A plant-based diet includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. More and more health experts are emphasizing that eating a plant-heavy diet improves weight loss and reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Why is intensive plant nutrition so healthy?
Let’s take a look at the reasons why so many people adopt this lifestyle.
What is the difference between a vegan diet and a plant-based diet?
Vegan and plant-based diets are similar but differ in a couple of ways. A vegan diet eliminates all animal products. At the same time, although a plant-based diet focuses on eating plants, it does not stop all animal products. Many people who choose to eat a plant-heavy diet still eat meat or dairy once in a while.
The rules of a plant-based diet
The main principles behind eating a plant-heavy diet are:
- Eat unprocessed foods.
- Limit the consumption of animal products.
- Eat mostly vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, seeds, and nuts.
- Avoid white flour, sugar, and processed oils. Harmful chemicals are used during the processing of these oils.
- When the oil is removed from the seeds, oxidation occurs, which turns into trans fats.
- Try to eat organic foods and locally grown foods as much as possible.
Plant-based or plant-based food patterns focus primarily on foods derived from plants. This includes fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans.
This does not mean you are vegetarian or vegan and never eat meat or dairy products. Instead, you choose foods from plant sources proportionally more.
8 Ways to get started with a plant-based diet
Here are tips to help you get started on a plant-based diet.
- Eat lots of vegetables: Fill half your plate with vegetables at lunch and dinner. Be sure to include plenty of color in choosing your vegetables. Enjoy vegetables as a snack with hummus, salsa, or guacamole.
- Change the way you think about meat: Let them have smaller amounts. Use it as a garnish instead of the center.
- Choose good oils: Fats found in olive oil, olives, pea and walnut kernels, seeds, and avocados are particularly healthy choices.
- Cook a vegetarian meal at least once a week: Build these meals around beans, whole grains, and vegetables.
- Include whole grains for breakfast: Start with oatmeal, quinoa, buckwheat, or barley. Then add some nuts or seeds along with the fresh fruit.
- Go for the greens: Experiment with various green leafy vegetables daily, such as kale, sauerkraut, Swiss chard, spinach, and other greens. Steam, grill, braise, or stir-fry to preserve flavor and nutrients.
- Build a meal around the salad: Fill a bowl with salad greens like romaine, spinach, Bibb, or red leafy greens. Add an assortment of other vegetables, fresh herbs, legumes, crackers, or tofu.
- Eat fruit for dessert: A ripe, juicy cookie, a slice of watermelon, or a crunchy apple will satisfy your cravings for a sweet bite after a meal.
What can you eat on a plant-heavy diet?
Plant-dense nutrition has a wide range of food options. This is not a restricted diet. You won’t feel deprived or hungry. Eat these foods for meals and snacks.
- Vegetables: Leafy greens like collards, kale, and spinach. Corn, avocados, peppers, tomatoes, and squash.
- Fruits: Apples, strawberries, bananas, grapes, citrus fruits such as lemons, oranges, clementines, and lemons.
Root veggies: Potatoes, celery, beans, and sweet potatoes.
- Legumes: All legumes such as pinto, black, or kidney beans. Ribbons are also suitable.
- Whole grains: Oats, quinoa, brown rice, millet, or barley. Popcorn is a great whole-grain snack.
Grill, roast, or saute. Avoid frying if possible, as it contains trans fats. If you choose to fry your food, use olive or coconut oil.
Are there different types of plant-based diets?
Eating vegetarian does not mean not eating meat. There are many types of vegetarians, and each has specific foods that are allowed. Here are the main vegetarian diets.
- Vegan diet: No animal products are eaten in this diet. No meat, poultry, fish, eggs, or milk. Also, no gelatin or honey. Some vegans also avoid clothing such as silk, leather, or wool.
- Lacto-vegetarian diet: No meat, poultry, fish, or eggs. It is good to have milk, cheese, and yogurt.
- Ovo vegetarian diet: No meat, poultry, fish, or dairy. But eating eggs is good.
- Lacto-Ovo vegetarian diet: No meat, no poultry, no fish. Dairy products and eggs are fine.
- Pescetarian diet: Some people suggest that a pescetarian diet is not vegetarian. But because this diet includes many plants, some say it fits the definition of vegetarian. This diet prohibits meat, poultry, and other meats. This diet allows for fish and shellfish.
