A plant-based diet provides abundant health benefits
By Claire Mcallister
Alternative diets are gaining popularity, and one of the strictest alternative diets is veganism. This diet eliminates all food products produced by animals, including eggs, cheese, milk, and meat. While only a small percentage of Americans have adopted the vegan diet, the environmental and health benefits it offers have caught the attention of many.
One of the challenges in studying the health effects of veganism has been the difficulty in eliminating variables. Dietary research is complex, as many factors influence health, including genetics, lifestyle, and upbringing. However, a new study by Stanford Medicine sought to address this challenge by using pairs of twins in their study. 22 couples were selected based on their pre-existing health levels meeting a threshold. They then randomly chose one twin to be omnivorous and another to be vegan for 8 weeks.
The study found that LDL-C levels, which is a main component of cholesterol, decreased in the vegan twin. LDL is considered the “bad” cholesterol, so this decrease is excellent for cardiovascular health. Additionally, vegan participants reduced their fasting insulin levels by 20%, reducing their risk of developing diabetes. These findings confirm that the health benefits of a completely vegan diet are proven.
However, maintaining a completely vegan diet can be difficult. The restrictive nature of the diet requires a significant commitment. Nevertheless, researchers suggest that cardiovascular benefits can be achieved with modest reductions in animal foods and increases in healthy plant foods. So, even opting for a veggie burger instead of a beef burger could provide visible benefits.
Ultimately, a more plant-based diet rather than a complete dietary overhaul may be ideal for providing cardiovascular benefits while maintaining satisfaction in one’s diet. The research suggests that one does not have to completely eliminate animal products to see health benefits. The benefits of a plant-based diet can be reaped with a more balanced approach.