October 4, 2012

4 Vegan Superfoods to Jumpstart your Week.


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.


Editor: Edith Lazenby

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