- A Flexitarian diet includes fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. He allows meat from time to time.
Benefits of eating a plant-heavy diet
You might be surprised at how many benefits there are to eating a plant-based diet. Since plants, vegetables, whole grains, and seeds are packed with nutrition, this makes sense. Here is a list of reasons you should consider eating a plant-based diet.
1. Lower blood pressure
High blood pressure, or hypertension, can increase the risk of health problems, including heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Fortunately, the foods you eat can make a difference. Several studies have shown that following a plant-based diet can lower blood pressure and thus lower your risk for these conditions.
A meta-analysis examined data from 39 studies and concluded that people who followed a vegetarian diet had, on average, lower blood pressure than those who followed omnivorous diets, including plants and meat.
And another study found that vegetarians had a 34 percent lower risk of developing hypertension than non-vegetarians.
2. It Makes it easier to manage your weight
Eating plant-based foods not only helps you lose weight but also helps you keep it off. Plant-based diets are high in fiber, so you feel full without eating all the calories. You can quickly get 25-30 grams of fiber per day. This is the American Heart Association’s recommendation for adults.
But be careful. It’s easy to lose track of how much fat you eat in salads, sauces, or drizzling. A cup of olive oil packs 2,000 calories, but a cup of brown rice is just 130 calories. Find creative ways to dress and saute without oil.
3. Gives you better heart health
Animal products are a high source of fat in the US diet. Eating a diet high in fat increases the risk of heart disease and related heart problems. According to research, plant-based diets are associated with a lower risk of heart disease and improvement in those with heart disease.
A meat-free diet reduces the risk of heart disease by up to 40%. Switching to a plant-rich diet can differentiate between a heart-disease-free life or a healthy life plagued by heart problems.
4. Prevents type 2 diabetes
Insulin is a hormone found in your body. It keeps your growth in check, but insulin can predispose adults to diseases like type 2 diabetes when insulin gets out of control. Type 2 diabetes means your body doesn’t produce enough insulin or is insulin resistant.
Maybe you’ve always been thirsty or need to try many things. Fatigue and blurred vision are other symptoms of type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is increasing worldwide. A sedentary lifestyle, eating meat and other animal fats, refined grains, and sugary foods contribute to this increased rate of type 2 diabetes.
Research shows that lifestyle changes can prevent and even reverse type 2 diabetes, especially your diet. Existing type 2 diabetes is easier to control on a plant-heavy diet.
5. You will live longer
You tend to live longer when plants are part of your staple diet. As a result of research, vegetarianism, that is, eating mainly plants, increases longevity. This is because including plants in your diet puts you at a lower risk of fatal diseases and obesity. It is the leading cause of death in the United States.
To avoid exposure to pesticides and other chemicals, it is imperative to choose high-quality fruits and vegetables, especially organic ones, whenever possible. If you buy non-organic foods, wash them properly to remove dirt and toxins.
6. Reduce your chances of getting cancer
Eating a diet of red meat and processed meat increases the risk of some types of cancer. But a plant-rich diet reduces the risk of some cancers. While not all cancers are affected by your diet, overeating red meat can lead to esophageal, lung, pancreatic, prostate, and endometrial cancers, according to researchers.
7. Reduce your arthritis pain
Arthritis inflammation can be debilitating. Inflammation is also linked to heart problems and certain types of cancer. Plants contain carotenoids, flavonoids, and phytonutrients that reduce free radicals in our bodies that cause DNA damage.
This damage results in susceptibility to disease and inflammation. Try eating a meat-free diet monthly to see if it reduces inflammation. You may be surprised at how good you feel.
The health benefits of a vegetarian diet have been linked to a lower risk of many chronic diseases. However, not all vegetarians will benefit from these benefits similarly. The most important thing is to eat a healthy diet, not just a vegan or vegetarian diet.
8. Lowers cholesterol
In general, livestock products are high in saturated fat. Animal products contain saturated fat. These meats are high in saturated fat.
- Meat fat
- Melon with skin
- Other dairy products
Saturated fats raise cholesterol, which puts you at risk for all kinds of diseases. Plant-based diets are low in saturated fat and lack cholesterol. These vegetable oils
- Sunflower oils
- Soybean oil
- Olive oil
- Safflower oils
Plants fast have a higher amount of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Plants are also high in soluble fiber, which lowers your cholesterol. Plant-dense diets improve your overall heart health.
