While the word "vegan" has become synonymous with “healthy”, experts warn not all plant-based food products are healthy for us.
These days you'll find plenty of food products like dairy-free cheeses and veggie burgers that cater to the vegan lifestyle. However, experts warn to be mindful of the types of vegan foods you purchase. Some products labelled as 'vegan' can be full of mystery ingredients and calories that may have an impact on your health.
Even if you do follow a vegan diet, you can still consume a lot of sugar and fat. A vegan diet that consists of refined grains like white bread, sweetened drinks, chips and dairy-free ice cream is not healthy.
“While eating vegan can improve your health, there are plenty of ooey-gooey desserts, drinks and comfort foods out there that are packed with calories, saturated fat and sodium that don’t contain any meat or animal products," Sharon Palmer, a plant-based dietitian told a news portal. For some, switching to a vegan diet can even cause weight gain and health issues, according to Palmer.
A study conducted by a team from Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health investigated the association between plant-based diets and the risk of developing coronary heart disease. Close to200,000 people were involved in the study. Researchers tracked the participants for close to two decades. Their diets fell under four categories: plant foods over animal foods; a plant-based diet emphasising healthful plant foods; or an unhealthful plant-based diet.
The results showed that people who followed aplant-based diet were 32 per cent more likely to develop heart disease. The team warn not all plant foods have health benefits for our body. Instead of going completely vegan, Dr Hena Patel and Dr Kim Allan Williams Sr, cardiologists at Rush University Medical Centre in Chicago suggest choosing a few days in the week to be meatless.
The key is to include a hearty assortment of vegetables, grains, legumes and fruits in your diet to keep your body satisfied and energised.
The study's findings were originally published in the Journal Of The American College Of Cardiology.