Vegan diet – good or bad for health?

Vegan diet – good or bad for health?

By Neha Ranglani  on: 20 December 2014
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 A vegan diet is one which does not include dairy and meat products. Many people around the world follow this diet for various reasons ranging from ethical, health and environmental concerns. But how healthy is it? What are its ill effects? Can one turn vegan from a meat eater? Nutritionist Neha Chandna answer some FAQs about following a vegan diet.

What are the health benefits of following a vegan diet?

Neha: A vegan diet is generally low in fat, and full of fibre, vitamins and minerals. This helps reduce the risk of obesity, cancer,diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart attacks. Apart from this, it also helps to prolong the degeneration process of aging.

What are the substitutes for dairy and meat products?

Neha: Dairy products and meat essentially provide calcium and protein to our body. So when you follow a vegan diet, you need to get your calcium and protein intake from vegan sources like soya, soya milk, lentils, chickpeas (chana), red kidney beans (rajma), sprouts, tofu, peas, almonds and walnuts.

Are there any ill effects of a vegan diet?

Neha: Though there are no ill effects as such, opting for a vegan diet can make you fell ‘less full’. If you were regular with meat and dairy products in your diet and suddenly decided to turn vegan you might feel the need to increase the quantity of your food as meat and dairy products have fats and proteins which give you a full feeling. When you omit them try increasing the quantity of dals, veggies, and salads to avoid hunger pangs.

What can go wrong if you do not follow a proper diet plan?

Neha: If you do not eat the required portions, your body will react to it in the form of excess weight loss, loss of muscle mass causing weakness, lack of strength and stamina, hair fall due to lack of protein and biotin, accelerated aging due to lack of nutrients.

Do vegans suffer from any serious ailments because of their dietary habits?

Neha: Vegans might suffer from some ailments if nutrition planning is not done correctly:

Calcium deficiency: Due to omission of milk and milk products, there may be increased risk of  bone mass loss, bone fracture and osteoporosis if calcium rich foods mentioned above are not included in the diet or if proper calcium supplementation is not given.

Vitamin D deficiency: There is small amount of vitamin D in milk and meat but in vegan diet, you need to emphasise on sunlight exposure for 15 minutes daily to avoid deficiency which can lead to poor calcium absorption and bone problems.

Vitamin B12 deficiency: Vitamin B12 is mainly found in animal foods, hence it is important to include vitamin B12 fortified foods or supplements to avoid deficiency which can lead to weakness, confusion, tingling sensation in the feet, anemia, nerve and brain damage as well.

Is it feasible to be a vegan for your entire lifetime?

Neha: Yes, you can follow a vegan diet for lifetime as long as it is nutritionally well planned by a dietician to make sure you get all the nutrients in the right amount and prevent deficiencies.

Here’s a sample vegan diet plan by Neha Chandna

Breakfast: 2 fruits + nuts + green tea
Mid-morning: veggie juice/coconut water/ 1 cup soya milk
Lunch: raw salad + 2 jowar/ragi rotis/ 1 cup brown rice + veggies +dal
Evening: 1 bowl sprouts salad/moong bhel/ chana chaat
Dinner: soup + salad / tofu stir fry + veggies +1-2 rotis
Bedtime: 1 cup soyamilk/groundnut milk



