Health Benefits of a Vegan Diet: What Science Says

In the ever-evolving landscape of health and wellness, a vegan diet has emerged as a popular lifestyle choice. This is in no small part thanks to a number of benefits plant-based diets are supposed to offer.

Proponents of veganism often cite a slew of health improvements they’ve experienced since making the switch. But what does the research say? What are the science-backed benefits of a vegan diet?

Read on to discover why so many scientists and health experts are endorsing this animal-free lifestyle!

Key Takeaways

  • A vegan/vegetarian diet offers numerous health benefits supported by scientific research, including improved heart health, easier weight management, better digestion, and enhanced skin complexion.
  • Plant-based diets can significantly lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol levels, and decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. 
  • Vegan diets can aid in maintaining a healthy body mass index (BMI) and promote weight loss due to the high fiber content and low-calorie count of plant-based foods.
  • Adopting a vegan lifestyle can improve digestive health by increasing the diversity of the gut microbiome and aiding in smoother transit through the digestive tract.
  • Consuming fruits and vegetables, which are rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and water content, can promote healthy skin and improve complexion.
  • It’s important to adopt a well-planned vegan diet focusing on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts to reap these health benefits fully. Not all plant-based foods are equal in terms of nutritional value.

Heart Benefits

Looking to give your heart health a boost? A vegan diet could be just the ticket! Ongoing research suggests that embracing plant-based food items can lead to better blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

a heart shaped neon sign in the dark

Better Blood Pressure

Imagine the relief in knowing your heart doesn’t have to work overtime – that’s exactly what a plant-based diet offers, as it can significantly lower your blood pressure.

Science supports this claim – numerous studies show a correlation between plant-based diets and lower blood pressure levels.

A 2014 research published in JAMA Internal Medicine discovered vegans typically have lower blood pressure compared to those who eat both meat and vegetables.

Lowering your blood pressure isn’t just about cutting out animal foods, though. It’s also about what you’re adding to your diet – fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds are all rich sources of potassium and fiber, which are known to help manage hypertension effectively.

So why not give the vegan lifestyle a try? Not only could it potentially lead to better health outcomes, but it’s also an opportunity to discover new exciting flavors while contributing positively towards environmental sustainability.

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Lower Cholesterol Levels

Feeling lighter and more energetic could be your new normal when you ditch the cholesterol-laden animal products. Scientific studies have repeatedly shown that a plant-based diet can significantly reduce levels of LDL cholesterol, the kind known as ‘bad’ cholesterol.

A 2017 review and meta-analysis of 49 observational and controlled studies found that plant-based diets were associated with lower total cholesterol, including lower levels of HDL and LDL cholesterol, compared to omnivorous diets.

This is great news for your heart health since high levels of LDL cholesterol increase the risk of heart disease.

However, it’s important to adopt a well-planned plant-based diet to reap these health benefits. While going vegan does eliminate many high-cholesterol foods from your plate, not all vegan diets are created equal in terms of nutritional value.

Foods like fried snacks, refined grains, and sugary drinks may still contribute to bad cholesterol despite being technically vegan.

So, focus on incorporating whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts into your meals – they’re rich in dietary fiber, which has been proven effective in lowering blood cholesterol levels by reducing its absorption into your bloodstream.

diagram showing cholesterol blocking artery in human body

Reduced Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

Adopting a plant-based lifestyle can make you significantly less likely to contract heart disease. As mentioned above, vegans generally have lower blood pressure levels and less risk of developing hypertension, which is a significant factor in the development of heart disease.

A 2013 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition was designed to examine the relationship between meat-based and vegetarian/vegan diets and the risk of ischemic heart disease (IHD).

Among the 44 561 volunteers, 1235 IHD cases were observed, and unsurprisingly, diet played a significant role in modifying the risk of IHD. It has been found that vegetarians/vegans had an astounding 32% lower risk of contracting this disease.

By avoiding animal products and refusing to eat meat, you’re ditching the primary source of saturated fats – notorious for raising your cholesterol levels and promoting blockages in your arteries.

Vegan diets are also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which promote cardiovascular health by reducing inflammation and improving vessel elasticity.

