healthy vegan diet
by Ali Berman
Categories: Eats, Healthy Living, Lifestyle, Vegan.

Anyone who hasn’t noticed the ever-increasing number of studies that show how meat and dairy increase one’s chances of developing a variety of serious health problems just isn’t paying attention. Whether is Bill Clinton advocating for a plant based diet to fight heart disease or Dr. Oz turning a cowboy vegan to reverse his Type 2 Diabetes, the data all points to fruits and veggies as powerful preventative medicine.

Here are four health problems a plant based diet can help prevent or even reverse. Now, each time you eat your delicious veg meals, you can think to yourself crisis averted.

1. Heart Disease

Don’t just take Bill Clinton’s word for it. The American Dietetic Association (ADA) also sings the praises of a plant based diet to prevent or even reverse heart disease. CNN’s resident physician Dr. Sanjay Gupta notably declared that a vegan diet makes the human heart “heart-attack proof.” What makes a vegetarian or vegan diet so adept at maintaining a healthy heart? PCRM writes on their website, “Vegetarian diets also help prevent heart disease. Animal products are the main source of saturated fat and the only source of cholesterol in the diet. Vegetarians avoid these risky products.”

2. High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure can start or be worsened by a diet high in salt, fat, cholesterol and by eating too many calories. Thankfully, a vegan diet tends to be low in all of those things. Although you certainly can consume a bunch of salt, it’s pretty difficult to load saturated fat and cholesterol into a plant based diet. Live Strong reports that a “vegetarian diet that is high in a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes that are prepared in a healthy way can help to bring high blood pressure numbers down or prevent high blood pressure from developing.” And of course a whole bunch of studies back up the info including one dating back to the early nineteen hundreds. The ADA lists lower blood pressure as a perk of the diet. Want numbers? Check out this study discussed on The Vegetarian Resource Group.

3. Type 2 Diabetes

Studies show that a vegan diet helps to prevent Type 2 Diabetes, and, miraculously, can even help to reverse the condition. A few years ago PCRM’s study showed that a low fat plant based diet was more successful at preventing Type 2 Diabetes than the diet recommended by the American Diabetes Association. PCRM writes, “Forty-three percent of the vegan group and 26 percent of the ADA group reduced their diabetes medications. Among those whose medications remained constant, the vegan group lowered hemoglobin A1C, an index of long-term blood glucose control, by 1.2 points, three times the change in the ADA group.” Perhaps our favorite real-life turn around story comes from Dr. Oz and the Texas cowboy he turned vegan for 28 days. What a transformation!

But if you want more data, Live Strong has this to say: “Research by scientists at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami in Florida and published in “Ethnicity and Disease” in 2003 discovered that the prevalence of diabetes is lower among long-term vegetarians.”

4. Various Types of Cancer

Whether it’s breast cancer, colon cancer or prostate cancer, a vegan diet has the scientific data behind it to show that it works as preventative care. Kathy Freston writes on the findings of T. Colin Campbell’s The China Study, “In fact, these findings indicate that the vast majority perhaps 80 to 90% of all cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and other forms of degenerative illness can be prevented, at least until very old age, simply by adopting a plant-based diet.” Bill Clinton cited The China Study when he gave up meat and dairy. Campbell isn’t alone in his findings. Live Strong reports, “According to a study published in the December 2008 issue of “Urology,” men with early-stage prostate cancer were able to avoid or delay conventional treatment by consuming low-fat, plant-based diets, engaging in exercise and reducing their stress levels.”

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While we discuss four benefits to dropping the animal products from your diet here, it really is just the beginning. Whether it’s weighing less, lower cholesterol or a lower risk of hypertension, a healthy plant based diet really can do it all. One word of advice: stick to whole foods like nuts, whole grains, fruits and veggies. Potato chips may be vegan, but it doesn’t mean they are good for you.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

About Ali Berman

Ali Berman is the author of Choosing a Good Life: Lessons from People Who Have Found Their Place in the World (Hazelden) and Misdirected (Seven Stories Press). She works as a humane educator for HEART teaching kids about issues affecting people, animals and the environment. Her published work can be found on her website at aliberman.com. In early 2012 Ali co-founded flipmeover, a production company with the mission to use media to raise awareness of social issues.