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The first and the most inevitable ingredient of any dish is the oil that you cook it in. It is used in almost all your daily meals, even in salads. But do you pay fine attention to find out which one will make you unhealthy and which one is best for you? If not, it is time to start right away. Here’s a guide to pick the right cooking oil. Oil basics Oils contain three types of fatty acids — saturated (SFA), polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA). Saturated fats remain solid at room temperature and can therefore tolerate high temperatures. Poly- and mono- saturated fats on the other hand, are liquid at room temperature and oxidise easily. Every oil has a smoke point i.e. the temperature at which it starts to burn, producing harmful chemicals. Depending on the type of cooking one has to do, they should select an oil with a low or high smoke point. Another important thing is the omega-6 and omega-3 ratio in your oil as some omega-6 fatty acids promote inflammation while omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation. According to researchers, the ideal ratio should be between 2:1 to 4:1. As per the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) an ideal oil is one which has SFA:MUFA:PUFA ratio of 27-33%:33-40%:27-33%. How to choose your oil? Says dietician and nutritionist Neha Chandna,‘While choosing a cooking oil, make sure you check the label behind to ensure that the oil has low saturated fats (less than 2g for every 10g), zero trans fats and higher amount of MUFA and PUFA — but PUFA should be lesser than MUFA. This is because MUFA and PUFA increase good cholesterol and reduce bad cholesterol whereas saturated and trans fats increase bad cholesterol thereby increasing chances of heart attacks.’ Monosaturated fats increase the HDL and decrease LDL and thus reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Oils that contain high amount of polysaturated fats are unstable and should be avoided. If you plan to stir fry, sear, deep fry or do high-heat baking, then choose a cooking oil which can withstand it, an oil with a high smoke point. An oil with a low smoke point can be used for steaming, stewing and as a salad dressing.  What’s good for cooking Indian cuisine? According to Neha, since Indian food is generally cooked at high tempreture hence the oil should have a high smoke point so that it does not breakdown easily and give bad odour. ‘Oils with higher smoke point are sunflower, safflower, soybean, rice bran, peanut, sesame, mustard and canola oil. Olive oil has a medium smoke point hence cannot be used to very high temperature cooking. It is best for sautéing and salads,’ adds Neha. She suggests using a blend of oils to get all the essential fatty acids. Rice bran + olive oil or rice bran + sunflower/safflower oil are a few combinations. You can choose any brand which has ready blends or use two oils separately or rotate the oils every two months. Myths about cooking oil Neha busts is that one should choose a vegetable oil low on cholesterol. The fact is vegetable oils are made from plants which do not contain cholesterol. Hence marketing vegetable oil as low cholesterol is a mere gimmick. Know your cooking oils Vegetable oil â€“ It is the most commonly used cooking oil and is good for frying. It is a mix of different types of oils like sunflower, soybean, etc. Sunflower oil – This oil is low in saturated fat and has an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 39.4:1. It is also a good source of vitamin E. Rice bran oil â€“ It has a high smoke point. It contains a component called gamma oryzanol which has cholesterol lowering properties by decreasing cholesterol absorption and increasing cholesterol elimination.  Olive oil â€“ It has different varieties like extra virgin, virgin, refined, etc. Extra virgin is very healthy as its 70% fats are MUFA but it has a low smoke point and a strong flavour. Two very important compounds that promote heart health – Omega 3 and oryzanol – are present in Saffola Active Oil. Made with rice bran and soyabean oil, it also contains vitamin E. Both these oils are good for cooking and lower cardiovascular risk factors along with other several health benefits.
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Best Dietician in Mumbai, India 

Dietitian Neha Chandna (Ranglani) has 8 years of experience in the field. Food and Health is the matter of interest for most of the people today and realizing the need to create awareness and spread the right information to the society, Neha decided to extensively educate herself in the field of nutrition. As a known fact that diet and exercise go hand in hand, She went a step ahead to certify herself as a REEBOK Aerobic instructor. One of the Most Famous & Online Nutritionists Dietitians in Mumbai (Khar west).Neha Chandna, a dietitian in Mumbai, is a university topper in Dietetics from S.V.T. She has worked as a nutritionist for reputed gyms and fitness trainers and as a consultant with doctors and physiotherapists. She deals with sportsmen, individuals who are obese or victims of lifestyle issues- to name a few- diabetes, thyroid, osteoporosis, PCOS etc. and active/exercising sector of society. She educates and conducts seminar/workshops for corporates like banks (HDFC & Standard Chartered Bank), BPOs and MNCs on the Right ways of eating and living. She also takes workshops on Nutrition in Pregnancy and Lactation. Neha Chandna also writes articles for magazines and newspapers like New Woman, Beauty and salon, Hello Mumbai, the afternoon etc. She has also done a couple of interviews for TV9 channel. She is an online consultant for a health social networking website www.ihealthu.com. Dietician Neha Chandna is one of the Best Dietician / nutritionist in Khar west , Mumbai.Neha Chandna is a Famous Nutritionist in Khar west & a famous nutritionist in Mumbai for weight loss diet chart and for other diet plan services. Popular dietcian in Mumbai. Consult her for best online Diet charts in Mumbai. 
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