by Banin Shahine, Nutrition Manager at Fitness First Middle East
With World Vegan Day (1st November) just around the corner, there’s no better time than to re-think our daily diet and switch from animal produce to a vegan based lifestyle.
There are lots of reasons why people decide to go vegan, such as environmental concern and animal welfare, but eating a plant-based diet also has some major health perks too.
According to Fitness First Nutrition Manager, Banin Shahine, a vegan diet is richer in certain nutrients. Studies have shown that a vegan diet provides the body with more fibre, antioxidants and beneficial plant compounds. These nutrients help the digestive system, protect the body from chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and diabetes and help cleanse the liver.
Here, Banin Shahine, Nutrition Manager at Fitness First Middle East, shares her six health benefits of going vegan.
A VEGAN DIET WILL HELP YOU EAT MORE WHOLE FOODS
Eliminating meat and dairy can help increase your whole food intake and will also encourage you to get more creative in the kitchen. When you lead a vegan lifestyle, naturally you will be consuming a lot more colour and variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, that provide the body with the vitamins and minerals you need for optimal health.
YOU MAY FEEL A SPRING IN YOUR STEP
Processed foods and sugars can make you feel lethargic and lower your energy levels. Eating whole foods rich in healthy fats, vitamins and minerals will significantly give your energy levels a good boost and lower your stress levels. Here are a few delicious plant-based foods to help increase your energy levels.
Bananas are one of the best foods for energy. They are an excellent source of carbohydrates and are full of potassium and vitamin B6- all of which can help boost energy levels in the body.
Brown rice is extremely nutritious. It is less processed than white rice and retains more nutritional value in the form of fibre, vitamins and minerals. Thanks to its fibre content, brown rice has a low glycaemic index, meaning it can help regulate blood sugar levels and maintain steady levels throughout the day
Apples are rich in natural sugars and fibre and provide a slow and sustained energy release. Rich in antioxidants, apples also help slow down the digestion of carbohydrates, and release energy over a more extended period of time
Edamame beans are relatively low in calories, but these satisfying pick-me-up snacks are full of proteins, carbs and fibre. Edamame beans also have huge amounts of vitamins and minerals that help increase energy in different ways.
Leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale, broccoli, lettuce and watercress are all excellent sources of Vitamin B and have an important part to play in energy production. Incorporating these nutritious foods into your daily diet will help fight fatigue.
YOU’LL SLASH YOUR SATURATED FAT INTAKE
Saturated fat is primarily found in animal products like meat and cheese and it is a key factor in increasing cholesterol which contributes to many heart diseases. Adopting a vegan diet will automatically decrease your saturated fat intake. Any transition to more plant-based eating is extremely heart healthy. Not only can a plant-based diet help with your cholesterol levels but it can also decrease the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
Migraines are commonly linked to diet, and food can often be the trigger. Try and stay away from chocolate and cheese and opt for plant-based foods, especially organic product as the produce is much purer and less likely to trigger a migraine attack.
REDUCE THE RISK OF KIDNEY FAILURE
A meat diet isn’t always best for the body, especially in high consumption. Recent studies have shown that by following a vegan diet you can reduce the risk of kidneys not functioning properly. Plant proteins are healthier for your organs and help encourage production levels within the liver and kidney.
BANIN’S SHAHINE TOP VEGAN RECIPES:
SUPERPOWER CHIA PUDDING:
¼ cup or chia seeds
1 cup of almond milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 tablespoon of maple syrup or coconut sugar
Place all ingredients into a container or bowl and mix well. Place covered in the refrigerator and mix every 1-2 hours until set. Gives 1-2 servings
PUMPKIN CURRY WITH BROWN RICE
2 cups of pumpkin cubes
1 small onion peeled and diced
3 cloves of garlic crushed
1 teaspoon of Turmeric Powder
1 teaspoon of curry or mixed spices
2 lemon leaves
2 cups of coconut milk
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
Fry the garlic and onions with coconut oil, for 2 minutes and then add pumpkin cubes to the mix. Add the spices with the lemon leaves and stir fry for about 5-7 minutes. Then add the coconut milk and boil until the pumpkin softens. Salt and pepper to taste and then serve with steamed brown rice.
COCO DATE -ALMOND TRUFFLES
2 cups of pitted dates
3 tablespoons of almond butter
50 g of crushed almonds
1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
2 teaspoons of grounded cinnamon
Add pitted dates, almonds butter, and cinnamon into a food processor and blend into a smooth paste. Add the crushed almonds to the paste and mix them all together. Mould the paste into small balls- about tbsp size, then gently roll onto cocoa powder and serve