Updated: Jun 28, 2020
The potential benefits of veganism are wide-ranging. Research published by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in 2009 linked plant-based diets with lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, a reduced risk for type-2 diabetes, leaner body mass and -- when compared to diets consisting of animal products -- overall reduced risks for cancer and chronic disease.
“Only one diet has ever been shown to reverse heart disease, opening up arteries without drugs, without surgery,” said Dr. Michael Greger, a Gaithersburg, Maryland-based general practitioner who specializes in clinical nutrition. “Only vegan diets have been shown to reverse the number one killer of men and women in the United States.”
A healthy vegan diet provides rich amounts of vitamins, minerals, disease-fighting antioxidants and fiber -- an indigestible carbohydrate that promotes satiation, blood sugar control, digestive wellness and heart health. One cup of cooked beans or lentils provides about 15 to 16 grams of fiber, fulfilling approximately half of many adults’ recommended daily requirement of 25 to 38 grams. By contrast, a grilled chicken sandwich on bread made with enriched flour provides less than one gram of fiber.
Most plants are also naturally cholesterol-free and virtually devoid of artery-clogging saturated fat. Beans and lentils, for example, are rich in protein and have no saturated fat and cholesterol, making them ideal vegan staples, according to Greger.