The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)

The unhealthy vegan diet

- Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic.

Billie Eilish, Woody Harrelson and Mayim Bialik are vegans — and they look like they’re thriving. But according to a study in the journal Nutrients, 53% of vegans don’t eat a healthy diet. Seems that they dine on processed fish and meat alternativ­es, savory vegan snacks, sauces, cakes and other sweets, convenienc­e foods, fruit juices and refined grains.

Those vegans who primarily chose unhealthy foods have a 29% higher risk of overall mortality, up to 51% higher risk of being overweight or obese, a 29% higher risk of cardiovasc­ular disease and 74% higher risk of Type 2 diabetes than vegans who ate a healthy diet containing far more vegetables, fruit, protein alternativ­es, 100% whole grains, and healthy vegetable oils and fats. Bonus: Adding a healthy serving of physical activity to that more nutritious vegan diet delivers health and longevity benefits that are even greater.

Tips: If you’re vegan, a healthful diet needs to supply vitamin B12, calcium, iodine and iron, so you may need supplement­s. And you need to eat plants with lots of ALA (an omega-3 fatty acid); it’s in flax, chia seeds, avocados, and walnuts. That’s because the body can convert ALA to EPA and DHA, two omega-3s that help fight inflammati­on and boost immune and heart health. However, salmon, sea trout, sardines and herring deliver them directly — that’s why I’m plant-based, not vegan. So, if you’re vegan, pay careful attention to your food sources ... or join me in a plant-based, salmon lovin’ diet.

Health pioneer Michael Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer emeritus at the Cleveland Clinic and author of four No. 1 New York Times bestseller­s. His next book is “The Great Age Reboot: Cracking the Longevity Code for a Younger Tomorrow.” Do you have a topic Dr. Mike should cover in a future column? If so, please email questions@ GreatAgeRe­

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