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The number of people following a vegan diet has risen in recent years and this month, many people are challenging themselves with ‘Veganuary’. A vegan diet contains only plant-based foods, such as grains, fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds. It is generally accepted that a vegan diet can offer benefits for the environment, animal welfare and your health.

The benefits of the vegan diet for your heart depends on which foods you choose and what else you do with your lifestyle. People who cut animal foods out of their diets tend to benefit from more fruit, veg and fibre and less saturated fat, with favourable blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Why not try out some of our Vegan inspired Healthy Heart Tips:

  • Try a new recipe

You can find lots of tasty vegan recipes online, such as on the BBC website

  • Oil up

Rapeseed oil, flaxseed oil, walnuts, green leafy vegetables and soya products contain omega-3 fat which, when swapped for foods high in saturated fat, like fatty meats and cheese, could help to protect your heart and arteries. To cut down on animal fats, why not try swapping minced beef in your recipes for lentils, beans or chickpeas.

  • Look for reinforcements

To make sure your body isn’t missing out on essential nutrients, a vegan diet needs to be well-planned and you might need to top up on some vitamins. This time of year when sunlight exposure is limited, everyone in the UK should consider taking a vitamin D supplement. This is especially important if you’re cutting out animal products. You’ll also need to supplement on vitamin B12 as you can’t get this from plant-based foods. Check food labels for the word ‘fortified’- most vegan spreads, breakfast cereals and soya products have vitamin D, calcium and B12 added to them.

The Vegan Society provides information about good nutrition for people following a vegan diet. Take a look here.

The vegan diet isn’t the be all and end all to good health, but taking a leaf out of the vegan way could set you off in the right direction when it comes to heart health. So why not give it a go, start with one meal a day or one day a week and see how you like it.

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