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Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet

One of the biggest trends in the food world that has taken the internet by storm is the plant-based diet. And it’s exactly what it sounds like, a diet that is primarily plants. That does not mean vegan – it means choosing plant foods more often and allowing meat, poultry, and fish occasionally, putting greater emphasis on the plant foods you consume. I happen to really love the plant-based diet. I follow it myself and regularly talk about it with my clients. There are so many health benefits to the plant-based diet, and I am going to share with you here just a sampling of them.

 

Plants are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants

Carrots are high in beta-carotene, an antioxidant that gives carrot its orange color and is a precursor to Vitamin A. Don’t forget to consume a source of fat to absorb that Vitamin A for eye health and other helpful benefits.

Red cabbage, berries, and red onions are high in anthocyanins, which have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-viral properties.

White and yellow vegetables are high in anthoxanthins, which help lower blood pressure and cholesterol.

The darker the color of the food, the richer it is in beneficial nutrients. So when you are picking your produce at the grocery store and you want higher content of micronutrients, choose the butternut squash over the carrot because they have a deeper orange color which means it is higher in carotenoids (beta-carotene).

Plant foods are high in fiber

I have talked about the benefits of fiber, but let’s have a quick review. Fiber helps you feel fuller for longer, feeds the good bacteria in your gut, aids in digestion, and more. Plant foods are the primary source of fiber! You can further refresh your memory on fiber in my blog post here

Plant foods can be a good source of protein

A concern many people share is how will they consume enough protein following a plant-based diet? Truth is, there are a number of plant-based protein options! Soy products (tofu, tempeh, edamame, etc.), chickpeas, legumes, nuts, and seeds all contain protein. Even quinoa is a complete protein, meaning it contains all essential amino acids our body needs that it can’t make on its own. 

Plant sources of fat are healthier than animal fat sources

Not many plant foods contain fats, but the ones that do contain the healthier fats compared to animal fat. Animal fats are saturated fat, which if eaten in excess can lead to increased LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) and total cholesterol which in turn can increase the risk of heart disease. Many plant fats are unsaturated, which are known to decrease the risk of heart disease by having minimal impact, if not lowering, LDL cholesterol. Olive oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, grapeseed oil, and others are great options! The only plant-based oil that I advise caution and limit consumption of is coconut oil because that is a saturated fat.

 

The Bottom Line

Plants offer us so many nutritional benefits, and the plant-based diet allows you to consume far greater amounts of these nutrients. In fact, you can read about how to incorporate these foods in my e-book Plant Based Recipes for the Soul! Check out the link here to download your free copy!

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