4 Vegan Superfoods to Jumpstart your Week.

Via on Oct 4, 2012

 

Suggestions for Being a Healthy Vegan

Jumping on the vegan bandwagon has been sounding more appealing to more and more people.

The decision to become a vegan takes a great amount of effort and research. If one is not willing to put in the due diligence, then making the transition to a vegan diet might trigger unforeseen nutrition side effects. With the onslaught of news surrounding GMO’s, the negativity around Monsanto, the massive amounts of chemicals that infiltrate our farming and food supply, and the trends to eat mostly organic, have this nation in a quandary as to how to protect the earth while eating responsibly.

There are still many people who are not in tune with this movement, and not many need to take the vegan plunge, but if there is a serious medical issue, or a need to alter a dietary lifestyle, switching to a vegan diet might be a good option.

The key is to do the research, make sure you understand food combinations and their benefits to digestion and overall health, and the cost this new found way of eating might incur. There are vast amounts of information online that can give the average person everything they need to know about a vegan diet. By talking to like-minded people who have made the switch, attending seminars regarding this topic, reading nutrition and holistic books and manuals that document consequences and advantages, will surely aid in the process.

It may take some hours of work, but the satisfaction received in eliminating unnecessary foods, the weight loss that occurs, the warding off of possible diseases and their risks, and just an overall feeling that life is simpler. This is the beauty of a vegan diet.

There are several “superfoods” that a vegan diet will require in order to balance the amino acids within each food. The amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and most vegans need to acquire satisfactory amounts of daily protein based on their body weight. Taking supplements will help, but getting the necessary vitamins, minerals, balanced protein, fats and carbohydrates through fresh foods, is more optimum than relying on only supplementation.

Superfoods are more digestible in the vegan lifestyle than ordinary processed foods. A vegan diet must subsist on some of these “superfoods” in order to get the necessary nutrients and continue to live comfortably and disease-free. The following is a list of four different “superfoods” that could be included in a vegan diet, for no other reason, than to give the diet variety, new ideas, good taste, and plenty of power-packed nutrients.

1. Chia Seeds

There are numerous benefits to adding these tiny seeds to a vegan diet. Chia seeds will balance blood sugar. The soluble and insoluble fiber of the seeds turns food into constant steady energy, versus the ups and downs in blood sugar. These seeds contain healthy Omega 3s, and are the richest plant source of these oils.

As a vegan, and unable to consume fish by choice, chia seeds will enhance the Omega 3 quality in the diet. The seeds are also 100 percent chemical free, and no pesticides are used to grow them, which is vitally important in today’s vegan world. Finally, the chia seed is the highest plant-based source of a complete protein. Without the traditional meat-based diet, getting enough protein on a daily basis is vital for the vegan. Since chia seeds also contain calcium (more than whole milk), the vegan diet will benefit from also being dairy free.

 2. Spirulina

This green powder derived from the spirulina plant has over 100 nutrients and is described as the most complete food source. The protein content alone is between 55-70 percent of cell weight, with all the B vitamins, essential fatty acids, minerals (potassium, zinc, magnesium, calcium, iron), and contains all the essential amino acids in a complete protein. Compared to standard meat or dairy protein, spirulina is the food of the future. It has an astonishing ability to synthesize high quality complete nutriment more than any other whole food. For a vegan lifestyle, this is of utmost importance.

3. Acai Berries

These tiny berries are found in the Amazon rainforests and are considered the healthiest of the berry family. The richness of the anthocyanins, which are a form of plant antioxidants, strengthen heart health and improve blood circulation.

As a vegan, the risk of anemia is always present due to low iron levels, yet frequently eating acai berries will result in improved cellular health, promote healthy skin, may help prevent cancer, boost energy and stamina, aid in the fight against viral and parasitic infections and aid in weight loss.

The vegan diet is already fairly low in calorie intake, however many uneducated vegans may opt for processed foods due to the challenge of cooking and eating healthy on a regular basis. Therefore, it is beneficial to understand that eating some fruits in their natural state can assist with warding off inflammation from a highly processed diet. Acai berries added to the diet will also help with any digestive upset and ensure that proper antioxidants are ingested on a regular basis.

4. Avocado

The avocado is a very versatile and healthy fruit. The vegan lifestyle welcomes avocados due to their mild taste, versatility, and very satisfying content. The largest benefit of avocados are breast cancer protection, eye health, oral cancer defense, heart health, lower cholesterol, better nutrient absorption. Avocados are also a good source of Vitamin E. With so much monounsaturated fats in the avocado, there is a feeling of fullness after eating this luscious fruit.

In addition, glutathione, a very important antioxidant in prevention of aging, cancer and heart disease, is equally part of eating and enjoying the avocado experience. So much can be said about adding this fruit to salads, snacks, main courses, even desserts; it is that delicious and popular.

