Plant-based Diet 101: What you should know

 

Every year, millions of Americans die of cancer and heart disease. Most of these deaths are related to diet and lifestyle. It’s now clear that following a plant-based diet and leading a healthy lifestyle can reduce your chances of developing these deadly diseases.

A study at Harvard University showed that people who consume red meat have higher chances of dying younger, and changing just one serving of meat for nuts could reduce that risk by about 19%. But do you really have to avoid all meat products?

What is a plant-based diet? 

A plant-based diet is any diet that focuses mainly on foods obtained from plants. It can include fruit, grains, legumes, nuts, meat substitutes like soy products, and vegetables.

There are various types of plant-based diets, including:

• Vegan: Have no animal products like dairy, eggs or meat products.

• Lacto-vegetarian: Have zero eggs or meat products, but dairy products are included.

• Lacto-ovo-vegetarian: Have no meat, but include dairy and egg products.

Benefits of a plant-based diet 

 

Lowers blood pressure 

Most fruits, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and vegetables have high quantities of potassium and vitamin B6. These nutrients are known to reduce blood pressure that leads often leads to anxiety and stress. Meat products, on the other hand, contain little potassium and tend to increase cholesterol and blood pressure.

Reduces cholesterol 

You must control your fat intake to avoid foods with high amounts of cholesterol that can cause heart disease, and a plant-based diet is the best option. For example, an egg contains more cholesterol than poultry, fish and most red meat. So plant foods can actually reduce the chances of heart disease by lowering the amount of cholesterol.

Improves the absorption of blood sugar 

Health experts recommend eating more fiber to combat high blood sugar. Fiber is known to slow down the rate of sugar absorption in the blood, reduces your chances of feeling hungry and balances your cortisol levels. Plant-based diets have more fiber than animal-based products and are, therefore, a better option.

Helps in weight loss 

Eating whole foods, especially plant-based diets increase your chances of reducing weight significantly. This is because weight loss occurs naturally when you eat more fiber, minerals, and vitamins than animal fats and proteins.

How to get started?

Switching to a plant-based diet can be challenging. To help you get started, here are a few tips to follow:

• Eat more vegetables
• Change your perception about meat
• Choose good fats
• Prepare a vegetarian meal at least once per week
• Incorporate all grains in your breakfast
• Eat fruits for dessert
• Try various green vegetables
• Create meals around salads

A plant-based diet is definitely more beneficial. But it is advisable to start slowly if you plan to significantly change your diet. This allows the body to adjust to new foods.

Educating yourself about the benefits of a healthy plant-based diet is very important in order to have success with your new lifestyle.

 

Sources

https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/dcpc/research/articles/cancer_2020.htm

https://www.cardiosmart.org/Heart-Basics/CVD-Stats

https://www.consumerreports.org/diet-plans/plant-based-diet/

https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/guide/plant-based-diet-for-heart-health

 

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Irina Kirilyuk

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