Eating High Amounts Of These Fats Is Disastrous For Vegan Health
So you’ve gone vegan. You may have heard the trend is to keep your fats high, so you cook with coconut oil, slather olive oil on your salads and make it a point to eat avocados and nuts everyday. Perhaps you indulge in processed foods that contain no animal products. A look at two scientific studies may shed some light on the ill effects of fat on the vegan diet and how to correct it.
No Difference Between Vegetarians And Non-Vegetarians In Death Rates
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition combined data from 5 prospective studies to compare the death rates from common diseases of vegetarians with those of non-vegetarians with similar lifestyles. Investigators in 5 prospective studies deliberately recruited a large proportion of vegetarians and, for comparison, non-vegetarians with lifestyles similar to the vegetarians. They analyzed the combined data from these 5 studies to provide overall estimates of the association of a vegetarian diet with the risk of death from specific causes.
All 5 studies reported that infrequent meat consumption or vegetarianism was associated with low mortality from ischemic heart disease, and these observations were strongly confirmed in the collaborative analysis: vegetarians had a 24% lower mortality from ischemic heart disease than non-vegetarians.
The lower mortality from ischemic heart disease among vegetarians was greater at younger ages and was restricted to those who had followed their current diet for more than 5 years.
However, further categorization of diets showed that, in comparison with regular meat eaters, mortality from ischemic heart disease was 20% lower in occasional meat eaters, 34% lower in people who ate fish but not meat, 34% lower in lacto-ovo-vegetarians, and 26% lower in vegans. There were no significant differences between vegetarians and non-vegetarians in mortality from cerebrovascular disease, stomach cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, or all other causes combined.
Here’s How Eating a High Amount of Processed Foods Is Disastrous For Vegan Health
How could it be that vegan and vegetarian diets could have the same mortality rates as non-vegan and non-vegetarian diets? The answer lies in the Omega 6-omega 3 ratio. A UK study published in the British Journal of Nutrition looked at the sudden cardiac death of vegetarians and vegans which boiled down to low level of Omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA.
To sum it up, there are three types of fatty acids – saturated fats, animal fats, coconut oil, palm kernel oil. Then there are mono-unsaturated fats, nuts, avocados, olive oil, canola oil. There are also poly-unsaturated fats, which are broken out into Omega 3 fats such as, dark leafy greens, walnuts, hemp seeds, flax seeds and flax seed oil, and Omega 6 fats, which are cotton seed oil, corn oil, safflower oil and sunflower oil.
Omega 3’s go on to create EPA and DHA, which block inflammation and clotting and stop heart attacks. The Omega 6’s go on to produce a substance known as AA which is inflammatory and produces heart attacks. When we eat Omega 6 fats, (processed foods) our Omega 6 ratio rises. This is not good. That being said, when we raise the ratio of omega 6’s we produce inflammation.
Because we also need Omega 6 fatty acids in low amounts to maintain good health, the ideal ratio for eating Omega 3’s to Omega 6 fatty acids should be 4-1.
However the UK study showed that vegetarians had a significantly higher ratio of Omega 6 – Omega 3 fatty acids ((10-1) and vegans had a ration of (15-1) than meat eaters (7-1), which means vegetarians and vegans were eating way more processed foods that contained dangerous Omega 6 fatty acids, which we know causes inflammation and heart attack.
How Can Vegans Lower Their Chance Of Heart Attack?
Eat more plant-based omega 3’s or supplement with a quality plant-based EPA-DHA Omega 3 and not fish oil to avoid heavy metals. The most concentrated source of omega 3’s is flax seed. Eating 1-2 tablespoons flax seeds daily, perhaps in a smoothie, will help increase your Omega 3 ratio. Lastly, avoid eating processed foods these contain high amounts of Omega 6 fatty acids such as corn oil, canola oil, cotton seed oil, safflower oil and sunflower oil.