Plant-based is all the rage now. So what exactly is a plant based diet? It’s nutrition powered by plants, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes, but with few or no animal products. Even just initiating a Meatless Monday menu with your family can start a great habit and inspire a love for fruits and vegetables.
Becoming more plant-based has several benefits! When we eat more processed and “heavier” foods like meat, our bodies have to expend more energy to process those foods. They can make us feel more sluggish and there has been some indication that animal protein is linked to certain diseases like cancer and heart disease.
Incorporating more plants into your menu, you’ll feel more energetic, and you may even save some money, especially if you eat local produce and stick to things that are in-season.
Here are some great benefits:
Lower blood sugar.
Eating a diet rich in plants can contribute to lower blood sugar because one of the best ways to control blood sugar is with fiber. Fiber naturally found in fruits and vegetables help you feel full and slow down the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream. Whole fruits are always better than fruit juices for this exact reason. Without the fiber in the fruit, you’re just getting a lot of natural sugar.
Lower blood pressure.
Simply reducing the amount of animal products in your diet lowers your risk of high blood pressure. As you start replacing meat with fish, switch to a vegetarian diet, or go completely vegan, your heart disease risk gradually goes down. A large hypertension study supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute found the DASH diet lowered blood pressure among participants when compared to a typical American diet. While this study focuses on reducing sodium, it also encourages people to reduce meat.
Studies show that vegan and vegetarian diets are highly effective for weight loss. Vegetarian populations have lower rates of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. In addition, reviews suggests that weight loss in vegetarians is not dependent on exercise, and a vegan diet caused more calories to be burned after meals, in contrast to nonvegan diets which may cause fewer calories to be burned because food is being stored as fat.
Lowers risk for cancer.
Studies have found that a vegan diet caused more than 500 genes to change in only three months, turning on genes that prevent disease and turning off genes that cause breast cancer, heart disease, prostate cancer, and other illnesses. Vegetarian diets show improvement also, but the biggest changes suggest complete elimination of animal products.
Thanks to fruits and veggies being very rich in soluble fiber, it’s shown to lower cholesterol. In the body, soluble fiber acts as a sponge, absorbing cholesterol and carrying it out of the body.
Try making a few changes here and there to start to see results. Life is about moderation, but small changes such as Meatless Monday and swapping out some nuts, fruits and vegetables for your typical lunch can go a long way in developing healthy habits and preventing diseases. Shift your families intake towards a plant-based diet and see how it makes you feel!
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Freston, Kathy. “A Vegan Diet (Hugely) Helpful Against Cancer.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 09 Dec. 2012. Web. 05 July 2017.
Tuso, Philip J., Mohamed H. Ismail, Benjamin P. Ha, and Carole Bartolotto. “Nutritional Update for Physicians: Plant-Based Diets.” The Permanente Journal. The Permanente Journal, 2013. Web. 05 July 2017.
Worth, Tammy. “8 Smart Reasons to Go Vegan for Heart Health.” EverydayHealth.com. Everyday Health, 23 Mar. 2016. Web. 05 July 2017.