Most people transition to a vegan diet due to either of the two reasons, health benefits or reduced environmental impact. The health benefits are weight loss, managing blood sugar levels, and the prevention or reduced risk of heart diseases, certain types of cancer, and chronic diseases. Often, people take these claims for granted without giving them a second thought. This is not a good way to adopt habits or practices that you plan to continue for a lifetime. So, the purpose of this article is to investigate control studies that were conducted to evaluate the vegan diet.
Study 1: The Effect Of Vegetarian Diet On Blood Lipids
This meta-analysis investigated 11 types of vegetarian diets, of which 7 were vegan diets, and it lasted for 3 weeks to 18 months.
Listed below are the changes that this study evaluated:
- Total cholesterol
- Triglyceride levels
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol
- Non-HDL cholesterol
The result from this meta-analysis showed that plant-based diets reduced blood cholesterol levels. That said, the vegan diet was not mentioned specifically. Furthermore, they did not find any effect of vegetarian diet on blood triglyceride levels.
Study 2: Impact Of American Heart Association (AHA) Diets On Obese Children With High Cholesterol Levels
This study involved obese children with high blood cholesterol levels and the parents of these children. Each child and parent pair were given either an AHA diet or a vegan diet for 4 weeks. Also, they had to attend weekly cooking lessons and classes specific to their diet. The results from both diet groups showed that there was a significant fall in their calorie intake. The group that followed the vegan diet consumed lower amounts of protein, vitamin D, vitamin B12, saturated fats, and cholesterol. Compared to AHA, the vegans consumed more fiber and carbs.
Children who followed the vegan diet had lower body mass index (BMI) than those who followed the AHA diet. The weight loss of children in the former group was 197% more than that of those in the latter group. Besides, HbA1c levels of parents in the vegan group were 0.16% lower; HbA1c is a measure of average blood sugar levels. Likewise, their LDL and total cholesterol levels were lower than the AHA group. The results show that eating a vegan meal has a greater impact on the weight of children, and cholesterol and blood sugar levels of parents. Furthermore, both diets reduced the risk of heart disease in both children and adults.
Study 3: Plant-Based Nutrition For Reducing Weight And Cardiovascular Health Risk In Corporate Setting
For this randomized controlled trial, 291 participants of 10 GEICO corporate offices were recruited. Employees of different offices were paired together; one was given a low-fat vegan diet, while the other was given the control diet for 18 weeks. Besides, the participants belonging to the vegan group were given vitamin B12 supplements weekly, and they were encouraged to eat food with a low glycemic index.
The results from this study showed that those who followed a vegan diet consumed more fiber, lower amounts of saturated fats, cholesterol, and total fat. Also, participants in this group lost an average of 4.3 kg over 18 weeks. In vegans, LDL or bad cholesterol dropped by 8 mg/Dl, while there was more increase in HDL or good cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels. Last but not least, in the vegan group, the HbA1c levels dropped by 0.7%.
Study 4: Effect Of Low-Fat Plant-Based Diet On Weight, Metabolism, And Insulin Sensitivity
In this study, overweight women were recruited as participants. These women were given either a low-fat vegan diet or low-fat control diet for 14 weeks. They could eat till they felt full because there was no calorie restriction. Also, the meals were prepared by the participants, and this was coupled with a weekly session for nutritional support.
Results from this study showed that the average weight loss of participants in the vegan group was 5.8 kg. Other changes include better blood sugar levels and improved insulin sensitivity. So, this study shows that following a vegan diet is the best option for weight loss in obese or overweight people.
Study 5: Two Year Randomised Weight Loss Trial That Compares Vegan Diet And Moderate Low-Fat Diet
This study is a continuation of the previous study, and it was conducted for 2 years. Half the participants received follow-up support for 1 year, while the other half did not receive support. Like the previous one, in this follow-up study, there were no calorie restrictions.
The results after 1 year showed that women in the vegan group lost an average of 4.9 kg, while the other group only lost only 1.8 kg in the same period. After 2 years, participants in both groups gained some weight. The weight loss of the former group averaged 3.1 kg, while that of the latter group was 0.8 kg.
It is obvious from these studies that eating a vegan meal has a significant effect on weight loss, reduces the risk of heart diseases, and helps to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.