Why Is My Cholesterol Level High If I’m On A Vegan Diet? When you think of high cholesterol levels, we automatically tend to visualize all the usual suspects as red marbled meat, butter, and other dairy products, eggs, etc. And almost all vegans think they don’t even have to worry about this problem. Well, they should be ready for the next surprise!
Why Is My Cholesterol Level High If I’m On A Vegan Diet
Many studies show a positive relationship between vegan/vegetarian diet and well-being. The health benefits of veganism that have been scientifically demonstrated are:
- fewer obesity problems
- less cardiovascular diseases
- lowering blood pressure levels
- less type 2 diabetes
- fighting cancers
- less intellectual disorders in the elderly
When you know that these health problems are real epidemics in our society, as they constitute the majority of deaths, it makes you want to become a vegan!
However, many individuals who have been vegan for a pretty long time may still have their cholesterol levels unhandled well, and most probably it’s due to genetic factors not the vegan diet at all.
And their cholesterol levels may even have gotten worse if they were following any other type of low carb diets.
Let’s clear it up and say that both vegans and vegetarians can have high cholesterol levels for one of the next possible reasons:
- Your high cholesterol can be due to genetic factors, so it could have nothing to do with what you eat or drink
- Trans fats are much worse when it comes to rating bad cholesterol and lowering good cholesterol levels. Those artificial unsaturated fats are found in many vegan products such as cakes, pie & pizza crusts, cookies, fries, and microwave popcorn.
- One of the major unhealthy vegan products is the coconut oil because of its high content of saturated fat, which WILL eventually make your cholesterol level spike.
How to fight bad cholesterol and stay perfectly healthy as a vegan?
- Check the ingredients of anything you put in your body
- Stay away from all types of saturated fats including coconut oil
- Eat a lot of nuts, garlic, avocado, and dark chocolate as they can help to lower your cholesterol.
- Workout more as more cardio exercise can also help in lowering bad cholesterol and increasing your good cholesterol levels.
Vegan Health Benefits Proven By Scientific Studies
Despite the previous facts, no one can ever neglect the huge positive impacts of being vegan on your general health and wellness. Many studies suggest that vegans have better cardiovascular health than their carnivorous counterparts. Why? Veganism is such an effective diet against bad cholesterol
Research on the subject has consistently claimed that total cholesterol levels are lower in vegans than in non-vegans. One study even suggests that adapting to a vegan or a vegetarian diet would be more effective than drug treatment.
Researchers at the University and St Michel’s Hospital in Toronto have compared the effects on cholesterol of standard drug therapy with those of a balanced vegan diet.
The Result: the vegan and vegetarian diets can reduce LDL cholesterol (commonly called “bad” cholesterol) by 29%, compared to 30.9% for drugs.
The vegetarian diet is an alternative treatment for people willing to pay attention to their diet. It is important to know that the effect of a vegetarian diet on blood cholesterol depends on the composition of the diet, particularly in relation to saturated and unsaturated fatty acids.
Cardiovascular risk factors are reduced
Are vegans in better cardiovascular health? To find out, a team of researchers compared the cardiovascular risk in 67 vegans and 134 omnivores aged 35 to 64. Researchers measured several parameters known to be major risk factors for cardiovascular disease: blood pressure, fasting blood sugar, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.
As a result, the set of indicators is better for vegetarians than for non-vegetarians.
A study also shows that the vegetarian/vegan diet preserves the cardiovascular health of patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
Beware of homocysteine
High levels of homocysteine (a sulfur amino acid) are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. This rate is influenced by eating habits: it increases when there is a deficiency in vitamin B12 (very common among both vegans as well as vegetarians), B9 and B6.
A recent study  compared homocysteine levels on 26 vegans and 26 omnivores. The goal? To determine the effects of the vegan diet on the homocysteinemia of women.
As a result, vegetarians/vegan have more homocysteine than omnivores.
The results of several studies suggest that an increase of 5µmol / L of homocysteine increases the risk of coronary heart disease by 60% in men and 80% in women.
Fighting colon cancers
There are only limited data on the cancer rate in vegans but some information is available for colon cancer in specific. This information suggests that followers of the vegan diet have a lower risk of colon cancer.
Meat-eaters consume less fiber than vegans. On the other hand, vegans get their protein portions from many plant-based foods such as grains and legumes. These foods are also rich in fiber, they ensure the health of our intestines. This is why unlike meat-eaters, vegans are less concerned with constipation and thus colon cancer.
A team of British researchers from the University of Oxford followed the diet of 10,998 men and women for 17 years.
The results show that vegans and vegetarians slightly reduce their risk of colon cancer: they are 15% less risk than non-vegetarians. But it is especially the fruits that seem to provide a real protective effect. Vegetarians who eat the most fruit, five or more a week, reduce their risk of cancer by 40%.
According to Miguel Sanjoaquin, author of the study, “fruits and vegetables are particularly rich in antioxidant substances that protect the body from free radical damage. On the other hand, we know that red meat, rich in saturated fat, increases the excretion of bile acids which in turn produce substances that can encourage the growth of tumors.
Type 2 diabetes is rarer and less likely to be a cause of death in vegans than in non-vegans.
This could be explained by the fact that the vegans are often fitter and closer to their ideal weight, which improves glucose tolerance. The higher proportion of foods with a low glycemic index and dietary fiber would also improve carbohydrate metabolism and reduce blood sugar.
Another study also suggests that the vegan diet improves blood sugar control in type 2 diabetics.
American researchers followed, for 22 weeks, 99 type-2 diabetics, 49 of whom received a vegan diet and the other 50 followed a normal diabetic diet.
Result: 43% of vegans and 26% of individuals in the control group reduced their medication for diabetes.
Conclusion: the vegan diet improves blood sugar control.