The vegan diet is associated with a number of health benefits largely attributed to its high intakes of plant based foods such as fruit and veggies. As a result, veganism is gaining increasing popularity and becoming synonymous with “healthy”. Businesses are capitalising on this diet trend, however not all vegan foods are healthy. Below are 4 things you must know when buying vegan treats.
Vegan treats can be highly processed##
Some vegan treats can be loaded with not so healthy ingredients such as sugar, high amounts of poor quality fats such as canola oil which promote inflammation, artificial flavours and colours and refined flours. Don’t just assume because it’s vegan the ingredients are clean. Always read the ingredients list first. Mmmore raspberry power cubes are a great vegan snack because they only contain these wholefood ingredients: almonds, coconut, dates, macadamias, raspberries, organic maple syrup.
They can be high sources of calories##
Many popular healthy vegan treats contain high amounts of fat from nuts and coconut based products combined with high amounts of sugar. Even if the sugar comes from natural sources such as dates, they still contain high amounts of sugar which spike your blood sugar levels, raise insulin and will still end up being stored as fat if not burnt up as energy. Furthermore, high sugar and high fat combinations are more likely to cause weight gain if not eaten in small amounts. Remember that just because the ingredients are clean, they are still treats and should be eaten in moderation.
They can be high GI##
Just because it's plant based, don’t mean that they contain wholefood ingredients that are packed with fibre. Refined flours and starches are considered vegan and can also spike your blood sugar levels quickly, promoting fat storage, cause energy slumps and sugar craving. Watch out for high amounts of refined flours such as white flour, rice flour, tapioca starch in addition to refined and simple sugars such as agave syrup, corn syrup, and molasses.
They can lack protein##
Protein is important because it keeps you feeling full and your blood sugar levels stabilised. Many animal based foods such as eggs, whey and yoghurt are protein rich making them easy adds to snacks and treats. Plant based foods, however, are less protein rich and can often be higher carb and fat based. When it comes to snacks, protein is always important and thus should always be considered however less important when enjoying a treat sparingly. High plant based proteins include, nuts, black beans (e.g. black bean brownies) and chickpea powders.
Like with any diet, there are always pros and cons and dietary concerns that should be considered. Ensuring quality and quantity is always a constant and as long as you are consuming a healthy wholefood diet most of the time, balance is key and there is always room for a not so healthy treat.