Whatever reason a vegan may have for not eating animal foods, following a diet that focuses solely on plants can lead to nutrient deficiencies. This is certain when the diets of a vegan do not have a plan. For those vegans looking to stay healthy, eating a diet rich in nutrients with fortified and whole foods is crucial. Here are the top 4 foods that should be included in a healthy vegan diet.
Going vegan requires avoiding natural protein and iron sources such as poultry, meat, eggs, and fish. It is therefore essential to replace these animal products with iron- and protein-rich plant options, such as legumes. Other great alternatives are beans, peas and lentils, containing 10-20 grams of protein in each serving.
Legumes are also vital sources of folate, iron, fibre, zinc, manganese, antioxidants, slowly digested carbs, and other plant compounds that promote health. Besides, legumes contain enough amounts of anti-nutrients, which are responsible for reducing the absorption of minerals.
Seaweed has many health benefits; it contains an essential fatty acid called DHA. It also contains large amounts of antioxidants, manganese, riboflavin, potassium, magnesium, and iodine.
Iodine, in particular, plays vital roles in the function of the thyroid gland and metabolism. Do not eat seaweeds such as kelp in large amounts because they are very high in iodine. Algae such as chlorella and spirulina are good sources of protein.
3. Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional yeast can be found in the form of flakes or yellow powder in most health food stores and supermarkets. It contains proteins and fibre and fortified with copper, magnesium, vitamin B (including vitamin B12), zinc, and manganese. Therefore, a practical way for vegans to meet their daily vitamin B12 recommendations is by consuming fortified nutritional yeast.
4. Choline-Rich Foods
Choline is a nutrient that is essential for the health of the brain, liver and nervous system. The human body system can produce choline, but only in small amounts. Thus, it’s an essential nutrient you should get from your diet.
Foods varieties such as vegetables, legumes, nuts, grains, and fruits contain small amounts of choline. However, plant foods like soymilk, tofu, quinoa, broccoli, and cauliflower have large amounts of choline. Choline requirements may increase during pregnancy. Therefore, pregnant vegans should ensure they have foods with enough choline on their table.
The need for vegans to avoid animal-based foods will limit them to certain nutrients. This brings the need to increase the requirements for other foods. Consuming a well-planned plant-based diet will help vegans stay healthy.