Veganism is a beautiful life choice that has some fantastic health benefits. However, as a vegan, you need to ensure a balanced diet to avoid hormone disruptions, iron deficiencies, depression caused by a lack of omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin B12 and zinc.
Because vegan diets are lower in proteins, many people tend to over-consume carbohydrates in the forms of legumes, bread, crackers, and cookies to replace calories and appease their sugar cravings. Unfortunately, this can lead to blood sugar swings, fatty liver disease, and other conditions.
According to the Daily Mail, a recent study from the Greek Harokopi University in Athens, following a vegan diet isn’t enough to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, especially if you continue eating sugar-laden and processed foods. One of the researchers, Professor Demosthenes Panagiotakis told the Daily Mail: “By simply following a plant-based or vegetarian diet, it is not enough to reduce cardiovascular disease.”
How does sugar kill?
According to researchers, sugar is a highly addictive substance, making it extremely difficult for some people to control its consumption. As a result, Americans now consume 152 pounds of sugar annually, an incredibly ridiculous amount compared to the average of the 2 pounds consumed in the 1700s.
Besides the dangers of heart disease mentioned above, which is the leading cause of death in both men and women in the US, sugar has other adverse effects on your health. These include weight gain, diabetes, cavities, and an increase in breast cancer in women. In addition, even though the risk for other cancers does not appear to rise with higher sugar consumption, increased waist size does increase the risk in most cancers.
Health and Unhealthy Foods
According to this research and the knowledge we already have about high refined carbohydrate consumption, going sugar-free on a vegan diet appears to offer the protection required to safeguard your health.
Besides avoiding all forms of refined sugars, even though, unlike honey, these are plant-derived, vegans should also avoid the consumption of refined carbohydrates. Doing this allows vegans to significantly reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease compared to those on an animal-based diet. For example, if followed correctly, a primarily plant-based diet, the Greek study showed that reduces the risk of heart disease by 25% in men and 11% in women.
Other unhealthy foods vegans prefer include fruit juice, soft drinks, refined grains products made with white flour, candy, and other sweet confections.
Other sources of Hidden Sugar
The highest single food source with the most sugar in the US is soft drinks. They contain 33% of the sugar consumed there. This is followed by the sugar added to beverages and foods at the table and baked goods, fruit juices, etc.
Unfortunately, many processed foods like cereals, flavored yogurts, bread, and ready foods like pasta sauces and soups contain high levels of sugar.
Foods low in sugar
Unprocessed fruits and vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and unsweetened beverages are the healthier choices for a vegan diet. However, it is natural to have sugar cravings on a vegan diet. There are several ways to keep these at bay, including eating dark, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, brown rice, quinoa, and avocado. These foods are high in magnesium, helping to reduce sugar cravings.
As a vegan, you should always keep healthy snacks such as whole fruits, nuts, seeds, and kale chips available to snack on. You can also turn to naturally sweet foods and spices to help with cravings. These include coconut, cinnamon, corn, sweet potatoes, and fruit.
Since sugar is both toxic and addictive, perhaps the best way for a vegan to tackle the problem is to avoid all refined and sugar-containing foods. Keeping your diet balanced and including the correct ratios of nutrients will ensure that you minimize deficiencies and cut those sugar cravings. Overcoming the temptation to consume sugar requires some willpower, but staying hydrated, exercising, and getting the support of your loved ones will make the process easier.