Many people are surprised to learn that there are many ways to get enough vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients in a nutritionally-complete diet. Vegans have it even easier because we don’t need to worry about getting enough of certain vitamins (such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and B12) or minerals (such as iron, zinc, and calcium) since they are not present in animal-based foods. That said, eating a balanced plant-based diet is still the most nutritious way of meeting your nutritional needs. To get the most out of your vegan diet, you should focus on incorporating a variety of nutrient-dense foods rather than relying on isolated supplements. Here are some tips that can help you increase your intake of healthy vegan foods:
Add Nutrient-Dense Foods to Your Diet
If you are still unsure of which foods are good sources of specific vitamins and minerals, you can always add a few to your diet for a short time to kickstart your intake. Nutrient-dense foods are those that are high in vitamins and minerals and low in calories, sodium, and fat. If you are just starting out on a vegan diet, it is a good idea to start slowly by adding one or two additional foods each day, such as: – A small serving of fortified soy milk (this is one of the best vegan sources of vitamin B12) – 1-2 servings of fruit a day (for vitamin C) – 1-2 servings of a vitamin-rich vegetable a day (for example, vitamin A is present in carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli) – A serving of grains a day (for thiamin, niacin, and fiber). If you have trouble with consuming nutrient-dense food on a daily, try drinking water with chlorella powder added to it. Chlorella has many benefits due to it being rich in vitamins, minerals, and protein.
Choose High-Quality Fortified Plant-Based Foods
The majority of fortified plant-based foods are relatively low in fat, sodium, sugar, and calories and are a great way to boost your intake of certain nutrients such as calcium, iron, and zinc. They can also be a convenient way of getting a variety of vitamins and minerals since they are often fortified to contain a variety of nutrients. In addition to fortified soy milk, you can also find fortified almond milk, fortified coconut milk, fortified oat milk, fortified soya protein, and fortified cereal. You could try eating 2-3 servings of fortified plant-based foods a day to help increase your intake of certain vitamins and minerals.
Some of the best fortified plant-based foods include: – Fortified soy milk, almond milk, and other fortified plant-based milk are a good source of calcium and vitamin D. Drinking Soy milk and other fortified plant-based milk is a great way to increase your calcium intake since many people don’t consume enough of this mineral. – Fortified breakfast cereals such as fortified corn flakes and fortified bran flakes are a good source of B vitamins. – Fortified soy milk and soy yogurt are good sources of calcium and vitamin D, while fortified orange juice and fortified grape juice are good sources of vitamin C. – Fortified oat milk, fortified soya milk, and fortified almond milk are good sources of iron, while fortified hazelnut milk is rich in zinc. – Fortified legumes such as soybeans, fortified chickpeas, and fortified black-eyed peas are a good source of iron and zinc, while fortified lentils are a good source of fiber and iron. – Fortified potatoes (such as russet potato) are a good source of vitamin C. – Fortified cereals, tortillas, bread, pasta, and other fortified foods are a good source of B vitamins.
Dark, Leafy Greens are a Great Source of Calcium
Dark, leafy greens such as kale, swiss chard, spinach, mustard greens, and parsley are excellent sources of calcium, which is necessary for strong bones and teeth. It’s important to remember, however, that you don’t need to consume large amounts of calcium from just one type of food. A healthy vegan diet is typically rich in calcium from a variety of sources. If you are concerned about your calcium intake, you could try adding 1 cup of fortified almond milk or fortified soya milk to your daily breakfast.
Beans and Peas are Rich in Iron and Zinc
Beans and peas are rich sources of iron and zinc, both of which are important for optimal health. Iron is important for oxygen transport in your body, while zinc is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect your cells from damage and disease. Beans and peas are also a great source of fiber, which can help to prevent constipation and stabilize your blood sugar. A study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that vegans have a high fiber intake, which could help to prevent type 2 diabetes. It is recommended that vegans consume at least 25 grams of dietary fiber a day, which is easily achieved by eating 1 cup of beans and peas.
Fortified Breakfast Cereals are a Good Source of B Vitamins
Many breakfast bowls of cereal are fortified with B vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and magnesium. You can also find so-called “vegan” versions that are fortified with B12, which is not present in meat or fish. It’s important to remember that it’s not necessary to consume large amounts of B vitamins as a vegan since they are also present in a wide range of fruits and vegetables. Vegan versions of breakfast cereals are a good way of ensuring you are getting enough B vitamins since you probably don’t consume enough of them in a typical vegan diet. It’s also worth noting that fortified breakfast cereals are usually low in sugar, salt, and calories and is a good source of fiber.
Fortified Bread and Pasta are also Excellent Sources of B Vitamins
Many types of un-enriched bread and pasta are fortified with B vitamins, iron, and thiamin. This means you can enjoy a variety of nutrient-rich vegan foods, such as whole-wheat pizza, crusty bread, and pasta, while also getting an extra boost of B vitamins. It’s important to remember that fortified foods are still a high-calorie source of nutrients, so you don’t have to over-eat them if you don’t want to. It’s also worth mentioning that the majority of fortified plant-based foods are low in fat and sodium, making them an ideal option for people with high cholesterol or those who are trying to cut down on salt intake.
Be Aware of the Vegan Nutrients You Get From Food, Too!
If you still feel like you are missing out on important nutrients, you should also be mindful of the nutrients you get from consuming a wide range of nutrient-rich, vegan foods. A 2011 study of vegans, who consumed a mostly vegan diet, found that vegans had lower levels of serum cholesterol and lower blood pressure than meat-eaters. Although these findings suggest that vegans consume more nutrients than meat-eaters, more work needs to be done to determine just how much of an impact this has on health outcomes. Summary If you are new to a vegan diet, consider adding one or two nutrient-dense foods to your daily menu. You could try fortified soy milk, fortified breakfast cereals such as fortified corn flakes and fortified bran flakes, fortified legumes such as soybeans, fortified potato, fortified orange juice, or fortified grape juice, as well as fortified bread and pasta. If you are still feeling unwell, consider adding a multivitamin supplement to your daily diet.