20 Dec Vegan Nutrition
The health benefits of a high plant-based diet cannot be denied. Plant-based diets have been associated with lowered obesity, lower cardiovascular disease, lower cancer rates and lower blood pressure. This is due to plants being high in phytonutrients, antioxidants and fibre – all of which lower our risk of disease. Excluding animal-based products from the diet, however, can put you at risk of becoming deficient in several important nutrients, particularly vitamin B12, protein, zinc, choline, taurine and iron. So when embarking on a vegan lifestyle, it is advisable to work with a nutritionist to ensure your nutrient requirements are adequately covered.
Vegan diets contain minimal taurine, an amino acid found in animal tissue. Taurine is essential for healthy cardiovascular, muscular and nervous systems. Adults can produce taurine from the amino acids cysteine and methionine with the help of vitamin B6 and vitamin C. A vegan diet needs to be meticulously planned, particularly for growing children and pregnant women, to avoid becoming nutritionally deficient.
– Before starting a vegan diet you should consult your doctor, testing your iron levels is often advisable.
– Plan your approach with a nutritionist. This is especially important if you are pregnant.
– High plant-based diets help lower your risk of disease.
– Eat vitamin C-rich foods, such as oranges, capsicum, chillies, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, with other iron-rich foods such as legumes to increase iron absorption.
– Every meal should be a combination of grains and legumes to ensure adequate protein in the diet.
– Always include leafy greens and seasonal fruits.
– Plan carefully to ensure you are eating complementary proteins.
– Nutritional supplements may be required to support low iron, zinc, and vitamin B12 intake.
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With nutritionist Fiona Tuck