Researchers have also found that when people who have had a heart attack start eating a plant-based diet, they reverse coronary artery disease and lower their chances of having a second heart attack.
9. Protects your brain
Your brain is your body’s primary organ, so health and function are paramount. Eating a plant-based diet improves brain health by reducing artery-clogging high cholesterol. It restricts blood flow to the brain.
Plants are also high in vitamins and minerals that protect your brain. Researchers also claim that high-fiber plant-based diets improve your gut health. The brain-gut connection is something researchers are studying, but what they do know is that a healthy gut results in a healthy brain.
Add vitamin B12 to your plant-rich diet to promote optimal brain health. It is the only vitamin that cannot be found in plants. So unless you add some meat to your diet, it’s essential to include it in your overall diet.
10. Easier on your budget
Food costs in the United States continue to rise. Usually, meat products have become more expensive. When you switch to a plant-based diet, your food costs will drop immediately. At the grocery store, fruits and vegetables cost less than meat. You can also buy them at the farmer’s market or grow them in your backyard.
Canned legumes like oatmeal, popcorn, rice, and other whole grains are low-cost healthy foods. If you switch to a meat-free diet, you’ll spend less on food. If nothing else, this is a great reason to try a diet rich in plants and vegetables.
11. Provides more fiber
Diets rich in plants are higher in fiber than diets full of animal products. Fiber from whole plant foods protects your gastrointestinal health, improves cardiovascular health, and boosts immunity.
One study found that 90% of adults in the US do not get the 25-30% fiber recommended by the American Heart Association in their diet. High-fiber plants include:
- Whole grains
The same study reported that eating a high-fiber diet can save up to 70% to 80% on medical costs such as procedures and medications.
12. Limits exposure to antibiotics
Did you know that eating a diet high in animal products makes you susceptible to antibiotic-resistant infections? All livestock in the United States is treated with antibiotics to keep them healthy from common environmental conditions.
A study notes that this practice significantly contributes to the rise in antibiotic-resistant infections in the United States. More than 2 million Americans die each year from these antibiotic-resistant infections. With this information in mind, switching to a vegetable-based diet makes sense.
13. Less risk of foodborne illness
Every year, Americans are exposed to foodborne illnesses found in dairy products, meat, poultry, and wild boar. You lower your risk of foodborne illness by eliminating these foods from your diet.
Sometimes plants get a foodborne illness like salmonella, but washing them properly makes your plants safer. Wash your fruits and vegetables well, or choose organic to avoid poisoning from pesticides or other chemicals. The vegetable wash recipe is easy to make:
- Two cups of cold water
- 1/4 cup cumin
- Three tablespoons of lemon juice
Mix and sprinkle over your veggies and fruits. Let it sit for a few minutes, then rinse under cold water.
14. Reduces the risk of breast cancer
Breast cancer is a growing concern of American women. According to researchers, a meat-free or at least plant-rich diet can reduce breast cancer by up to 32%. They also suggest that women with breast cancer have a plant-rich diet and minimal exercise during treatment. This can help reduce your chances of getting cancer later.
15. Strengthen the immune system
A nutrient-rich plant-based diet boosts immunity. Plant-based diets are high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These diets fight free radicals that attack your DNA.
It lowers your immune response to disease-causing diseases and environmental toxins. Plants are full of everything you need to have a healthy, robust immune system to protect your body.
16. Helps your eyesight
Plants are your eyes’ best friends. Vegetables like spinach, kale, corn, and celery are full of vitamin A and the pigments lutein and zeaxanthin, which promote eye health. They help fight eye diseases like cataracts and macular degeneration. Maybe the old story about rabbits having good eyes because of carrots is true?
17. Improves your skin
Everyone wants better-looking skin. Reducing the number of animal products you eat lowers your saturated fat intake. A plant-based diet increases vitamins, pigments, and phytochemicals that improve your skin.
For example, lycopene in tomatoes protects your skin from sun damage. Sweet potatoes contain vitamin C. It helps in the production of collagen. It reduces wrinkles on your skin.
18. Lowers the risk of colorectal cancer
Gut health seems to be the latest talking point. Plant-rich diets improve your gut health with their high fiber content and ability to reduce inflammation.
