What is a Plant-Based Diet?
There are two major sources of food in our diet: plants and animals.
A plant based diet includes more volume of food from plants and animal sources. It does not mean that it’s always associated with being vegan or vegetarian. The plant based diet includes grains, beans and lentils, fruits, and a large amount of vegetables and if you choose some animal proteins as well.
Health Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet
Studies show evidence that a plant based diet contributes to improved health and longevity. A plant based diet that is balances is protective in many ways.
– It is high in fiber
– It is high in antioxidants that decrease chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes
– It is high in vitamin and minerals
– It is los in saturated fat that promotes heart and brain health
Plant-Based Diet and Weight Loss
One of the real benefits of a plant based diet is that it can be fewer calories than a high animal protein diet. Plants have a lower caloric value for more food volume. The Standard American Diet has become very high in the amount of animal protein, think double-double burgers anyone? Too much animal protein increases saturated fat which increases inflammation in the body, promoting more chronic disease and obesity. Eating less animal protein and more vegetables can make the difference in your weight without feeling deprived of food.
Plant-Based vs. Vegetarian vs. Vegan
How far should we go with a plant based diet is an individual choice, becoming vegan or vegetarian is not for everyone but all of us can reap the benefits in plant based diet. The first step in moving in this direction is to look at your plate at meals, a fourth of your plate can contain a small serving of lean animal protein, a quarter of the plate should be whole grain, and half your plate should be vegetables and/or fruits. Serving sizes for men at dinner should be no more than 5-6 oz. lean animal protein, and for women and children no more than 3-4 oz. Better yet be a flexitarian by including 4-5 vegetarian meals a week with no animal protein. Not only is a great health benefit to you but its more environmentally friendly as well.
Eating a plant based diet means consuming the recommended 7-10 serving of fruit and vegetables per day. While that number may seem daunting to many of us, it’s really not that difficult. A large green salad can count as 2-3 servings, one cup of cooked vegetable on your dinner plant counts as 2, and add 3 pieces a fruit to your daily intake and you are there! So the next time you, are tempted to reach for another helping of animal protein, try more salad, vegetables, or fruit instead for a healthier you!