Plants are literally life-savers. They support life on our planet and are one of our most important resources. From providing food and oxygen to life-saving medicines, they’ve got our backs in all aspects. Plant-based diets are also the predominant food sources in many cultures. Such diets hold great value in the protection of the environment. But what do they do for our health? Let’s find out.
What does it include?
As the name suggests, plant-based or plant-forward eating patterns focus on foods primarily from plants. This includes not only fruits and vegetables, but also nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans. Plant-based diets can be practised in various forms. A vegan diet is entirely plant-based. It excludes everything that comes from an animal. A vegetarian diet can include dairy and sometimes eggs. A flexitarian diet is one that is mainly plant-based but can sometimes include meat and fish. This means you proportionately choose the foods that are right for you.
What’s in it for you?
Plant-based diets are an extremely healthy choice! They limit the use of oils, added sugars and processed foods. This eliminates the foods that can lead to poor health outcomes. These diets are also rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. According to nutrition research, this type of diet can reduce the risk of hypertension, heart disease, obesity, and digestive diseases. Studies also show that a plant-based diet can help to lower body weight and reduce your LDL cholesterol.
Could it be bad for you?
The health benefits of a plant-based diet depend mainly on your food choices. You can’t expect to get fit if your vegetarian diet is basically a french-fry diet! Hence, choosing the right vegetables and grains is important.
Another important factor is meeting your daily nutrition requirements, including proteins, vitamins and minerals. If your diet fails to meet these requirements, you can develop a nutritional deficiency.
Can’t get enough? Here’s the solution:
Very often, people are apprehensive about plant-based diets, thinking they do not provide enough protein. Proteins are important for our body to maintain muscle mass and healthy skin. Including the following foods is advised: beans, lentils, soy products like soybeans and soy milk, nuts and seeds.
Making the switch
If you’re a hardcore non-vegetarian, it can be really hard to let go of meat. Even if you aren’t, avoiding dairy can be a challenge, especially if you love cheese! However, you don’t have to completely let go of the things you love. All you need is a bit of control. If you’re someone who has despised vegetables till now, try some exciting recipes full of flavour and spices. Eventually, you will get used to it. Who knows, you might start enjoying it even!
Going plant-forward is easier than ever these days. If you plan on doing so, good luck and Bon Appetite!
1. How does Plant-Forward (Plant-Based) Eating Benefit your Health? Available at https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/how-does-plant-forward-eating-benefit-your-health Accessed on 26 May 2021
2. What You Should Know About Plant-Based Diets Available at https://health.clevelandclinic.org/is-a-plant-based-diet-right-for-you/ Accessed on 26 May 2021
3. What is a plant-based diet and why should you try it? Available at https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/what-is-a-plant-based-diet-and-why-should-you-try-it-2018092614760 Accessed on 26 May 2021