A plant-based diet is one where you consume foods sourced from plants. You may either include only such foods in your diet or eat mostly foods from plant sources. Advocates of this diet say that many chronic health complications can be controlled, reduced and reversed if you follow a plant-based diet. This diet can reduce your risk of diseases like diabetes, heart disease, some cancers and many other serious health disorders. It can also increase your energy levels, reduce inflammation and boost overall health.
But scientists from the American College of Cardiology say that not all plant-based diets are healthy. Some may, in fact, increase your risk of heart diseases. Journal of the American College of Cardiology published this study. According to researchers, all plant foods are not equal, and certain plant foods like refined grains and sugar and sweetened beverages are associated with a higher risk of cardio-metabolic diseases.
Difference between a vegan and a plant-based diet
Many people today confuse a plant-based diet with a vegan diet. But this is misleading. A vegan diet is a plant-based diet that excludes all animal and animal products. But when we talk about a plant-based diet, we also include diets that mostly includes foods sourced from plants.
It can include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes. On rare occasions, it can also include meat, fish and dairy products. The focus here is on healthy whole foods. This diet has no place for high-calorie processed foods. As such, this diet comes with a whole range of health benefits.
Let us look at a few benefits of a plant-based diet.
This diet is great for weight loss
People who eat plant-based diets have a lower body mass index (BMI) and lower rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease than those who follow other type of diets. This is because a plant-based diet is rich in fibre, complex carbohydrates and water content since it consists of mostly fruits and vegetables. This also increases the sense of satiety and prevents a person from overeating.
According to researchers from the University of Florida, eating a serving of broccoli or leafy greens may help people battle metabolic processes that lead to obesity and heart diseases. The Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics published this research. Eating more plant-based foods, which are rich in substances called phytochemicals, seems to prevent oxidative stress in the body, a process that is known to cause obesity and the onset of related diseases.
A plant-based diet can boost heart health
A recent study from the American Heart Association says that middle-aged adults who followed diets high in foods sourced from plants and low in animal products had a lower risk of heart diseases and a lower risk of dying from a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular diseases. The Open Access Journal of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, the Journal of the American Heart Association, published this study.
People who ate the most plant-based foods overall had a 16 per cent lower risk of having cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks, stroke, heart failure and other conditions, a 32 per cent lower risk of dying from a cardiovascular disease and a 25 per cent lower risk of dying from any cause compared to those who ate the least amount of plant-based foods. But for this, you must ensure that the foods you choose are rich in nutrition and low in added sugars, sodium, cholesterol and saturated and trans fats.
It reduces the risk of diabetes
If you eat foods mostly sourced from plants, you will experience an improvement in insulin sensitivity. This will also reduce insulin resistance.
A plant-based diet is linked to overall wellbeing, better quality of life, weight loss and lower blood glucose. This diet is associated with improved psychological wellbeing, a reduction in some of the known risk factors for type 2 diabetes, and possibly some of those linked to cardiovascular diseases, one of the main causes of early death in people with diabetes, says a study in the journal BMJ. This study also showed significant improvement in nerve pain in diabetic patients who followed this kind of diet.
Are you ready for the switch to a plant-based diet?
With so many benefits of this diet, it makes sense to consciously try and include more plant-based foods to your diet.
You can have all types of fruits. But be sure to eat nutrient rich berries, citrus fruits, apples, grapes, bananas and melons. Go for colourful vegetables and introduce variety in your diet. Vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals. You can have broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, carrots, tomatoes, kale, beetroot, asparagus and zucchini among others.
Don’t ignore root vegetables as these are a rich source of carbohydrates and vitamins. Have a lot of sweet potato, potatoes, beetroots and squash. Legumes are an indispensable part of a plant-based diet. They are rich in fibre and plant-based protein. So, include a lot of kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils and peas in your diet.
Seeds and nuts are excellent sources of many essential nutrients like calcium and vitamins. Be sure to munch on pumpkin, chia, hemp and flax seeds when you feel like having a snack. You may also add them to a bowl of salad or soup for that extra punch. Nuts can provide you with protein and vitamins like selenium and vitamin E. So, have a lot of almonds, cashews, pecans and pistachios.
Walnuts, chia seeds, olive oil, avocados and flax seeds also contain polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, as well as omega-3 fatty acids. Whole grains like oats, quinoa, buckwheat and brown rice are a rich source of fibre and essential minerals like magnesium, copper and selenium.
If you want to consciously reduce your dairy intake, you may include milk derived from almond, coconut, oats and soy to your diet.
Published: August 30, 2019 7:57 pm