Nurses from across the US were recruited to try veganism and the results are astonishing
Nineteen nurses participated in a nutrition educational program by following a plant-based diet for 21 days. The aim was to improve their knowledge of plant-based nutrition and experience its benefits. They were encouraged to eat fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, pulses and nuts and seeds; cut out meat, seafood,dairy products and eggs and limit highly refined foods, such as white flour, oils and sugar.
As more and more plant milks are popping up, you may be wondering about their health benefits and how they compare to cow's milk. Veronika Powell explores the milky landscape
Firstly, let's have a proper look at what any milk actually is - a very watery liquid, around 90 per cent is always water. Therefore, any amount of nutrients it contains is more or less diluted and any health effects depend on how much of it you drink.
- Subtitle:It is time to shout it from the roof tops – going vegan is the most powerful tool we have to mend a broken heart.
Heart disease is almost entirely preventable and yet is one of the biggest killers in the UK - its victims becoming ever younger. But heart disease isn’t inevitable and Juliet Gellatley of Viva! explores how and why a vegan diet can defeat it
Heart disease and women
If you think heart attacks affect only the elderly, think again as its victims are becoming ever younger. Shockingly, it is young women who are now putting themselves at a higher risk of suffering a heart attack than any other group.
According to a new study published in May 2015, a low-fat vegan diet can reduce the pain associated with diabetic neuropathy (nerve pain frequently experienced by diabetics). In this pilot study, diabetics were either assigned to a low-fat vegan diet or to a control group with no diet change. Everyone was given a vitamin B12 supplement for the 20 weeks of the study and at the end, the vegan group achieved improved blood-sugar control with some patients needing to have their medication reduced.
A recently published analysis of 26 scientific studies on the effect of pulses (beans, chickpeas, lentils and peas) on cholesterol levels of mostly middle-aged people at risk of heart disease, revealed how good these little gems can be for you. Just one serving (130 grams) per day achieved a significant reduction in cholesterol. Regular pulse intake has also been shown to be beneficial in terms of weight control, improved sugar metabolism and lower blood pressure.
Just how much can a low-fat vegan diet improve your health? Quite a lot, it seems, as a recent large study shows. People who were either overweight and/or diabetic (type 2) were asked to follow a wholesome vegan diet for 18 weeks whilst they carried on with their normal lives. A control group (people with similar characteristics to those who were prescribed a vegan diet) changed nothing about their lifestyle but were followed for comparison.
One of the branches of the extensive EPIC-Oxford study focusing on lifestyle and various diseases produced exciting results. Data gained from over 44,000 people, each of them being followed for about 11 years were analysed. Compared with non-vegetarians, vegetarians had lower body weight, blood cholesterol and blood pressure. Overall, vegetarians had a 32 per cent lower risk of heart disease than non-vegetarians.
The results of a large scale, 25 year study of the Swedish population has revealed some interesting facts. The study began in 1986 and in the first seven years the fat intake and cholesterol levels of the participants slightly decreased in line with the dietary recommendations for reduced fat intake. However, from 2004 on, the scientists observed a significant change – the intake of fat, especially animal fat, increased, and so did the cholesterol levels.
There have been a number of studies investigating the effects of soya isolates (eg extracted soya protein) on human health but not so many using soya foods as they are normally eaten. A recent study did just that as it was aimed at investigating the effect of soya milk consumption on cholesterol levels in blood. High cholesterol is responsible for furred up arteries so it’s important to keep your cholesterol in check in order to stay healthy. Healthy young to middle-aged volunteers consumed soya milk daily for a period of 21 days.
A study looking at the diets of almost 800 middle-aged and elderly people clearly showed that vegetarians were at a much lower risk of metabolic syndrome – a bunch of health problems (such as high blood pressure, bad cholesterol, blood sugar, body weight and waist circumference) increasing the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease – than meat-eaters. A plant based diet was therefore recommended for maintaining good health.
According to a large-scale study published in Archives of Internal Medicine, fibre-rich foods reduce the risk of death from cardiovascular, infectious, and respiratory diseases. The study of 388,000 male and female Americans aged 50 to 71 also showed that frequent consumption of these foods can also decrease the overall risk of cancer. Whole grains were found to be most beneficial among fibre rich foods in this aspect. Fibre has also gained reputation for helping to stabilise blood pressure and cholesterol, and is therefore helpful for diabetics and heart patients.
Are eggs really that high in cholesterol or are they actually a healthy food? The authors of an article published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology warn that the amount of cholesterol in one egg (a single large egg yolk contains approximately 275 milligrams) exceeds the maximum recommended daily amount. The amount is 200 milligrams for people at risk of cardiovascular disease but as the article says cutting down on cholesterol when you already have health problems might be too late.
Walnuts can help improve the balance of fats in the blood according to new research in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In this study, 87 people with normal to moderately high cholesterol levels supplemented their diet with walnuts (12 per cent of total daily energy intake, around 17 walnut halves per day) everyday for six months. The beneficial effect was most significant in participants with high cholesterol levels.
New research from the Journal of Nutrition shows that soya foods can lower cholesterol levels in people with type 2 diabetes. They found that 40 grams of soya protein per day for 57 days significantly reduced cholesterol, compared to milk protein. Lead researcher Dr Alison Duncan said: “This study provides evidence for soya as a dietary preventive strategy for adults with type 2 diabetes to reduce their cardiovascular disease risk and, in so doing, improve their quality, and possibly length, of life.”
Studies show that vegetarians have a lower risk of dementia, new research may explain why. This new study from the US found that a high cholesterol level in midlife was associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Even borderline cholesterol levels of 5.2 in midlife raised the risk of late-life dementia by 50 per cent. Two out of three adults in the UK have a cholesterol level of five or above. However, the good news is you can lower your cholesterol by going veggie.
A traditional Mediterranean diet with a daily serving of mixed nuts may help manage a range of risk factors linked to heart disease. A Spanish study of over 1,000 older adults found that a Mediterranean diet enriched with 30 grams a day of nuts (three of each of the following: almonds, Brazils, cashews, walnuts and pistachios) could help control abdominal fat, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and high blood sugar. Nuts are a good source of fibre, arginine (an essential amino acid), potassium, calcium and magnesium.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients may be able to reduce their high risk of heart disease and stroke with a gluten-free vegan diet say researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. 38 volunteers with RA, following the test diet for one year, showed a significant drop in their levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol compared to a control group eating a non-vegan low-fat wholegrain diet. RA affects around 350,000 people in the UK.