View all posts by Ali Berman →
  • ApeGirl April

    The way to go is high carb raw vegan, aka ‘the 80 10 10 diet’ by Dr Doug Graham (though it’s really a foodstyle, not a diet). It’s around 3000+ calories a day from sweet juicy fruits like mango, papaya, bananas, dates, cherimoya, passionfruit, rambutan, dragonfruit, persimmon, you name it; as well as tender vegetables. 30bananasaday.com is a good place to find out more, as well as the youtube’s of FullyRawKristina and FoodnSport. We are humans, primates, frugivores.

  • Omnivore

    Absolute rubbish. A vegan diet is not natural as humans evolved eating meat, eggs, fish, plants, and nuts & fruit in season. We need a balanced and varied diet to get all nutrition we need. Vegans are likely to take supplements or have some vitamin/mineral deficiencies.

  • KG

    NOT RUBBISH!!! Listen to me, I have been a VEGAN for 3 years
    and in that time I have seen all and I mean all of my problems disappear. That
    includes Heart Disease, Kidney Disease and Prostate problems. There is
    something to it. Period!! I wish I had
    started the life style sooner and not in my fifties.

  • Lisa Maxstadt

    >>>A vegan diet is not natural as humans evolved eating meat…<<<
    Yeah, sure, and planet Earth is as flat as a disk, and anyone who says that it is round like a globe is a liar.
    What century are you living in, Omnivore? In the age of ignorance, fact-denial and "…burn the scientist – umm, the witch!". That much is for sure.
    I hate to break it to you, but – really – for the rest of us (smart people, I would like to add) it is the year 2012, and we all know that being willfully uninformed, in this time and age, is a *personal choice*. So, quite obviously, YOU choose to be stupid.
    Why? Do you think it makes you look good?
    Trust me. It does not. Actually, it makes you look like a fool who cannot even get his facts (huh, careful, FACTS!) straight before posting.
    I am not blaming you for quite clearly not knowing *anything* about nutrition and veganism. But I blame you for spreading *your* rubbish as if you just had decoded the miracle of life.
    I have been a vegan for nearly 15 years. I get my blood checked twice a year. I have *never ever* had any deficiencies.

  • nick

    a vegan diet wont save you.. you have to cut out bad oils and guess what? wheat and grains.. not so good for you.. i was once a vegan and it felt good.. but if your gonna eat breat and salad dressing made with canola oil youre worse off.. also different diets work for different people.. and i wouldnt take any advice from the ADA or CNN .. let alone Bill Clinton.. important docs.. Wheat is murder, The oiling of America.. btw.. the white matter in your brain is %75 cholesterol and a horse can eat salt its entire life and have a balanced blood pressure.. we do live in the age of ignorance and information.. and there is an agenda behind almost everything.. do your research .. its easy to feel emotional about animal abuse etc and so on.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=660422544 Tia Haenni

    I would just like to point out that high blood pressure is a symptom, not a disease. In addition, this list really should include inflammation. Literally hundreds of ailments, diseases, conditions and afflictions are the result of inflammation. This inflammation is drastically reduced by a vegan diet. The vegan diet is the human diet. We do not thrive on meat, period.

  • tplvth

    I’ve been a vegan for 20 years and I have no health issues. We are not supposed to be drinking cows milk! That has a bee the LIE of the century! And it’s not natural to be eating meat injected with chemicals, hormones, antibiotics. Cows don’t eat grass anymore so whatever nutrients and vitamins they may have had no longer exist. It is all fortified. Another LIE. So Where do you think they got all the vitamins and nutrients you meat eaters think we don’t get?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marta-Falco-Ainley/100000212236545 Marta Falco Ainley

    eating meat makes a person responsible for such a great deal of terrible cruelty to animals. I am 67 now, very healthy and haven’t eaten meat sine I was 14 yrs old. I am also a vegan now and that again means I am not responsible for the terrible cruelty done to dairy cattle . And all that horrific factory farming and slaughter. If you don’t mind all that then chomp away like a mindless person. Get out of that vile habit and become vegan. it’s so easy and far far healthier.