Benefits of a Vegan diet

Benefits
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::::::Foods to Eat
Health-conscious vegans substitute animal products with plant-based replacements, such as:

Tofu, tempeh and seitan: These provide a versatile protein-rich alternative to meat, fish, poultry and eggs in many recipes.
Legumes: Foods such as beans, lentils and peas are excellent sources of many nutrients and beneficial plant compounds. Sprouting, fermenting and proper cooking can increase nutrient absorption (34Trusted Source).
Nuts and nut butters: Especially unblanched and unroasted varieties, which are good sources of iron, fiber, magnesium, zinc, selenium and vitamin E (35Trusted Source).
Seeds: Especially hemp, chia and flaxseeds, which contain a good amount of protein and beneficial omega-3 fatty acids (36, 37, 38).
Calcium-fortified plant milks and yogurts: These help vegans achieve their recommended dietary calcium intakes. Opt for varieties also fortified with vitamins B12 and D whenever possible.
Algae: Spirulina and chlorella are good sources of complete protein. Other varieties are great sources of iodine.
Nutritional yeast: This is an easy way to increase the protein content of vegan dishes and add an interesting cheesy flavor. Pick vitamin B12-fortified varieties whenever possible.
Whole grains, cereals and pseudocereals: These are a great source of complex carbs, fiber, iron, B-vitamins and several minerals. Spelt, teff, amaranth and quinoa are especially high-protein options (39, 40, 41, 42).
Sprouted and fermented plant foods: Ezekiel bread, tempeh, miso, natto, sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi and kombucha often contain probiotics and vitamin K2. Sprouting and fermenting can also help improve mineral absorption (34Trusted Source, 43Trusted Source).
Fruits and vegetables: Both are great foods to increase your nutrient intake. Leafy greens such as bok choy, spinach, kale, watercress and mustard greens are particularly high in iron and calcium.

:::::Risks and How to Minimize Them
Favoring a well-planned diet that limits processed foods and replaces them with nutrient-rich ones instead is important for everyone, not only vegans.

That said, those following poorly planned vegan diets are particularly at risk of certain nutrient deficiencies.

In fact, studies show that vegans are at a higher risk of having inadequate blood levels of vitamin B12, vitamin D, long-chain omega-3s, iodine, iron, calcium and zinc (44Trusted Source, 45Trusted Source, 46Trusted Source, 47Trusted Source, 48Trusted Source, 49Trusted Source, 50Trusted Source, 51Trusted Source, 52Trusted Source, 53Trusted Source, 54Trusted Source, 55Trusted Source, 56Trusted Source).

Not getting enough of these nutrients is worrisome for everyone, but it may pose a particular risk to those with increased requirements, such as children or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Your genetic makeup and the composition of your gut bacteria may also influence your ability to derive the nutrients you need from a vegan diet.

One way to minimize the likelihood of deficiency is to limit the amount of processed vegan foods you consume and opt for nutrient-rich plant foods instead.

Fortified foods, especially those enriched with calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12, should also make a daily appearance on your plate.

Furthermore, vegans wanting to enhance their absorption of iron and zinc should try fermenting, sprouting and cooking foods (34Trusted Source).

Also, the use of iron cast pots and pans for cooking, avoiding tea or coffee with meals and combining iron-rich foods with a source of vitamin C can further boost iron absorption (57).

Moreover, the addition of seaweed or iodized salt to the diet can help vegans reach their recommended daily intake of iodine (58).

Lastly, omega-3 containing foods, especially those high in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), can help the body produce longer-chain omega-3s such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Foods high in ALA include chia, hemp, flaxseeds, walnuts and soybeans. However, there’s debate regarding whether this conversion is efficient enough to meet daily needs (59Trusted Source, 60Trusted Source).

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