What You Need To Know About Plant-Based Diet
What is a plant-based diet? What are the benefits of doing it? Can a person sustain doing it long term? What can I eat on a plant-based diet? Why should I try it? – These may be some of the questions that might be running in your head if you are planning to jump into going plant-based.
What is a Plant-based Diet
Whole Food Plant-Based (WFPB) diet or more commonly called as plant-based diet is an eating pattern focusing on foods that are primarily from plants. This means that it may include not only fruits and vegetables but also nuts, legumes, beans, oils, and grains.
To better understand the WFPB diet, let us understand the principles from which it came from:
Whole foods are foods that are not heavily processed, or it may have minimally refined to unrefined ingredients.
Plant-based are foods that are derived from plant and does not contain anything that is derived from animals like eggs, honey, milk, meat, etc.
Contrary to popular beliefs, going plant-based does not mean becoming vegetarian or vegan. The diet consumes dairy and meat together with whole food. In this diet, portions are coming largely from the plant-based foods than the rest of your food choices.
Benefits of Plant-based Diet
We know that the benefits of a healthy lifestyle are immense. Adopting a WFPB lifestyle can work well for you. Here are some of the good it will bring to you, as backed by science and research:
- Lower risk of cancers
Research suggests that a plant-based diet may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer like breast cancer, prostate cancer, etc.
In a study in over 69,000 people, it was found that diets rich in vegetables were linked to a significantly lower risk of gastrointestinal cancer https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3565018/
- Prevention of heart disease
One of the most popular benefits of the WFPB diet is probably heart disease prevention. Vegetables, especially green leafy ones, are high in Vitamin K, which are good for the arteries and promote proper blood clotting. They are also high in dietary nitrates, which aid in reducing high blood pressure and in decreasing arterial stiffness and improving the function of cells lining the blood vessels.
- Prevention and treatment for diabetes
Following a WFPB diet may be beneficial in managing and lowering your risk of diabetes.
In a study with over 200,000 people, it was found that those who adhered to a plant-based eating lifestyle had a 34% lower risk of having diabetes than those who followed a non-plant-based diet. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27299701
- Weight management
Obesity is rampant not only in the US but also in many other parts of the world. Fortunately, making lifestyle changes can help with weight loss and management.
In a review of 12 studies which included more than 1,100 people learned that those who were asked to do a plant-based diet lost significantly more than those assigned to the nonplant-based diet. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26138004
- Increased energy
As vegetables and fruits and other recommended food groups in the plant-based diet are all healthy but less calorie-dense, a person who adheres to eating these food feels lighter and therefore can move with more energy.
- Longer life
A healthy lifestyle is always equivalent to a longer life.
What to Eat on a Plant-based Diet
Here’s a list of the major categories one can consume on a plant-based diet.
Fruits: any type of fruit, including apples, bananas, berries, oranges. All kinds!
Vegetables: Kale, peas, peppers, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, corn, etc.
Whole grains: grains, cereals, grains, quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat, oats, barley, and popcorn (yes! Popcorn is a whole grain.)
Legumes: any kind of beans
Tubers: root crops which include potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, beets, turnips, parsnips, yam, cassava, etc.
Spices: all spices
Beverages: water, herbal teas, green tea, decaffeinated coffee.
You may also enjoy a variety of food like nuts, seeds, tofu and tempeh, bread from whole-grain flour, almond milk, soya milk or any plant-based milk. These foods, however, must be consumed in moderation because these are more calorie-dense and may contribute to faster weight gain
It is always a good idea to choose to live a healthier lifestyle, but whatever type of diet you may want to begin with, always make sure to check with your trusted professionals – your dietician, nutritionist, and your physician. This is especially true for those who may be having an existing medical condition.
Always choose to be healthy!