Transitioning to a vegan dietary lifestyle does take some work. It is not for the weak of heart or the person only willing to go halfway into this transition. Many vegans enjoy just as many benefits of healthy living, if not more so than their traditional vegetarian counterparts. Choosing this path will be very rewarding in all the ways mentioned, as well as cleaning out years of processed, packaged, and nutrient-deficient foods. Veganism is here to stay.

 

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Editor: Edith Lazenby

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About Gerry Ellen Avery

Gerry Ellen is an author, freelance writer, health and wellness advocate, and curious soul of all things. She is currently finding new meaning in her second half of life. Her first novel Ripple Effects was published in March 2012. She is a regular contributor to elephant journal, Be You Media Group, Light Workers World, and Meet Mindful. Besides her passions for writing, animals, the environment, laughter, healthy living, incredible friendships, heart-centered connections, and sharing her experiences of life and love, she never goes a day without her simple daily rituals (dark chocolate, yoga, green tea, meditation). She believes that balance is key to all things meaningful. Her current book A Big Piece of Driftwood was published in April 2014, and is also available on Amazon.com.

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20 Responses to “4 Vegan Superfoods to Jumpstart your Week.”

  1. CONDES says:

    Very interesting and informative. I for one could very easily become a "vegan" because I don't enjoy meat that much, but love vegies and fish. Glad to hear that avocados are nutritious and healthy because I love them. I'll for sure incorporate them in my regular lunch menu.

  2. Allison says:

    I would suggest reading The China Study or Reading or Watching Forks Over Knives. I have been a vegetarian since age 15, I have now 36, I have been vegan for almost 10 years of that that and the fears you are mentioning here that you have to have certain foods for ability to thrive. My iron, Vitamin B, Zinc and all other levels of my blood work are completely normal and always have been. I do not disagree with those superfoods, I tend to get my information from Doctor's that understand and promote a healthy, whole foods based, organic, alkaline vegan diet.
    "Many vegans enjoy just as many benefits of healthy living, if not more so than their traditional vegetarian counterparts." I have had nothing but BETTER health benefits from dropping all the horribly fat laden dairy from my diet years ago. No more sinus issues, colds, acne, etc. We are not baby cows so consuming the lactation of another mammal is not a valid food source for humans. There is more readily available for absorption of calcium from NON dairy sources such as cabbage and broccoli. The dairy board is a profits driven business and they want your money and for you to believe that you need calcium that was destined for a baby calf to grow. We are not ruminant animals that need the milk from a mother cow. It's illogical and very unhealthy. There is also no source of cholesterol in a Vegan diet. Only animal sources give cholesterol which as humans we should consume non of.

    • Gerry Ellen Avery Gerry Ellen says:

      Thank you, Allison. I have been a nutritionist for over 25 years, have been vegan, and vegetarian, and carnivore throughout my lifetime. I apply all principles to my own diet based on what works for me. I know many vegans, who are the healthiest I have ever seen. What works for one doesn't always work for another. My angle was to shed light on these Superfoods that I have since incorporated, and feel I could probably do without cheese, although I do love goat cheese. I have read the China Study and Forks Over Knives. The Mediterranean dietary lifestyle would probably best describe my intake. But, that's just me. I appreciate your input!

      • Allison says:

        ALL people thrive on a vegan diet so as a nutritionist here is a link to the stance on Vegan diets from the American Dietetic Association. http://www.eatright.org/about/content.aspx?id=835
        Appropriate for all stages of life. Blood type diets and it doesn't work for everyone means they are not eating a healthy, Organic, Whole Foods Diet. Everyone can thrive on a Vegan diet, making it seem costly and odd does it a disservice.

  3. Allison says:

    Additionally, my husband (also Vegan who runs marathons and is soon training for ULTRA marathons of 50 miles) and I eat the super foods you mentioned above and heavily use our Vitamix everyday. We are not processed food, junk food vegans.

    • Gerry Ellen Avery Gerry Ellen says:

      That's awesome. I have a dear friend in Boulder who is an Ultra marathoner, has been vegan for most of his adult life, and continues to excel at all his endeavors. I'm always in awe of his feats, and others, who pursue their chosen sport with zest while consuming the vegan diet. It works so well for him. I could literally eat an entire avocado as my lunch, with nothing on it, and feel great and alert and have healthy blood sugar levels. I think as I've gotten older, the less is more seems to work best for me. Again, thanks for your feedback! :)

  4. Kathy says:

    Hi Gerry,
    Being Vegan is not rocket science! We are meant to be plant eaters. There are many less exotic and less expensive alternatives to the foods that you have listed ( not including avocado). Acai grows in South America and costs a fortune, as it should for the environmental impact of transportation. We have incredible berries that grow on our own continent. Even in dry Colorado I have picked gallons of raspberries, black berries, service berries and choke cherries, all super high in anthocyanins. Chia seed is high in Omega3, but flax seeds are right up there too for a fraction of the price.Walnuts are also chock full of Omega3 oil. Spirulina has all of the needed amino acids, but so does Quinoa, at less cost.
    Also lets not perpetuate the myth about Vegans being anemic. The iron in greens and legumes are far better assimilated that cooked blood.
    Being Vegan is easy and delicious. It is good for you, good for the animals and good for the planet. Lets not make it scary, mysterious, complicated and costly.

