A plant-based diet is a diet of every animal (as well as humans) based on nutrients derived from plants, including fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, but with some or no animal products.
According to the Medical School of Harvard, the latest scientific evidence shows that a plant-based diet rich in healthy fats, healthy proteins, whole grains, and vegetables lowers the risk of chronic diseases and weight gain.
Numerous other health experts also now promote different variations of plant-based diets, including the American Heart Association and American Cancer Society. Health authorities are saying that this diet is truly beneficial for both adults and children to increase their intake of essential nutrients while lowering “empty calorie” or excess intake.
It’s been proven that plant-based diet (close to some vegetarian diets in many ways) can protect against metabolic syndrome risk factors, coronary heart diseases, some cancers, hypertension, obesity, cardiovascular mortality, and type-2 diabetes.
Eating more plants, particularly fresh fruit and veggies, in place of things like packaged products and processed meats is thought to be one of the most valuable things we could do to help treat obesity and aid reverse the growing epidemic of obesity.
While this is a great reason to go plant-based, well-balanced diet — considering 2 out of each 3 American adults, and one out every 3 children is now obese or overweight— there are so other reasons to consume more plants, too. These include spending lesser on groceries overall, lowering the carbon footprint, reducing the risk for most chronic diseases, supporting organic agriculture, and much more.
About Plant-Based Diet
This diet is a modern take on many forms of healthy old-style diets, which relies on widely-available foods — including fruits, vegetables, starches like corn or potatoes, seeds, nuts, healthy fats like olives or coconut, and legumes/beans.
Examples of some popular plant-based diets include Vegan Diet, Macrobiotic Diet, Raw Diet, and one of my favorite diets –The Mediterranean Diet. More about why this amazing Italian diet is great for your health: http://yourhealthtube.com/live-like-an-italian-fight-health-issues/
According to a research from the University of Oxford Cancer Research Center, plant-based diets provide pretty high amounts of omega-6 fatty acids, complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, antioxidants (as folic acid and carotenoids), magnesium, vitamin C, and vitamin E. While this diet can be incredibly healthy, it sometimes takes certain planning to make sure you’re getting enough saturated fat, protein, retinol, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin B12.
Not ready to give up animal foods?
That is actually not a problem at all! You should know that not every plant-based diet is vegetarian or vegan. Many plant-based diets include quality animal food, but you should take it “in moderation”. In other words, certain foods like fish, meat, dairy, or eggs are not necessarily off-limits when you are consuming plant-based, they simply often take a back seat to consuming lots of unprocessed plant foods.
How Many Plants Should You Consume as Part of a Plant-based Diet?
It all depends since every person and plan is different. For example, some plant-based diets as the vegan diet and Ornish Diet, the “80-10-10 Diet” are very high in carbohydrate foods (like fruit, veggies, grains, and beans) but very low in protein and fat. Following some of these diets may mean you are getting about 60–80% of the daily calories from carbohydrate foods and 10% from proteins and fats.
Some other varieties, as the Mediterranean Diet or DASH Diet, may be around 40–60% carbohydrates, but include more proteins and healthy fats.
Health Benefits of Plant-Based Diet
Not only does this diet have amazing health benefits, it’s also really good for the planet. Consuming foods which are “lower on the food chain” has a lower carbon footprint, takes less natural resources to produce, reduces food scarcity globally, and spares the lives of livestock. Here is a brief list of the most impressive benefits of plant-based diet:
- High in fiber;
- High in anti-inflammatory foods;
- Lowers your risk of chronic diseases;
- Helps you maintain or reach a healthy weight, and
- It’s good for our environment
The Greatest Plant-Based Foods
The healthiest foods to include in a well-balanced, plant-based diet include:
Vegetables (and fruits as well as) are the base of every plant-based diet, so it is always recommended that you should consume an abundant variety. Veggies are fantastic nutrient-dense, full of antioxidants, low in calories, and tied to protection from heart disease, type 2 diabetes, weight gain, and many other chronic disorders.
- Fresh Fruits
You should try to eat 1 to 3 pieces of whole fruit (not fresh juice) each day. Fruits are low in calories, but full of antioxidants, water, fiber, and vitamins. Some of the greatest choices include kiwi, melon, berries, and tropical fruits.
- Whole Grains
They are a great source of minerals and fiber, but should be consumed in moderation. Unprocessed whole grains include 100% unprocessed/whole oatmeal, quinoa, barley, wild or brown rice, amaranth, millet, buckwheat, and much more. Most processed grains and wheat products used to make things like cookies, cakes, bread, etc. need to be avoided since they are low in nutrients, pro-inflammatory, and could contribute to issues like type 2 diabetes or weight gain.
- Healthy Fats
Healthy oils include coconut or extra virgin olive oil, sesame, hemp, avocado, palm, and flax oil. Coconut milk, avocado, seeds, and nuts are also great sources of plant-based healthy fat that help control the appetite and have numerous other health benefits for reducing inflammation.
- Healthy Proteins
Even though plants may take center stage, foods that are high in protein are also significant for retaining muscle mass, giving us energy, and much more. You should aim for high-protein foods, such as pasture-raised poultry, cage-free eggs, will-caught fish, grass-fed beef, seeds, nuts, and beans/legumes. Try to avoid processed meats (like not dogs, cold cuts, etc.) that are high in sodium and synthetic ingredients, plus tied to type 2 diabetes, weight gain, heart disease, and other health problems.
- Water and Unsweetened Drinks
To drink enough liquids and stay hydrated, consume spring water, tea, or coffee (in moderation). You should avoid most conventional milk, sweetened drinks, sweetened tea, most juices, and too much caffeine and alcohol.
How to Eat a Plant-Based Diet?
This diet is usually lower in calories than some other diets that are high in packaged goods and processed animal products. However, you do not need to count calories to consume a healthy diet — as an alternative, think in approximate servings and terms of portions.
Calorie needs usually vary from person to person, therefore it is significant to pay attention to your fullness cues/hunger — known as mindful eating. In order to eat more plants, you should aim for balance, keep an eye on portion sizes, and aim for variety overall.
In addition to consuming more plants for your overall health, it also makes sense to do certain other things like sleep well, exercise and reduce stress by doing some activities like prayer, meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, etc.
If you’re tired, often hungry and craving things like cookies, sweets, it is perhaps a good idea to include healthier fats and protein in your meals since this may be a sign of protein/fat deficiency or blood sugar fluctuations.
Surges in insulin and blood sugar can lead to hunger and overindulge in the long-term, many times causing hormonal imbalances or weight gain, so keep an eye out for this kind of symptoms.
There are various types of plant-based diets consumed around the world today, though most have in common restraining animal foods in favor of eating more vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, tubers, legumes, and whole grains.
Health benefits of eating more plant-based foods, along with eating fewer dairy products, meat, sugary snacks, and packaged foods, include protection against weight gain, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and autoimmune disorders.
The research found that plant-based diet is cost-effective, low-risk intervention, which can lower body mass index, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and HbA1C. Plant-based diets may also decrease the number of medicines required to treat many chronic diseases and lower cardiovascular disease mortality rate. According to US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, doctors should consider recommending this diet to all their patients, particularly those with diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, or cardiovascular disease.