At the end of last year, results of a study looking into the nutrient intake of Danish vegans were published. The study analysed the diets of 70 adult vegans and compared them with the dietary intake of the general population.
Vitamins and Minerals
Everybody needs a regular source of vitamin B12: for vegans this means a supplement or sufficient fortified foods in their diet. However, despite all the warnings, vegans may actually have an advantage over meat and dairy-eaters when it comes to this important vitamin…
Vitamin B12 is involved in many important functions. It helps make red blood cells and keeps the nervous system healthy. A deficiency can lead to serious problems, especially in the young.
New study shows how a healthy vegan diet can cut your risk of type 2 diabetes in half
This was the first study to distinguish not just between animal and plant-based diets but also between healthy and unhealthy plant-based diets. Healthy foods included wholegrains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, pulses, vegetable oils, tea and coffee; whilst unhealthy foods included animal products, fruit juices, sweetened beverages, refined grains (white bread, cornflakes etc.), potatoes, sweets and desserts.
Based on a study following 198 patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD), a low-fat, wholesome vegan diet can literally save your life. Of the 198 patients with CVD, 177 adhered to the diet principles (followed on average for 3.7 years) which were for wholegrains, pulses (lentils, beans, soya, peas, chickpeas), vegetables and fruit to form the major portion of the diet. Participants were also encouraged to take a multivitamin and vitamin B12 supplement and advised to use of flax seed meal as an additional source of omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids.
Eating plenty of plant compounds called flavonoids can help prevent type 2 diabetes, according to new research published in The Journal of Nutrition. A study of almost 2,000 people found that high intake of these dietary compounds is associated with lower insulin resistance and better blood sugar regulation and also with lower inflammation (crucial for reducing damage by conditions such as obesity, cardiovascular disease and cancer). Four or more portions of flavonoid-rich foods a day made a significant difference.
A study of almost 72,000 people and their diets has brought very reassuring results. It examined the nutrient intake of people who belonged to one of these groups: non-vegetarian, semi-vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian, lacto-ovo vegetarian and strict vegetarian (people who don’t eat meat, fish, eggs and dairy products at all or less than once per month). Average protein and vitamin B12 intake was similar in all groups.
One of the most annoying and most repeated myths about plant-based diets is: ‘If you don’t eat meat, you won’t get enough iron and you’ll become anaemic!’ A new study confirmed that vegetarians eating a healthy, varied diet are not at any greater risk of iron deficiency anaemia than meat-eaters but also revealed that contrary to what most people think, meat-eaters get less than just 20 per cent of their iron from meat while almost half of their iron intake (45 per cent) comes from cereals and cereal products.
New research from the University of Cambridge shows strong links between vitamin C levels and the risk of stroke. This study measured vitamin C levels in blood samples taken from over 20,000 people over nine years. Results showed that those with the highest levels had a 42 per cent lower risk of stroke compared to those with the lowest. This doesn’t mean you should take supplements – vitamin C in found in abundance in fresh fruit and vegetables.
Brazil nuts are a rich source of selenium but until now no studies have investigated how available this mineral is for us to use (bioavailability). Researchers from the University of Otago in Dunedin in New Zealand found that consuming just two Brazil nuts a day for 12 weeks increased the amount of selenium in the blood by over 60 per cent. The authors of this study concluded that including Brazil nuts in the diet could avoid the need for supplements.
New research suggests that vitamin C may reduce some of the health problems associated with diabetes. Vitamin C is an antioxidant – one of the ‘good guys’ that goes around the body mopping up damaging molecules called free radicals. Diabetics produce more free radicals which is why they are more susceptible to tissue damage leading to amputations, heart disease and blindness. The authors stress that they would not encourage people to start taking vitamin C supplements.
By Amanda Woodvine
The number of people who make it past the 100-years-old mark (centenarians) is increasing.
Researchers from the Netherlands have shown that supplementing the diet with folic acid can help boost brain power in the over-50s. In this three-year study, those taking 800 micrograms of folic acid per day performed significantly better in a range of mental agility tests than those taking a placebo.