If you [...] pay attention to a few principles in your diet, you can cover [all] the nutrients well with a vegan diet.
Nutrients in the vegan diet
Vegans remove all animal products from their diet. That is not unhealthy per se or for them. On the contrary: Vegans often eat more consciously. However, some important sources of nutrients are also lost as a result. If, however, you pay attention to a few principles in your diet, you can cover these nutrients well with a vegan diet.
Focus on whole grain products
For cereal products such as bread, biscuits, breakfast cereals or pasta, rely on wholemeal products. They contain more nutrients than those made from white flour. Among other things, they are rich in iron, zinc, vitamin B2 and proteins, as the whole grain is used to produce them. Cereals include:
Buckwheat, quinoa and amaranth are not cereals, but are similarly rich in nutrients.
Mixing protein sources
In the vegan diet, there is no deficiency of vegetable protein and no deficiency in itself. However, individual plant foods usually do not contain all the essential amino acids that humans need to consume. In order for you as a vegan to absorb these important nutrients optimally, you should combine various vegetable protein sources. You don't necessarily have to eat the protein-containing foods together. It is sufficient if you eat them throughout the day. Particularly high in protein are:
Legumes such as beans, lentils, peas or chickpeas
Tofu and Tempeh
Nuts and seeds
Eating healthy fats
The body cannot produce omega-3 fatty acids by itself, so you need to take them with your diet. There are three types: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). ALA is found mainly in vegetable sources, DHA and EPA, on the other hand, exclusively in fatty sea fish. The body can produce DHA and EPA itself from ALA to a certain degree. Therefore, foods rich in ALA should not be missing from the vegan diet. These include:
Getting the most out of iron-rich foods
The human body cannot utilize iron from plant sources as well as animal iron. To cover this nutrient as a vegan, you need to help your metabolism. A simple trick is to combine iron-rich foods with vitamin C. Drink a glass of orange juice with your breakfast oatmeal, cut half a pepper over your spinach pan or make a lemon dressing into your salad. You should also be careful not to consume iron-containing foods with foods that can inhibit iron intake. These include coffee, black tea or red wine. It is better to enjoy them before or after meals.
Try out algae
An important source of iodine is fish and dairy products. As a vegan, you should therefore pay special attention to using iodised salt. Another good source of iodine is algae, such as nori leaves, which are also used for sushi. But be careful: Some varieties can contain a lot of iodine. A look at the packaging will help: The manufacturers usually indicate how much of the algae you can eat without any problems.
Eating selenium-containing foods
Selenium is one of the essential trace elements that your body absolutely needs. Theoretically, fruits and vegetables also contain this nutrient. However, the content always depends on how much selenium there is in the soil. In Europe, soils are rather poor in selenium. Therefore, take care to regularly consume selenium-containing foods. This includes Brazil nuts, but also various types of cabbage, onions, garlic, mushrooms and legumes.
Feeding the intestinal flora
In order to optimally absorb the nutrients from vegan foods, you should pay attention to a healthy intestinal flora. The intestine is colonized by numerous microorganisms that perform various tasks. Among other things, they can help to digest food better and make the nutrients important for vegans available to the body. You can feed your intestinal flora in two ways. Probiotic foods contain the important microorganisms. These include sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, kombucha and other fermented foods. Prebiotics are indigestible dietary fibres that serve as food for the microorganisms in your intestines. For example, they are found in onions, garlic, chicory, black salsify and bananas.