5 Health Benefits Of Going Vegan

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A Middle Eastern nutrition expert explains the main health advantages of going vegan

Veganism has experienced a huge surge in popularity over the past few years. People are going plant-based for reasons that cover animal rights and environmentalism, but did you know there are also major health benefits 

By omitting meat and dairy products, studies have shown an increase in energy, lower cholesterol levels, fewer migraines and other positive effects. 

To celebrate World Vegan Month, we spoke to Fitness First Middle East's nutrition manager, Banin Shahine, who shares her top five health benefits to going vegan.

Courtesy of Fitness First

1. Your intake of whole foods will increase

Going vegan means eliminating dairy and meat from your diet and lifestyle, and instead consuming a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains that  provide the body with the vitamins and minerals you need for optimal health. This will definitely help you increase your intake of whole foods.

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Crushed chickpeas and sumac bowl

2. You'll get a major boost of energy

Processed foods and sugars make you feel lethargic and lower in energy. Eating whole foods will significantly give you a boost of energy and will help you lower your stress levels. Some of the plant-based foods that can help you with this are:

  • 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 rich 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.

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Refreshing cucumber, apple, pomegranate and basil salad

3. Less saturated fat intake means lower cholesterol levels

Saturated fat is primarily found in animal products like meat and cheese, and is a key factor in increasing cholesterol, which contributes to many heart diseases. Adopting a vegan diet will automatically decrease your saturated fat intake, but any transition to a 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. 

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Spinach and avocado dip

4. You'll have fewer migraines

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 instead, especially purer, organic produce that is less likely to trigger a migraine attack. 

5. You'll reduce the risk of kidney failure 

A diet that involves a heavy amount of meat consumption isn't always good for the body. Recent studies have shown that by following a vegan diet, you can reduce the risk of kidney failure, as plant proteins are healthier for your organs and will help encourage production levels within the liver and kidney.

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Dalia Dogmoch Soubra’s vitamin-packed breakfast smoothies
Dalia Dogmoch for Harper's Bazaar Arabia