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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Vegan Doesn't Necessarily Mean Healthy!!!

I was reminded of this recently.  A patient with high triglycerides told me of her intent to become a vegan.  She ate two meals and usually one smoothie every day from a local vegan restaurant.  While she was completely vegan at this point, her repeat blood work looked no better -- her triglycerides were still very high.

Why is this???

Not everything that is vegan is healthy.  Salt and oil are vegan.  So are avocadoes.  And coconut milk.  And white bread.  So, even on a diet that is vegan, we can still be unhealthy.

And, it's important to remember that when you eat at a restaurant, you don't know what has been added to your food for flavor.  Vegan or not, the chef usually does not care about your long-term health; he or she just wants you to love the food so you come back and buy more.

While I love a good restaurant meal, most of my meals are prepared at home.  I usually pack a salad loaded with veggies and tofu slices or lentils and a piece of fruit for dessert.

Remember:  A healthful vegan diet consists of plant-based foods that are unprocessed (or minimally processed), with lots of fruits and vegetables, with minimal (if any) oil, and low in salt.


Amanda said...

what's wrong with avocados? I know they have lots of fat, but are they downright bad for you? My doc said to eat a lot of them for health (I'm overweight by about 60lbs) and run about 15 miles per week.

VeganHeartDoc said...

Amanda -- Avocadoes are not bad for you. They are a plant-based food and one of my favorite salad toppings. However, people tend to eat avocado in far larger portions than appropriate. One medium avocado has nearly 300 calories and 30 grams of fat. That's a lot of calories and fat for a very small portion of food.

When I make a salad, I put no more than a quarter of an avocado on it.

It is better to fill up foods that are less calorie-dense, and you will consume fewer calories.

Lisa Viger said...

What part of her unhealthy vegan diet was causing the high triglycerides?

Amanda said...

Thanks, Doc. Good to know :)

Mona said...

Hey Heather! I have no idea if you remember me since my blog reading activities are sporadic. Anyway, this is such a good point. The number of times I've had to say to people "that cupcake I just handed you is only good to your tastebuds" is pretty astounding.

I think it would be so cool to have a vegan MD, by the way. I'm vegan out of principle, but I still care about my health. It would be so nice to be able to get nutrition advice that wasn't "stop being vegan."