One of the most common questions vegans get asked is “why did you go vegan?” While many vegans adopt a cruelty-free lifestyle for ethical reasons, a growing number of people are turning to a vegan diet for its health benefits. Eating a plant-based diet is one of the healthiest things you can do for your body—and there’s plenty of research to back that up! Here are five health benefits of a vegan diet that will make you want to fill your plates with plants.
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A Vegan Diet Protects Against Cancer
Did you know that one in three cancers are linked to diet? While that statistic may seem scary or even shocking, it also means that you have more control than you think when it comes to cancer prevention. And some studies have shoe that a vegan diet may help! Research shows that following a vegan diet can lower your risk of developing cancer by 15%. It’s all because of what you put on (and leave off) your plate.
Here are just some of the ways going vegan can help you fight back against cancer:
- Consuming seven servings of fruits and vegetables a day may reduce the risk of cancer by 15%
- Eating beans, lentils and other legumes regularly may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by 9-18%
- Women who average one cup of soy milk or about a ½ cup of tofu daily reduce their risk of developing breast cancer by 30%
- Not eating meat and processed meats, which the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared carcinogenic to humans in 2015, may reduce certain types of cancer
- Ditching dairy, which is linked to increase rates of prostate cancer, may also reduce your risk
While there’s no guarantee that a vegan diet can prevent cancer, these studies seem to suggest some benefit. As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
A Vegan Diet is Good for Your Brain
Most people believe that cognitive and mental decline is a part of getting older—but it doesn’t have to be! Lifestyle choices, including your diet, can help protect your brain and keep it firing on all cylinders into your golden years.
A vegan diet brings a whole new meaning to “brain food.” While saturated and trans fats found in dairy products, meats and fried foods can increase the risk for cognitive decline, a vegan diet can protect the brain. Foods rich in vitamin E, like berries, nuts, seeds, leafy greens and whole grains, are particularly beneficial when it comes to boosting your brain health.
A Vegan Diet is Heart Healthy
Here’s a fact that will get your heart racing: every 36 seconds someone dies from cardiovascular or heart disease in the United States, making it the leading cause of death. So, what is heart disease? Heart disease is a term used to refer to heart conditions that specifically affect the blood vessels and arteries. The most common forms of heart disease include heart attacks, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), arrhythmia (abnormal heart beat) and heart failure.
You were probably taught from a young age that smoking and other lifestyle factors can increase your risk for developing heart problems, including your diet. But here’s the good news: heart disease can be prevented and even reversed by going vegan! According to a 2014 study published in “Nutrients,” vegans have a 42% lower risk of dying from heart disease. Why? Unlike meat, cheese and dairy, which are loaded with cholesterol and saturated fat that cause plaque buildup in the arteries, vegan diets contain no dietary cholesterol, minimal saturated fat, and lots of fiber.
A Vegan Diet Can Reduce Your Risk of Diabetes
Within the last 20 years, adults diagnosed with type 2 diabetes have more than doubled. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 34 million Americans suffer from diabetes. What’s more, over 88 million adults are prediabetic, and nearly 85% don’t even know it.
Unlike type 1 diabetes, which is an autoimmune condition, type 2 diabetes is a lifestyle disease, and your diet plays a large role in whether or not you’ll develop it. Luckily, according to Dr. Neal Barnard, President of the Physicians Committee of Responsible Medicine, a plant-based diet “is a powerful tool for preventing, managing, and even reversing type 2 diabetes.”
Research conducted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that following a plant-based diet reduces your risk of developing diabetes by more than 20%. The researchers noted “healthy plant-based foods have been shown to individually and jointly improve insulin sensitivity and blood pressure, reduce weight gain, and alleviate systemic inflammation, all of which can contribute to diabetes risk.” A vegan diet is also high in dietary fiber, which has been shown to help regulate blood sugar.
A Vegan Diet Reduces Obesity
Rates of obesity in America are at an all-time high. over 40% of the adult population suffers from the disease, which is classified as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30.0 or above. Obesity is much more than just numbers on scale. It comes with a host of complications and is associated with a higher risk for developing all of the chronic diseases mentioned above: type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Enter the vegan diet! One of the most common “side effects” of going vegan is weight-loss, which can lead to a lower BMI. Studies have shown vegans have lower BMIs than non-vegans and each additional year of following a vegan diet lowers the risk of obesity by 7%.
Visit Beyond Sushi in NYC
Beyond Sushi is New York City’s leading vegan restaurant chain best known for our innovative plant-based offerings. On the menu, you’ll find globally inspired dishes that will leave a lasting impact on both your palette and the planet. Dine in with us or order takeout or delivery today!