Health Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet
Plant-based eating has been growing in popularity over the past few years. People have been swearing by eating a plant-based diet as a means to good health.
As we all know, nutrition is a key aspect of overall health and wellness. With the United States facing a growing obese and chronic disease plagued population, it’s important to start focusing on diet.
By diet, I mean a person’s overall lifestyle and eating pattern, not a temporary means to achieve a goal.
Diet is a vital tool for preventative and complementary care. It can be impactful in improving the health of individuals.
Recent studies have shown that a plant-based diet could be a healthy option that adults can use as the way to prevent some chronic diseases and lose weight.
With the all of the health benefits of eating plant-based, it’s no wonder people are starting to follow this increasingly popular diet.
What is a plant-based diet?
A plant-based diet is one that focuses on foods sourced from plants and not from animals. This means people who follow a plant-based diet will try to avoid eggs, meat, poultry, dairy products, etc. and instead focus on eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
A recommended daily eating pattern for a plant-based diet involves:
◊ Vegetables: as much as you desire
◊ Fruits: 2-4 servings
◊ Whole Grains: 6-11 servings
◊ Legumes: 2-3 servings
◊ Nuts: 1-2 ounces
◊ Seeds (ex. chia, flax, hemp): 1-3 tbsp
◊ Fortified Plant Milk (ex. Cashew milk): 2-3 cups
◊ Fresh herbs and spices: as much as you desire
It’s important to note that the amount of recommended servings is dependent on your calorie needs and thus the ranges are provided. It’s also important to note that a plant-based diet is not the same as being vegan.
What are the health benefits of a plant-based diet?
In her written piece, Plant-Based Diets: A Physician’s Guide, Julieanna Hever talks about the many specific health benefits of a plant-based diet.
Some of the found health benefits include:
◊ Weight management
◊ Reduced risk of heart disease
◊ Management of hypertension & hyperlipidemia
◊ Management of hyperglycemia and even diabetes
This means a plant-based eating pattern can effectively help you lose weight and keep it off, a battle that many struggle with. The key is that following a plant-based diet becomes an enjoyable lifestyle rich in nutritious and delicious food that will keep you eating healthy.
Additionally, a plant-based diet can help with managing heart health and blood pressure due to its high-fiber nature. Lastly, this diet can help regulate blood glucose, and much more.
It’s no secret that eating a diet rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables is healthy and a plant-based diet involves doing just that.
Fruits and vegetables are rich in phytochemicals, which are plant chemicals that provide beneficial impacts on the body. Fruits and Vegetables are also rich in vitamins, and antioxidants that all provide their own positive impacts on the body as well. So naturally consuming a diet higher in these beneficial compounds would have a beneficial effect.
Additionally, consuming a diet rich in whole grains, legumes, and produce will provide the body with a good source of soluble and insoluble fibers. These dietary fibers found in these foods help promote digestive, heart, and immune system function (Hever).
Thus, following a diet, such as a plant-based diet, that is naturally rich in these foods can have a valuable impact on health.
Some things to take into consideration:
All of these benefits occur when consuming a balanced plant-based diet. It’s important to know that a deficiency in vitamin B12 can occur as it’s the only nutrient not able to be sourced directly from plants. Supplementation may be necessary in order to ensure adequate intake, however, some plant milk is fortified with it. Additionally, vitamin B12 can be found in fortified cereals and nutritional yeast.
What to take away:
It’s easy to see why a plant-based diet is growing in popularity. The benefits like weight management and improved heart health associated with this eating pattern make it an appealing diet to follow for those looking to improve their health through diet.
A great way to get your toes wet into plant-based eating is to eat plant-based for one day a week. It’s a great way to get creative in the kitchen and use up some of your produce before it goes bad.
*This post serves merely as an educational reference for those looking to learn more about a plant-based diet and it benefits. It is not by any means a formal recommendation. Please consult a physician or dietetic professional before making any serious diet or lifestyle changes.
Hever, Julieanna. “Plant-Based Diets: A Physician’s Guide.” The Permanente Journal 20.3 (2016): 93–101. PMC. Web. 26 Apr. 2018.