A high-fiber diet lowers cholesterol and balances blood sugar, helping the intestines function correctly and reducing the risk of colorectal cancer. A good gut means good overall health.
19. Reduce exposure to chemicals
When you eat a diet high in meat, you are exposed to chemical impurities when cooking the meat. The core must be cooked to a certain level to kill bacteria and other contaminants. These chemicals create carcinogens that cause cancer and heart disease.
Grilling your meat is often the biggest culprit for overdoing it. If you cringe, you’ve thrown yourself into the dirt. If you choose to eat meat in your diet, use a meat thermometer to see when it is fully cooked instead of waiting for it to brown completely.
20. You will master iron properly
There are two types of iron found in foods. These include heme iron, found in meat, fish, poultry, and non-heme iron, found only in plants. Heme iron is absorbed in a faster rate than non-heme iron.
When you pair plant-based proteins together, you increase the absorption of non-heme iron. You can create high non-heme iron-rich dishes with these plant-based pairings.
- Hot black beans over brown rice
- Hearty lentil soup and a side of whole-wheat bread
- Chopped hay on top of a bowl of oatmeal
Plant proteins ensure that you don’t get too much iron at once. Excess iron increases the risk of colorectal cancer, atherosclerosis, and low insulin sensitivity.
But how do I know if I’m getting enough nutrition?
To ensure you’re getting the proper nutrition from your plant-dense diet, a good rule of thumb is to ensure half your plate is fruit and vegetables. This will ensure you get fiber, potassium, magnesium, iron, and folate.
Add legumes such as beans or chickpeas to the plant for amino acids, fiber, calcium, zinc, and selenium. Eating 1 1/2 cups of legumes per day is recommended for optimal health. Add chickpeas, whole grains, and seeds for high protein, vitamin E, and plant sterols. Your daily recommendation for nuts and seeds is 1-2 servings.
Nuts and seeds are high in healthy fats, plus extra fiber. Add herbs and spices instead of salt for different flavors. You won’t go hungry if you include the right amount of these nutrient-dense foods in this plant-based diet.
Are there any downsides to a plant-based diet?
Are there any downsides to a plant-rich diet? Yes and no. The most significant criticism of plant-dense diets is the lack of vitamin B12. It is mainly found in animal products rather than plants. Vitamin B12 protects your brain. Too little vitamin B12 impairs your cognitive development and performance.
One study found that 50% of vegetarians were deficient in vitamin B12 during a blood test. Therefore, taking a vitamin B12 supplement is recommended, especially if you do not eat meat at least once a week.
The only negative result of eating a plant-based diet was a higher risk of a heart attack. After much research into this strange phenomenon, doctors discovered that lifestyle and low vitamin B12 were significant factors in stroke victims.
So, if you plan to eat a plant-based diet, include animal products at least once a week or take a vitamin B12 supplement so that any deficiencies in your body can be corrected.
Don’t smoke, and incorporate exercise into your lifestyle for the best results with any diet. Before choosing to eat a plant-rich diet, you should weigh the bottom line of this diet.
Fortunately, these risks are easily mitigated by including unprocessed animal products in your diet or by taking a supplement.
Final thoughts on choosing to eat a plant-based diet
Choosing a meat-free diet is a big decision. It is essential to understand the different types of diets. A plant-based diet has many health benefits.
Whole foods, plant-based diet is a way of eating that celebrates plant foods and cuts out unhealthy ingredients like added sugars and refined grains. Plant-based diets have been linked to several health benefits, including reducing your risk of heart disease, certain cancers, obesity, diabetes, and cognitive decline.
Switching to a more plant-based diet is an excellent choice for the planet. Regardless of the type of whole foods you choose, a plant-based diet, adopting this way of eating will boost your health.
A meat-free diet has been proven to improve your health by lowering your chances of heart disease and cancer, controlling blood sugar, and lowering blood pressure. When eating a plant-based diet, exposure to harmful antibiotics and carcinogens is limited.
Eating a diet high in plants will also do the best for your skin and vision. Of course, there are a few negatives to consider when going vegetarian. For example, vitamin B12 deficiency leads to stroke.
Fortunately, these are easily fixed by eating meat occasionally or taking a vitamin B12 supplement. With so many health experts emphasizing the benefits of eating a plant-based diet, it only makes sense to try this diet. So go for this diet and enjoy your new health.