Local markets are a great source of organic, home-grown fruit and vegetables to incorporate into a plant-based diet. Picture: pxhere.com

A VEGAN diet is a plant-based diet that excludes all animal derived products such as meat eggs, dairy and fish.

It is different from a vegetarian diet in that some vegetarians still consume eggs and dairy.

There are many health benefits to eating a vegan or a plant-based diet. A vegan diet would consist of all variety of plant-based whole foods, nuts, seeds, fruit and grains as well as legumes.

* A vegan diet is extremely rich in all the major nutrients needed by your body:

Being whole food and derived from fresh plant-based sources, a vegan diet will contain high levels of all the critical nutrients needed by your body.

These nutrients are not available in animal and dairy or fish derived foods to the same extent. Keep away from nutrient poor vegan fast-food options - they are usually depleted of the right balance of nutrients.

* Vegan diet can help you lose excess fat:

Numerous studies are now proving that a vegan diet is a healthier option if you need to lose any excess fat you are carrying.

Compared to a standard Western diet, the vegan diet outperforms a calorie-restricted diet and even if not followed strictly it will still give impressive fat losses.

* Vegan diet can lower blood glucose levels and improve renal function:

Many studies are now confirming that a vegan diet reduces blood sugar levels and can improve renal function. Due to the numerous fibres in the vegan diet, regulation of blood glucose is more easily achieved.

Renal function also improves on a vegan diet and may be useful for diabetics with early renal disease.

The vegan plant-based diet can also reverse the symptoms of polyneuropathy so common among diabetics.

* Vegan diet may protect you against cancers:

More than 96 studies across the world show that a vegan diet can lower your risk for developing and or dying from a cancer.

The rich spectrum of nutrients such as carotenoids, flavonoids and cruciferous nutrients are cancer-defence nutrients found in a whole food vegan diet.

* Vegan diet lowers your risk of heart disease:

A vegan diet can lower your risk of heart disease by 42%. This is largely due to the complete spectrum of nutrients contained in a vegan diet that lowers LDL (the bad cholesterol), and reduces inflammation in the body. A vegan diet can also lower your risk for developing high blood pressure by 75%. A vegan diet reduces almost all the risk factors for heart disease.

* A vegan diet is anti-inflammatory:

Vegan diets can substantially reduce the inflammatory symptoms of pain, redness and swelling in joints. Arthritics following a vegan diet reported sustainable improvement in pain, stiffness of joints and swelling. Their general quality of life improved greatly on a sustained vegan diet.

* Cooppan practices in Morningside, Durban, as an Integrative Medicine, Nutritional and Natural Medicine GP. You can check this website for more info www.drcooppan.com​