Foods You Can Incorporate In Your Vegan Diet
People have switched to a vegan diet for a reason. It promotes weight loss, lowers the risk of heart disease, reduces the level of cholesterol, protects yourself against certain types of cancer, and more. In fact, many business even specialize in providing vegan takeout since the diet has become so popular in recent years.
But since you rely on plants, the risk of nutrient deficiencies is higher than expected, especially when a vegan diet is not well-planned. The same thing happened to me. When most of my friends turned to a vegan diet, I gave it a shot right away without careful planning. So I ended up deficient in vitamin D, vitamin B12, zinc, omega-3 fatty acid, and iron. I did some research, and with the help of a nutritionist, I get the most out of a vegan diet.
Here are some of the foods nutritionists highly recommended:
Studies have shown that choline could play a significant role in maintaining the health of our nervous system, brain, and liver.
Research indicates that our body produces choline. But it is only available in a small amount, and a well-planned diet can come into play.
Choline is usually found in a variety of nuts, grains, fruits, veggies, and legumes. But there are other great choices, including quinoa, tofu, broccoli, soy milk, and cauliflower.
Experts say that the amount of choline in pregnant women, endurance athlete and postmenopausal women are low. Whatever your case may be, exert effort to consume choline-packed food regularly.
Meat, eggs, fish, and poultry are the traditional sources of protein. But people on a vegan diet avoid these protein sources.
Protein, however, is not something you cannot ignore. Protein has a lot of functions in our body. It increases muscle mass, boosts strength, keeps bone health in perfect shape, reduces cravings, increases the fat-burning effect, promotes metabolism, reduces blood pressure, and helps the body repair.
Legume is a good source of protein. If you do not like legumes, try peas, lentils, and beans. A cup of beans or peas consists of at least 10 grams of protein. Aside from protein, it is also rich in other essential nutrients, including iron, fiber, folate, antioxidants, zinc, and carbs.
Cereals and Whole Grains
Iron, vitamin B, selenium, fiber, carbs, phosphorus, and magnesium are crucial in a vegan diet. The top food sources are cereals and whole grains. Some of their varieties are also packed with protein. Teff and spelt, for example, contain around 11 grams of protein per cup, which is higher than rice and wheat. It is followed by quinoa and pseudocereals amaranth. Pseudocereals and whole grains, however, consist of varying levels of antinutrients, affecting the absorption of other nutrients. To reduce these antinutrients, sprouting is a smart idea.
Nuts and Seeds
Another good addition to a vegan diet is nut or seed. Studies suggested that 1 ounce of seeds and nuts consists of 5 or 12 grams of protein, making them an excellent alternative to traditional protein sources. Like the other foods in this list, seeds and nuts are rich in vitamin E, iron, magnesium, fiber, selenium, and zinc. What I love about nuts and seeds is that they are flexible. While some people eat them raw, you can include them in sauces, cheese, and desserts.
Plant foods offer fats, minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates, protein, and fiber. It is also good to note that any plant food is composed of antinutrients. How do they work? Antinutrients reduce the body’s ability to absorb these nutrients. Fermenting and sprouting can come into play. These methods do not only reduce antinutrients but also increase beneficial nutrients. That’s not all! The research found that sprouting reduces gluten in specific grains. Additionally, any fermented food is found to have a significant amount of probiotic bacteria, which is good for our digestion and immune system.
Chia, Flax, and Hemp Seeds
When searching for food rich in protein, any of these seeds will be your best bet. Hemp seeds, for instance, contain around 9 grams of digestible protein. It is also packed with omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. If you do not find edible hemp seeds, then you can easily substitute it with oil extracts which many a hemp company has on sale; use the oil to cook your food, and you should be getting most of the health benefits from it too!
On the other hand, flax and chia seeds are high in alpha-linolenic acid, which converts into docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid, responsible for the development or maintenance of our immune system.
Now you are aware of some foods you can include in your vegan diet. It is also worth asking for help from a licensed and experienced nutritionist!