Are you curious about a plant-based diet or do you think it is just a fad? Is it something we should all try to become healthier and live longer?
A plant-based diet doesn’t mean you have to go full-vegan.
You can still eat meat. However, meat will only be 5-10% of your diet and your meals should mostly consist of green leafy veggies, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and beans.
For your meat selection, it should be a lean protein such as breast chicken, turkey, or fish. If you really want to omit animal protein, you can still get protein from tofu and beans because you still absolutely need protein.
There are several kinds of plant-based diets according to American Institue for Cancer Research:
- Flexitarian: You still eat eggs and dairy, and seldom meat. But mostly plant-based foods.
- Pescatarian: No meat, mostly plants but you still eat dairy, eggs, fish, and seafood.
- Vegetarian: No meat and fish, mostly vegetables but you eat dairy and eggs
- Vegan: Strictly plant-based food. No meat, eggs, dairy, or any animal byproducts.
Every now and then there’s always a new diet trend that promises to help you lose weight, prevent cancer, and/or lower cholesterol.
There’s Keto, Cohen, no-sugar, no-carb, vegan, vegetarian, and more diets.
But among all those diets, a plant-based diet is the only one that has a solid study behind it to show that it can reduce the risk of cancer.
Going plant-based is a lifestyle decision, but is it worth it? Let’s take a look at its benefits with scientific data from Everyday Health.
1. A plant-based diet may reduce the risk of hypertension or lower your blood pressure.
Last April 2014, thirty-nine studies published in JAMA Internal Medicine demonstrated the fact that people who consume a vegetarian diet had lower blood pressure.
In November 2016, it is also published a study that vegetarians or those who follow a plant-based diet had a 34% lower risk of having hypertension.
It’s not a secret that high blood pressure and hypertension is the leading cause of heart diseases. This brings me to my next point…
2. A plant-based diet is good for your heart
Animal meat has saturated fat that can be the cause of heart diseases.
Plants and vegetables have a lot of fiber which can lower cholesterol and is really good for the heart.
However, meat is not your only enemy when it comes to protecting your heart. When sticking to a plant-based diet, you should also limit the consumption of refined grains and sugar, and switching to healthy oils such as olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil is ideal.
3. It can help you shed some extra pounds.
Meat contains more calories and excess calories make you gain weight.
Plant-based meals are full of fiber and make you feel fuller longer, hence they also have fewer calories.
4. A plant-based diet may reduce inflammation
Plants have natural antioxidants. Fruits and berries also have phytochemicals that decrease inflammation while boosting your immune system.
When you are on a plant-based diet, you are giving yourself a break from processed food, red meat, salt, and preservatives – which are all proven to be inflammatory.
These antioxidants fight the free radicals that cause our bodies stress and inflammation. Inflammation can manifest in our bodies through arthritis, gout, and joint pain.
For example, a person with tendonitis or rheumatoid arthritis is advised to avoid red meat and to consume more vegetables to decrease inflammation.
A plant-based diet eliminates the triggers of inflammation.
It has physiological effects
Plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, and grains are packed with polyphenols which help slow the progression of degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Just because you’re on a plant-based diet, doesn’t mean that it’s healthy. You still need to pay attention to what you put inside your body.
Even with a plant-based diet, you should watch your sugar intake and fat. I’m not saying you shouldn’t enjoy greasy pizza and a milkshake every now and then but still including them as a regular part of your diet defeats the purpose of being on a plant-based diet, which is to have a healthier lifestyle.
- Try baking, steaming, and broiling instead of deep drying your food.
- Avoid or lessen processed foods like cereals and chips.
- Choose whole wheat instead of white pasta, bread, or rice.
The journey will not be so easy but it will surely be worth it because health is our greatest wealth we never knew we had until it’s compromised.