Do plant based diets deprive the brain of an essential nutrient?
Islamabad, APRIL 29 ,(Online): A recent article suggests that the growing trend towards plant based diets may put our brain health at risk. This is because choline, which is an essential nutrient, is largely missing from meat free eating plans.
An increasing number of studies are unraveling the benefits of plant based diets. Researchers are encouraging people to consume more and more fruits and vegetables, and more and more consumers are paying heed to this dietary advice.
For instance, just in the past couple of months, Medical News Todaypublished articles suggesting that plant based diets can cut the risk of cardiovascular disease risk by 32% and diabetes by 23%. Another article indicated that merely adding more fruits and vegetables to the diet may lower cancer risk and lengthen lifespan.
Consumers also seem to respond to these studies by making dietary changes. Although surveys show that the number of people who consider themselves vegans or vegetarians in the United States has stayed the same in almost a decade, people’s interest in plant based foods is likely to have grown in recent years.
“Based on the growth of the market and Gallup’s latest readings on vegetarianism and veganism, it appears Americans are eager to include alternatives to animal products in their diets,” the review concludes. However, it adds that people in the U.S. are not yet willing to give up animal products altogether.
In this context, a researcher has recently voiced concern over the growing trend towards plant based diets. Emma Derbyshire, Ph.D., a registered nutritionist and academic researcher, published an article in the journal BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health about this. In the article, she expresses worry that a deficiency in the essential brain nutrientcholine may accompany the move towards plant based diets.
Choline is “essential” in the sense that just like omega-3 fatty acids, the human body does not produce not enough to meet its nutritional requirements. Therefore, getting choline from dietary sources is crucial.
Derbyshire is also the founder of Nutritional Insight, a nutritionconsultancy firm in Surrey, United Kingdom.
Beef, eggs, dairy, fish, and chicken are the primary sources of this nutrient. Nuts, legumes, and vegetables, such as broccoli, contain the lowest amounts of choline.