  5. Gerry Ellen Avery Gerry Ellen says:

    I agree, Kathy! Thank you for your comment. This article is for those who need a little more info….And, being vegan is definitely a great lifestyle to adopt :)

  6. Michelle says:

    Hello! Thanks for the article. I have a question. I have a question, is there a particular brand of Spirulina supplement or powder that you recommend? I did not know of its benefits, so now I want to try it….Thanks.

    • Gerry Ellen Avery Gerry Ellen says:

      Hi Michelle! I use either the Healthforce Naturals brand in powder form, or Pure Hawaiian Spirulina Pacifica in tablet form. I bounce between the two, depending on availability and cost.

  7. Kristen says:

    Your superfoods post is right on the money! I advise my clients to incorporate these into their daily diets. Spirulina cannot be underestimated I also use Pure Hawaiian, and avocadoes are simply Mother Natures perfect food. It is very important that when one wants to go vegan they understand that work and dedication that's involved. It is very easy to become nutrient deficient and feel ill going vegan the easy and bad way; too many vegan junk out there!
    Here's to the movement Gerry!
    xoxo

  8. Allison says:

    @Kristen it is misinformation to describe the correct Vegan diet as “very easy to be nutrient deficient and feel ill going vegan.”. Again you are making statements that are not true. Again I hope people seek out MD’s and doctors that agree with a promote healthy Vegan diets. You mention “clients” do you also are a “wellness, health coach, etc.”. I have found their distrust that a Vegan diet benefits humans, the planet and animals better than any other diet upsetting. Live Ahimsa and in peace and do no harm to animals or others.

  9. Heather Morton Heather says:

    Actually it is very easy to become deficient from a plant food base if you do not supplement properly and you do not take care in choosing/selecting food that has the right source of minerals, iron and protein. It takes more work, time and effort to ensure you are getting the right foods. A simple diet of veggies, fruits and nuts won't take care of the missing B12, iron, etc.

    Some people's bodies need more than others of these elements and some people's bodies don't absorb the nutrients well. This explains why some folks like meat eaters need to also take a B12 shot.

    Unless one is eating legumes, beans and things like quinoa there won't be enough B12 to fulfill the nutrition requirements. women in particular also have to be careful that their iron is not deficient since having a period also takes away essentials.

    If a person takes care, does their research and prepares meals well then a vegan and vegetarian diet is super and the way to go. However, many people don't take the time, care and effort and thus run into problems.

    It is a well known fact that a vegetarian diet for most people in the West may be or might be low in B12.
    But generally people can get sloppy with eating…overeating, under eating, not the right combo.

    Certainly a vegan diet is not for the ill-informed.

    • Gerry Ellen Avery Gerry Ellen says:

      Awesome response, Heather. I agree with you wholeheartedly. Nothing comes easy in this world, and that includes how to eat properly. Because we live in such a fast-paced society, it's all too easy to get careless and lazy, and end up with one illness after another. Making sure we get the proper nutrients, no matter what chosen dietary lifestyle, is essential for overall well-being.

  10. [...] two simple sugars, glucose and galactose. These are quickly absorbed by the intestine and provide energy for the body. The level of the lactase enzyme varies between individuals, as does the severity of the symptoms [...]

  11. [...] Plants are powerhouses! They provide essential vitamins, nutrients and oxygen-rich chlorophyll to keep you healthy and shiny. [...]

  12. Amanda says:

    Spirulina and chlorella are two varieties of freshwater algae — primitive plants that are cultivated for nutritional use, dried and sold as dark green powders or tablets. They are very expensive and heavily promoted as miracle supplements. They are good sources of chlorophyll, but there is little or no research supporting the claims made about the algae.

  13. Amanda says:

    Acai may be rich in antioxidants, but that doesn't mean that high concentrations of those phytochemicals are making it from the berries into the juices, smoothies, etc. Unless you can eat them fresh in Brazil. Until we know more about these products, we should stick closer to home for our antioxidants. Opt for organically grown blueberries, which are easily obtainable in fruit form, are much less expensive and give you fiber as well as plenty of antioxidants. And don't forget black raspberries and pomegranates, both of which have good scientific evidence for their health benefits behind them.

  14. Gerry Ellen Avery Gerry Ellen says:

    good information, Amanda! Thanks…

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