Another interesting point is that vegans usually consume more soy products which contain isoflavones known for their cardioprotective properties.

Easier Weight Management

Weight management is considered easier when you switch to a vegan diet, as plant foods items are naturally low in calories and high in fiber.

Choosing fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes over animal-derived products helps to maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI). Vegans typically have lower BMIs than non-vegans.

One 2016 study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine reported that people following plant-based diets lost 2 kg more than those on non-vegetarian diets.

In addition to being low-calorie, plant-based foods tend to be rich in nutrients that can boost your metabolism and assist with fat burning.

For instance, many fruits and vegetables are high in vitamin C, which is known for its fat-burning properties. It has been discovered that people on a vitamin C-rich healthy diet oxidize 30% more fat during exercise than those with a vitamin C deficit.

Moreover, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes provide plenty of dietary fiber, which keeps you feeling full longer and can help control your appetite throughout the day.

food chart

A 2005 review published in the Nutrition Journal concluded that a higher intake of fiber may be instrumental in reducing the risk of obesity.

Adopting a vegan diet doesn’t mean giving up delicious food or starving yourself. It’s about making healthier choices:

  • Swapping out saturated fats from meat for unsaturated fats from plants
  • Replacing refined carbs with whole grains
  • Opting for fresh fruits rather than sugary desserts
  • Enjoying an array of colorful vegetables instead of processed snacks

When done right, not only does it support easier weight management, but it also contributes significantly towards overall health improvement.

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Improved Digestive Health

Imagine a world where bloating, constipation, and gastric discomfort happen rarely – that’s what switching to plant-based meals can do for your digestive system.

  • Consuming more beans, lentils, and whole grains (all sources of dietary fiber) can help bulk up your stool and facilitate smoother transit through the digestive tract.
  • Juicy fruits like oranges or watermelons have a very high water content that aids in softening stools and preventing constipation.
  • Raw vegetables not only add texture to your meals but also provide the necessary roughage for a healthier gut.

Science backs it up too. Research indicates that vegans have a more diverse gut microbiome compared to non-vegans. This diversity is associated with better overall health as it enhances nutrient absorption while combating harmful bacteria.

By following a well-balanced plant-based diet rich in various types of plants, you’ll be feeding those beneficial bacteria in your gut, resulting in improved digestion, less bloating and constipation, along with potential help with certain diseases linked to an unhealthy gut, such as type 2 diabetes.

So go ahead, give some thought to going green – not just for the environment but for your digestive health too!

Improved Skin Complexion

Ever wondered why your skin looks better after a week of munching on juicy fruits and crunchy veggies? It’s not magic, it’s science! A vegan diet can actually help improve your skin complexion.

Fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins, antioxidants, and water content which all play a significant role in promoting healthy skin. For instance, vitamin C found in citrus fruits aids collagen production that keeps your skin firm and supple.

A 2012 study found that increased fruit and vegetable consumption was associated with a healthier appearance of the skin as well as an enhanced perceived attractiveness.

Moreover, eating fruits and veggies high in carotenoids (compounds that give plants their vibrant colors) has been linked to yellow-red pigmentation changes in the skin, which can provide you with a natural glow.

Give it a try – load up on those leafy greens or colorful berries next time you’re at the grocery store and make your complexion healthier and more vibrant than ever!

Final Thoughts

The benefits of adopting a plant-based diet aren’t just anecdotal. Science has proven that a plant-based lifestyle has the potential to improve heart health, facilitate weight management, enhance digestive wellness, and even boost skin complexion.

The research is clear – by saying yes to fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds, you’re choosing a path of optimal nutrition and abundant health. It’s important to remember, though, that a well-balanced approach is key in ensuring you’re getting all the necessary nutrients from your plant-based diet.

So whether you’re considering going vegan for ethical reasons, environmental concerns, or simply to better your health, rest assured that you’re making a choice that’s backed by science. It’s an exciting journey of discovering new foods, flavors, and the immense power of plants to nourish and heal.

Why not start today? Your body will thank you!

Two More Recommendations for Your Plant-Based Journey

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