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  • When you go vegan, does

  • that automatically mean that you are eating a healthier diet?

  • A lot of people wonder

  • because there is such a thing as a junk food vegan.

  • But overall, how are we doing when we ditch meat

  • and we ditch dairy?

  • My guest today

  • wanted to answer

  • that very question, so

  • she and her team of researchers set out to do so.

  • An incredible new paper has just been published.

  • Our director of clinical research, Dr.

  • Hana Kahleova is here to share her findings

  • with us on The Exam Room.

  • Dr. Kahleova, thanks so very much for being here.

  • Thanks for having me, Chuck.

  • Really interesting topic.

  • I'm curious about this one because I think as we have seen

  • this explosion of interest in eating a plant-based diet,

  • we've also seen this explosion of products in grocery stores,

  • a lot of which people would say, well,

  • that's not necessarily healthy.

  • So what did you guys discover in terms of when people go vegan?

  • The effect that has on their diet.

  • You're exactly right.

  • You know, many people think, well,

  • the vegan diet is just amazing.

  • But what guarantee do you have

  • when you go vegan that your diet will be healthier?

  • Well, so we looked into

  • the diet quality on a on a vegan diet.

  • And let's explore what we found.

  • Let me share my screen with you.

  • Got it right there.

  • Yeah.

  • So we know that a vegan diet is amazing.

  • It's great for your health.

  • It's great for the animals and also for the environment.

  • And yet, when we talk about the health

  • aspects, many of the opponents of vegan diet say, well,

  • but wait a minute,

  • we cannot recommend to everyone to go vegan

  • because they will eat a lot of junk food.

  • So, you know, when

  • when you go vegan, what guarantee do you have that

  • that people will

  • actually eat the healthy diet and not the junk?

  • So this is something we looked into.

  • How do you even define the diet quality?

  • It turns out that there is a trend

  • that the researchers at Harvard Medical School

  • invented a tool that may be useful,

  • which is called the Alternate Healthy Eating Index.

  • All or the HPI.

  • And they updated the index.

  • So the updated version is from from the year 2010.

  • And the idea is just let's

  • give positive points to people for eating healthy foods

  • and negative points for eating unhealthy foods.

  • And the healthy foods are the fruits and vegetables

  • and whole grains and legumes and nuts and seeds as sources of

  • healthy fats

  • and the unhealthy foods in this particular

  • index are the red and processed meats, the sodas,

  • the sources of trans fats, although they have been

  • gradually eliminated, did come from our diet.

  • There's still some processed foods that contain them

  • and also also sources of sodium in our diets,

  • such as cheese and olives and potato chips.

  • So these would be the unhealthy foods.

  • And we

  • use this particular index when

  • when, you know, when when people go vegan.

  • So we conducted a randomized clinical trial

  • and took 244 overweight adults.

  • And we assign them randomly to either follow a low

  • fat vegan diet that consisted of fruits and vegetables

  • and grains and legumes for 16 weeks

  • or the other half of the of the participants

  • stayed on their usual diet for 16 weeks.

  • And now we measured the diet quality using the alternate

  • healthy eating index that I just described.

  • And what did we find out?

  • What happened to people who went vegan?

  • What happened to their diet quality?

  • It turns out that the diet quality

  • significantly improved on the vegan diet

  • by seven points, which was more than 10%.

  • And this is good news, right?

  • And we the the junk

  • food was not necessarily forbidden on the vegan diet.

  • We were encouraging them to eat to make the healthy options,

  • but they were still allowed

  • to eat it, eat sugar, for example, and

  • eat processed foods and eat without any

  • any attempts to improve their diet quality.

  • The diet quality actually improved.

  • This improvement in diet quality was also associated

  • with their weight loss, their improvement

  • in body composition because they were losing

  • most of their weight loss was diet due to fat loss

  • and also improvements in insulin sensitivity.

  • So the improvement in diet quality had really implications

  • for their cardio metabolic health

  • and their weight management.

  • Now the second question is when people

  • switch to a vegan diet, when they start eating fruits

  • and vegetables and whole grains and legumes,

  • what out of these foods will tip the scales the most?

  • That means

  • which of the foods are most important for weight loss?

  • Is it the foods that you don't eat

  • that are the animal foods

  • on a vegan diet, or is it the foods that you

  • actually eat on a vegan diet?

  • Which one?

  • Which foods are the most important ones?

  • And we found out there were

  • two main predictors of weight loss on a vegan diet.

  • While all of the foods are excellent that you that you eat

  • on a vegan diet, fruits and grains

  • and legumes and vegetables, all of them are great,

  • but some of them

  • seem to be more important for weight loss than others.

  • So the number one predictor of weight loss

  • was not eating any meat.

  • No meat, no poultry, no fish.

  • That was the number one predictor of weight loss.

  • And the second most important

  • predictor of weight loss was eating your beans,

  • your beans and lentils and peas and all the legumes.

  • So both are important,

  • not only not eating the meat and the junk,

  • but also eating the healthy stuff, particularly

  • when it comes to beans that are a superfood.

  • Based on our research study findings.

  • That's a really interesting finding here,

  • and I'm glad that you did this study.

  • Couple of quick follow up questions for you.

  • Number one, right away, I noticed that

  • fruit juices were considered to be unhealthy at the time.

  • A lot of people would say, well, orange juice.

  • I drink that every morning with my breakfast.

  • That's healthy, right?

  • Why are fruit juices categorized as unhealthy for

  • the purposes of this study?

  • That's a great question.

  • For this particular index, the researchers decided

  • to group fruit juice among the unhealthy foods.

  • But we can definitely have a discussion

  • when you squeeze out their orange juice in the morning.

  • It's much different from,

  • you know, sugary drink that has only 12% of orange juice.

  • So you need to be distinguishing between these.

  • But generally speaking, there is a controversy.

  • Another aspect to consider is that

  • let's say you want to eat

  • one glass of orange juice every single morning.

  • One aspect to consider is that many people tend

  • to overdo it with it with the orange juice.

  • First of all, they don't usually drink

  • the orange juice that's freshly squeezed.

  • They buy it, you know, in a

  • in a tetra pack. And

  • that way, the nutrient content

  • and also the fiber content is not so great.

  • You would usually most of the fruit juices

  • that you can buy in a grocery store are devoid of fiber.

  • And yet you can you can find some brands

  • that include the pulp.

  • So those would include the fiber

  • and would be healthier options.

  • So there is a variety

  • among the fruit juice products.

  • The best ones would be the ones that you make at home,

  • you know, freshly squeezed

  • or even a smoothie where you put tofu fruit.