While it is widely known that forgoing meat in your diet could do wonders for your health, a new study shows that vegans may outlive their meat-eating pals. Plant-based foods have already been proven to decrease your risk of cancer, heart disease, obesity, and blood pressure. This new study takes a unique approach in determining which diet is the healthiest.
Published by The Journal of Nutrition this week, the new study dives into how various popular diets impact several biomarkers (such as antioxidants like carotenoids).
In the study, the researchers analyzed a total of 840 people who followed the following five diet styles: non-vegetarians (meat-eaters), semi-vegetarians (consumed meat less than once a week but more than once a month), pesco-vegetarians (consumed fish but not meat), lacto-ovo-vegetarians (consumed dairy and eggs but no meat or fish), and last but not least, vegan (consumed no animal products whatsoever). The findings show that of the five groups, vegans have the highest presence of antioxidants in their bodies, primarily due to a higher intake of vegetables and fruit.
To come to this conclusion, the participants provided blood, urine, and fat samples for the researchers to analyze for antioxidant, saturated fat, unsaturated fat, and vitamin levels. After analysis, the researchers report that vegans have the highest concentration of antioxidants such as carotenoids, isoflavones, and enterolactone, which provide many health benefits, such as decreasing inflammation. In contrast, high levels of inflammation are linked to diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
One of the most prominent arguments against veganism tends to be a possible deficiency in omega-3 fatty acids in the vegan diet, especially since omega-3s provide many health benefits such as reducing blood pressure, reducing triglycerides, slowing the development of plaque in the arteries, and more. Surprisingly, the study found that vegans also had more omega-3 fatty acids in their bodies compared to the other four diet groups. This is possibly due to high consumption of walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds, which all provide high levels of omega-3.
If you haven’t yet, perhaps this study is an excellent push to (finally) try a vegan diet. At the very least, it can be a call to action to eat more fruit and vegetables.