Vegan or Paleo: What you Need to Know for Good Health
You may be surprised to learn that both diets can offer good health benefits, provided you curate them carefully and consider possible pitfalls.
That's because a healthy diet can take many forms. There is no single way to eat for good health, and people respond to diets differently.
Some people may feel great on a vegan diet, while others prefer a paleo diet.
But you do need to consider what's excluded on each diet if you follow it strictly:
Traditionally, the paleo diet allows you to eat lean meats and encourages healthy fats and low-glycemic plant foods, but excludes all whole or refined grains, legumes, certain healthful fruits and vegetables, and dairy.
Excluding entire food groups is not recommended by nutrition experts and here you could miss out on healthy fiber, B vitamins, vitamin D, calcium, and a great source of plant protein.
A traditional vegan diet includes grains and legumes and encourages healthy fats and a wide range of plant foods, but excludes meat, dairy, and other animal products. Getting sufficient vitamin D and calcium may not be easy, but the major problem is vitamin B12 deficiency unless you use supplements.
In what ways are both of these diets healthy?
Each of these eating plans includes lots of vegetables and reduces consumption of highly processed foods.
They can also mix and match other high-quality fats (nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil) and carbohydrates (fruits and vegetables, though the selection is more limited on a paleo diet).
High-quality protein can be delivered through plants (legumes and soy for vegan diets) or animals (fish, lean sustainably raised meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy for paleo diets). Essentially, it takes a varied diet to get all of the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals required for optimal health, but many combinations of foods can get you to that goal.
In fact, a number of recent studies have found that the quality of the food you eat particularly emphasizing whole foods over processed foods is more important than whether it's low-fat, low-carb, or somewhere in between.
Do keep this thought in mind: while there are a number of healthy ways to follow both diets, there are plenty of unhealthy combinations as well.
After all, a diet consisting of nothing but Skittles is technically vegan, while eating multiple daily servings of red meat can be paleo. Neither is recommended.
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