Vegans at Risk of Heart Disease?

Well this is interesting. Those running vegan restaurants may want to take note that their customers could be prone to heart disease. Yes, strange as it may seem since vegans don’t eat animal fat, a new study says that vegans have a high risk of heart disease.

Lack of Essential Vitamins

The study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry is hardly a surprise to anyone who lives a vegan lifestyle. According to the authors, the lack of certain essential vitamins and minerals commonly found only in fish or animal flesh is the culprit. Problems include low iron and zinc as well as a lack of vitamins B12 and Omega 3.

Low HDL, High Homocysteine

Specifically, the study, which was based on a review of dozens of published articles on the subject, concludes that vegans suffer from low levels of HDL as well as high levels of homocysteine.

HDL is of course the so called “good” cholesterol while homocysteine is a type of amino acid, high levels of which can be a risk for heart disease, according to the American Heart Association.

Results Disputed

Some scientists however dispute the findings of the study, pointing out for example that the low levels of HDL are not necessarily bad if they are accompanied by low levels of LDL since the entire purpose of HDL is to carry away the bad cholesterol. Since vegans don’t tend to eat much fat, these scientists claim that high HDL levels are not necessary.

Generally Recommended to Take Supplements

The bottom line, something which some vegans reject as “unnatural” is that those following a strictly vegan diet need to take supplements in order to keep their levels of essential minerals and vitamins at the right levels.

Other options (which is where restaurateurs may come in) include serving foods with higher levels of certain essential vitamins and minerals. Seaweed, flax and nuts are all known for example to be higher in Omega 3.

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