The vegan diet has recently experienced an increase in popularity. It includes grains, pulses, legumes, vegetables, fruits and nuts. It excludes poultry, fish, meat, eggs and dairy products. A vegan diet is associated with many health benefits as it has a higher content of dietary fibre with various vitamins and minerals like Vitamin C, potassium and magnesium. Studies have shown that it possesses various health benefits including lower rates of obesity, high blood pressure and reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases. It also reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancers. Vegan diets tend to be lower in omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, zinc, Vitamin D and Vitamin B12. Risk of bone fracture and lower bone mineral density may be a concern because of an inadequate intake of calcium and Vitamin D. It takes good planning and understanding to get enough protein, calcium, iron, zinc, omega 3 fatty acids, Vitamin D and Vitamin B 12 from foods or supplements. Here are simple diet tips Vegans should keep in mind.
Eat a rainbow: Include a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet as they are low in calories and high in fibre which keeps you fuller throughout the day. Opt for spinach, zucchini, dark green leafy vegetables in daily meals. Include salads in your diet, you can go for stir-fried vegetables or raw salads. Choose fresh fruit for desserts which are packed with fibre and helps to keep a watch on calories.
Choose whole grains: Make your meals with whole grains like oatmeal, quinoa, barley, whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, brown rice. They are packed with proteins, adds iron and B Vitamins to a vegan diet. The high fibre content will keep you full for a longer period of time and may even help you to lose weight.
Include a good amount of proteins: Most meals like pulses, lentils, beans such as kidney beans, chickpeas, tofu, grains like oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice. Are rich in protein. Protein is important to build muscles and to keep red blood cells healthy. They are good alternatives to milk and dairy products and keep you satisfied.
Focus on Omega 3 fatty acids: They are vital for a healthy heart, eye and brain development. Vegans should include flax seeds, flax seeds oil, canola oil, soybeans, tofu, walnuts in order to maximize omega 3 fatty acids need.
Include iron-rich foods: Iron helps to carry oxygen to different parts of the body. Vegans should choose iron-rich foods to meet their needs. Include green leafy vegetables like spinach, broccoli, kale, soy and soy products, millet, beans like kidney beans, chickpeas, watermelon and some nuts and seeds like almonds, sesame and pumpkin seeds. For better absorption of iron, include Vitamin C rich foods like oranges, kiwi, grapefruit, lemon.
Choose Vitamin B 12 rich foods: It is important for making RBC and helps the body to use fats. It aids in brain function. Include fortified Vitamin B12 cereals, soy milk, rice milk. Red Star nutritional yeast is also a good option for Vegans.
Emphasize on Vitamin D fortified foods: It is vital for calcium absorption and beneficial for stronger bones and teeth. Vegans should include Vitamin D fortified foods like soy milk, orange juice and almond milk.
Pump up your Calcium: Include dark green vegetables like broccoli, spinach, kale. Millet like Ragi is also a good source. Calcium-fortified soy milk, orange juice, tofu should be included. Almonds and figs are commonly eaten by Vegans.
Don’t forget about Zinc: It is important for growth and development and to boost the immune system. Vegans should include dried beans, lentils, whole grains, soy and soy products like tofu. Fortified cereals and soy products can also be included. Pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds are good sources for zinc.