Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet
What exactly is a plant-based diet?
Contrary to how it sounds, a plant-based diet is not a diet of vegetables alone. It’s a diet based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, which may or may not exclude or minimize meat, including chicken, dairy product, and eggs. However, this diet will definitely exclude foods made from refined flour and sugar and refined vegetable oils.
Personally, I eat about 75% plant-based foods and 25% meat and raw dairy.
There are several food categories from which to choose from, and most of these can be included as ingredients in familiar dishes you may want to prepare, such as a pizza, mashed potatoes, and burrito bases.
Here are some of the foods you can add to a plant-based diet:
- Fruit: mangoes, bananas, grapes, strawberries, blueberries, oranges, cherries, plums, lemons etc.
- Vegetables: lettuce, dark green veggie varieties, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, cabbage etc.
- Starchy vegetables: potatoes, yams, yucca, squash, peas, sweet potatoes, peas, green beans.
- Whole grains: millet, barley, brown rice, oats, whole grain cereals.
- Legumes: All varieties of beans such as black beans, lima beans, kidney beans, and cannellini beans, as well as legumes like chickpeas and lentils.
The basis of a plant-based diet
Starch-based foods and fruit form the basis of a whole-food plant-based diet. While leafy greens play an important part in the diet, they are low in calories and do not provide much of an energy source, so they may result in decreased energy levels, and leave you feeling hungry.
However, when combined with more starch-based foods, this diet provides fantastic all-around nourishment, and keeps your energy pumping.
The idea of a plant-based diet is not to eat one food for a single nutrient, such as oranges for vitamin C, as an example. The overall goal of a plant-based diet is to eat what is known as a package of the foods that you enjoy, which contain all the essential nutrients. This package can provide you with most of your daily nutrient needs, and be of enormous benefit to your general health.
In other words, we need to eat an abundant VARIETY of whole plant-based foods peeps!
Health benefits of a plant-based diet include . . .
- Lowered blood pressure due to the potassium-rich legumes and nuts
- Plants contain no cholesterol, and this includes the super-food coconut oil (read that again!)
- The fiber in plants helps to fight high blood sugar, by slowing down the absorption of sugars into the bloodstream
- A plant-based diet seriously lowers your cancer risk (!!!)
- Weight loss happens naturally when you eat wholesome, unrefined foods, lots of fiber, and take in natural vitamins and minerals, rather than animal fats and sugary, floury foods (See my results below)
- Research has shown that replacing saturated animal fats with the mono-unsaturated fats found in nuts, avocados, and olive oil, substantially lowers your risk of cardiovascular and heart disease
- You will also experience less inflammation in the body which is caused by sugary and trans-fatty foods that can lead to other problems like constipation
- The fiber in a plant based diet will keep your colon healthy
- Plant-based foods contain nutrients which are in proportion according to our human needs, and a variety of whole foods will easily meet your nutritional needs
The best way to start a plant based diet
Changing to an almost vegan-type diet will not be easy, especially if you’ve not been a healthy eater! Whether you want to fully embrace a plant-based diet, or perhaps keep chicken or fish as part of your diet is a decision that only YOU can make.
BUT there is no doubt that reducing your meat intake, and following a high-plant diet is one of the best things you can do for your health. Don’t let the fear of increased effort and change hold you back!
If you’re finding it difficult to immediately flip over to a new diet, here are some tips to help you on the way . . .
Click to download a free ebook with 60 whole food plant based recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and desserts!
Tips to start a plant based diet
- Begin by substituting one or two refined items with a plant-based food within a meal each day (for example, replacing almond milk for sugary dairy creamer in your coffee or zucchini “noodles” for white pasta)
- Include legumes in your regular diet as they’re generally feel-good foods, and will make you feel full, and give you energy
- Gradually exclude or reduce red meat from your diet
- If you decide to keep chicken and fish in your diet, make sure that the chicken is skinless and organic, and opt for healthy fatty fish
such as salmon, sardines, tuna or mackerel, for the omega 3 content
- A good idea is to replace one or two days of your week’s meals with a full vegetarian, plant-based meal. Do this on a regular basis, until you no longer want to return to your previous way of eating!
Suggested plant based meals to prepare
- Sweet potato or zucchini lasagna
- Zoodles (zucchini noodles) with tomato or avocado sauce
- Baked french fries or cooked in coconut oil
- Lima bean, sweet potato or tomato soup
- Tuscan white bean burgers
- Loaded sweet potatoes with black beans, corn and salsa
- Bean and brown rice burritos on sprouted grain tortillas
- Quinoa with vegetables
- Loaded salads with olive oil or balsamic
- Green smoothies
These meals are popular choices, and most of the recipes can be found on the internet.
>>Need a library of easy whole food plant based meals at your fingertips? Try Food Matters TV! <<
Backed by science
Fatalities from heart problems, the biggest single cause of death today, is due mainly to poor lifestyle habits, and grossly unhealthy diets. Don’t be another victim!
Embrace a healthy diet and help lower your risk of future heart attack, and cardiovascular disease, aid your weight loss efforts, and create vibrant energy, healthy bowels, and glowing skin!
You simply can’t go wrong increasing your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables and cutting back on refined sugars and flours!
What about you? Have you started eating plant based? How is your journey going? I want to know in the comments!
Hi! I’m Liane, mindset coach and holistic nutritionist in training. I have a passion for all things natural, healthy and holistic. My aim is to inspire you on your healthy living journey by sharing simple, everyday holistic habits that can transform your well-being and life.