegan diet. Low levels of vitamin B12 increase levels of homocysteine in the blood, which is linked with a greater risk of heart disease.

In addition, vitamin B12 deficiency can cause anemia and severe neurological damage that may be irreversible. A vitamin B12 deficiency doesn’t develop quickly since the liver can store it – but people who are vegans for years are at significant risk for low B12 levels.

Vegans get few omega-3 fatty acids in their diet since they’re mostly found in fatty fish, and vegans don’t eat fish. Studies show that omega-3s help to lower the risk of heart disease by reducing inflammation in blood vessels and by keeping platelets from clumping together to form clots. These „fishy oils“ also lower triglyceride levels and raise levels of HDL (the good cholesterol).

Another polyunsaturated fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA, can be converted to omega-3s, but this conversion is not very efficient. Walnuts, chia and flaxseed are good sources of ALA.

Supplements for Vegans for a Healthy Heart: The Bottom Line?

Vegans need omega-3s and vitamin B12 in their diet to help ward off heart disease. If you’re vegan, ask your doctor to check a B12 level. If it’s low, you may need monthly B12 injections. If not, take an oral B12 supplement to get the B12 that normally comes from eating meat and dairy products.

Omega-3s are a little more of a challenge to get from a vegan diet since they’re derived from fish. The best option is to increase the amount of ALA in your diet by eating more walnuts and flaxseed. This isn’t ideal since ALA isn’t readily converted to the omega-3s, so you’ll need several grams of ALA a day. To boost ALA, add two to three tablespoons of flaxseed to your cereal in the morning – and munch on a handful of walnuts.

Whatever you do, don’t ignore omega-3s and vitamin B12 if you’re vegan. You could pay for it with heart disease later.

References:

Nutra-ingredients.com. „Vegan Diet Requires Omega-3 and B12 Boost“

Journal of the American College of Nutrition. Volume 17. No. 5. 1998.

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Carnivore, Vegan, or Vegetarian: Which to Choose?

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„You could never go without eating meat forever!“ „How in the world do you get protein as a vegan or vegetarian?“ „Humans are carnivores-we need meat!“ How many of these wonderful statements have you heard before that BASH the name of vegans or vegetarians? Yeah, right. For one, have you met a caveman lately? If you are a caveman and you „need meat“, that’s fine, but I’m a human. I am not in desperate need of food. Cave men ate meat because they could not get the protein from plants or fruits. We, as humans, have access to these things (thank you, Wal-mart and other grocery stores of America).
Over time, evolution has taken place. We have evolved to our own environment. Let me ask you something: what do you need in order to eat meat? Teeth! Yes, we have teeth! But our teeth are blunt and dull. Do you really think that if we went out and killed a cow without even cooking it or anything, that we could chew it? Mother Nature works in mysterious ways.

This evolves the question: vegan or vegetarian? Are both of them good for you? Do you need to take vitamins/minerals? Which one is better? No, you don’t need meat. Yes, if you don’t eat meat, you must take B12, an essential vitamin that can only be found in meat. Not a big deal. Studies have shown that cutting out animal product can significantly lower health problems. Think about it! What are you eating when you eat meat? Sad, hormonal animals. Do you really think cows like dying? Do you really think your body likes hormones and antibiotics put into it? Yeah, don’t think so. Common sense, people!

Now that we’ve got that business down, let’s talk about which to choose. Vegetarians, yes, are usually more healthy than the average person, especially if the eat organically. But when you cut out not only meat, but DAIRY products (like cheese) your health risks go down significantly and your butt will probably become a size smaller too! Dairy products are JUST AS BAD AS MEAT! Same cows, same hormones.

Go vegan! Listen, all you gotta do is take one stinking vitamin! Yeah, yeah yeah, food prices are expensive. But isn’t your health (and your butt) more important? Duh! Vegetarian=alright. Vegan=AMAZING! Carnivore=Yeah, not really a smart choice.

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Beginner’s Guide to Veganism

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Veganism is a diet that does not allow the person to eat or use any product related to an animal. This includes dairy products such as milk and cheese, eggs, seafood, honey, leather, meat, wool, poultry and fur. The most common reasons for a person to become vegan is because of ethical reasons, moral conviction, the environment, health or religious reasons. The main reason for a lot of people to turn to veganism is the methods used in factory farming and animal testing.
Turning the veganism isn’t as hard as most people think. If a vegan diet is planned properly it can be very beneficial to a person’s overall health. However some poorly planned diets mean that a person can have low levels if calcium, iodine, vitamin b12 and vitamin d. It’s always advised that vegans take supplements to help with this.

As a starting point when starting veganism, Take your favourite meals and make them vegan. A good example of this could be Chilli, replace the meat with vegan mince, or even add different types of beans to make it a Bean Chilli. Try putting Soy milk on your coffees or on your cereals. Quorn has a variety of different vegan meat substitute products. Depending on if you agree with convenience food, you could purchase ready meals to help you get an idea of what kind of meals vegans can have. There are many versions of vegan burgers, seafood’s and chicken products. These can be useful if you are trying to transition your children, as they will most likely want to eat products they know.

If you live with people who aren’t vegan, ask for a space in the fridge where you can keep all your vegan foods. This will make it so much easier for you to find your foods without getting mixed up with non vegan equivalents. You can buy vegan cheese, soya milk, and dairy free butter. You can still enjoy all the things you ate before you were vegan; you just need to find some equivalent. Local health food stores have hundreds of products that are vegan. Find a good multi vitamin; ask your local pharmacist or doctor if they can recommend any good supplements for your new diet. Remember to drink lots of water. 64 ounces of water a day is recommended. This will help cleanse your body of all the toxins. And be very beneficial for your system.

Buy some vegan recipe books. There are hundreds on the internet. Try checking your local bookstore or Amazon. There are hundreds of recipes from all over the world that are vegan. Enjoy and explore your new lifestyle choice!

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