Note: this post has been updated in June 2020.
Nutrients for Vegans and Whole Food Plant-based Eaters
Are you a new vegan or plant-based person looking to make sure you get enough of the essential nutrients in your food? If you are vegan you need to be careful that you get enough nutrients in your food that is why I have this article on nutrients for vegans. Here’s a look at a few ways you can make sure your new lifestyle change is as healthy as can be!
These essential nutrients are necessary for energy and materials for life building processes in the human body. Thus the term essential nutrients. Below is a list of the essential minerals need by everyone.
Meat and Diary Free Omega-3s
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for heart, brain, skin, and joint health. Fortunately, you can get them without all the cholesterol and toxins found in fish. Flaxseeds, walnuts, and canola oil are good vegan sources of the omega-3 ALA. It’s also a good idea to take vegan DHA capsules, which contain omega-3s derived from algae (where the fish get it from!).
Protein-Packed Plant Foods
Almost every food contains protein, so it’s nearly impossible not to get enough if you’re consuming an adequate amount of calories. Soybeans, a vegan super-food, are packed with protein and essential amino acids. Other beans as well as chickpeas, lentils, nuts, seeds, mushrooms, broccoli, walnuts, whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, and corn are also good protein sources. - via PETA
Nutrients for Vegans: Iron — Are You Getting Enough?
One of the many necessary nutrients we humans need to survive is iron. Are you getting enough? Many vegans and vegetarians aren’t, especially when they first make the switch. Here’s a look at how you can get enough iron in your everyday diet.
We all need some Iron
Iron serves as an essential part of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in your blood from your lungs to every body cell. Iron comes in two forms: heme, which is better absorbed, and non-heme, which is not absorbed as readily. According to the Institutes of Medicine and The Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG), 40% of the iron found in meat, poultry and fish is heme, while the other 60% is non-heme. All plant-based sources of iron are non-heme, which is why the RDA for iron is higher for vegetarians than it is for meat eaters. According to the Institutes of Medicine, vegetarian men and post-menopausal women need 14 mg daily and pre-menopause vegetarian women should aim for 33 mg each day. While non-heme iron isn't as readily absorbed as heme iron, a few simple steps can influence the absorption of iron:
Select a variety of plant-based iron-rich foods daily, such as legumes, fortified veggie meats, nuts and seeds, prunes, raisins, blackstrap molasses, fortified cereals and grains, kale, and broccoli.
Do not rely on spinach, beet greens, rhubarb, and Swiss chard for your iron. An acid in these veggies called "oxalates" binds with the iron, making it unavailable for the body.
Eat iron-rich plant foods along with fruits and veggies that are rich in vitamin C during the same meal or snack to increase absorption.
Use cast-iron pots and pans to cook your food, especially acidic foods such as tomato sauce. This will increase the amount of iron in your food.
Do not drink tea or coffee with your iron-rich foods. The tannins in the tea and coffee can decrease the absorption of the iron. Some herbal teas, such as chamomile, peppermint, lime flower, and pennyroyal, can also decrease absorption.
If you are in doubt about your iron intake, talk to your doctor. A simple test can determine your iron level. - via SparkPeople
Join the Food Revolution Network
The Food Revolution Network is committed to healthy, ethical, and sustainable food for all. Guided by John and Ocean Robbins, with more than 500,000 members and with the collaboration of many of the top food revolutionary leaders of our times, The Food Revolution Network aims to empower individuals, build community, and transform food systems to support healthy people and a healthy planet.
Start Your Journey to Health
Join the Physicians Committee's 21-Day Vegan Kickstart to receive meal plans, recipes, and advice from nutrition experts. This service is free and will help you take control of your health with a vegan diet. Our low-fat plant-based recipes, developed by chefs, dietitians, and experts in vegan cuisine, provide nutritious meals that are both healthy and delicious. Within 21 days you will start to see results and won’t look back! via - 21-Day Vegan Kickstart
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