If you are looking to stay slim and trim, a plant based diet works well if you use it to reduce calories while ensuring you also consume enough protein. While “plant-based” does not mean a strict vegetarian, it does mean that the foundation of the diet rests upon foods that are grown in the ground, such as legumes, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, as well as nuts and seeds. Some plant-based diets also include fish and some lean meat as well, though this depend on the individual plan.
It’s well-known in the scientific world that diets containing large amounts of fruits and vegetables can help people prevent a variety of chronic diseases. Extra fiber and potassium help stave off heart disease, and when whole foods displace refined carbohydrates it helps individuals steer clear of diabetes. The potent phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables can help ward off cancer as well.
Plant-based diets also usually contain a variety of colorful foods, which are packed with a variety of nutrients aside from the well-known vitamins and minerals. For example, bell peppers have a variety of carotenoids that serve as antioxidants, and give those peppers their brilliant orange, red and yellow colors.
Plants also contribute powerful agents that serve as potent cell-protectors. For example, broccoli contains indole-3-carbinol – a potent molecule that has the ability to target and kill estrogen receptor alpha positive breast cancer cells.
Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, can be greatly influenced by a plant-based diet. Research from the Harvard School of Public Health suggests that diets rich in fruits and veggies can actually work to significantly lower blood pressure. With high blood pressure comes increased risk of having a stroke or developing heart disease, both of which are the two leading causes of death in the US. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables each day as part of a plant-based diet can have real benefits for lowering blood pressure, and preventing serious health events.
How many fruits and veggies will help keep your heart healthy? As it turns out, you need about 8 or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day to reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke by 30%. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to eat 8 different fruits and vegetables, but adding additional servings of the ones you already eat can help.
Overall vegetarians seem to average fewer daily calories when compared to meat-eaters, which may help them maintain a healthy weight. Plant-based foods usually allow you to feel fuller on fewer calories, with the exception of olive, canola, and other plant-based oils. It’s a good idea to opt for plant-based foods rich in fiber, such as beans, legumes, and fresh vegetables. Choose whole fruit instead of fruit juice can help as well.
1. Better Digestion
Let’s start with the obvious – your digestion is going to ROCK on a vegan diet, no kidding. Plant-based foods are basically fiber, water, healthy fats, and plant-based protein. There’s nothing in those foods (unless you choose highly processed versions) that cause your digestion to slow down or take a stand-still. Just keep in mind that the added intake of fiber should be embraced with caution. Take it slow and chew your food very well, which also enhances the digestion process. For those who consume a lot of milk, cheese, and meat, this is one of the best changes you can make for healing chronic constipation, gas, bloating, stomach inflammation, and heartburn.
2. Happier Outlook
Eating in a way that promotes life naturally makes you happier. You’ll have a lighter outlook on life and just generally feel happier all the way around. This is a change many people don’t expect, yet one I hear the most about from everyone who takes on the challenge.
3. Better Blood Sugar
Dr. Neal Barnard is a huge advocate of a low-fat, vegan diet for healing and managing diabetes. Mainly because a plant-based diet slows down blood sugar, yet still allows insulin to do its job within the cells. Most people find they don’t suffer low blood sugar, hypoglycemia, or any other symptoms of diabetes within a week of a plant-based diet. Learn how to reap the benefits of a plant-based diet for your blood sugar and learn more about managing diabetes at the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine.
4. Pretty Skin
Your skin will look incredible after a week on a plant-based diet. Nutritious plant foods are rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, antioxidants, water, chlorophyll, and vitamin E, which all do amazing things for your skin. Some of the best bets are apples, oranges, berries, greens, broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes, avocados, lemons, beets, squash, and tomatoes.
5. More Energy A plant-based diet is incredibly beneficial for your sleep health. Even though you’ll likely have endless amounts of energy throughout the day, you’ll likely feel more calm and find it easier to nod off to sleep. Plus, certain foods like bananas, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cashew butter, peanut butter, avocados, kale, almonds, walnuts, spinach, and squash all contain vitamin B6, trytophan, and magnesium, which ensure a healthy sleep cycle. Kale, Swiss chard, fortified almond or soy milk, and dried figs are also richer in calcium than dairy milk (which has been said to actually leach calcium from the body).
Animal foods are extremely hard to digest. When the digestive system becomes overwhelmed, it sucks all the energy right out of you. Eating a plant-based diet is a great way to enhance your energy since digestion is naturally easier and certain plant-based foods contain energizing properties. Just be aware of portion size since eating extremely large meals can also be taxing on your system. Check out our recipes section, which is filled with yummy options to choose from.
6. Less Inflammation
Have join pain? Eat more plants! Plant-based foods lower inflammation. Especially those rich in omega-3 fats like chia and flax, along with leafy greens that contain chlorophyll which relieves inflammation. Eating a plant-based diet increases alkalinity in the body to calm inflammation. A diet high in animal foods promotes acidity which can lead to everything from arthritis to gout to chronic stomach inflammation.
7. Better Sleep
A plant-based diet is incredibly beneficial for your sleep health. Even though you’ll likely have endless amounts of energy throughout the day, you’ll likely feel more calm and find it easier to nod off to sleep. Plus, certain foods like bananas, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cashew butter, peanut butter, avocados, kale, almonds, walnuts, spinach, and squash all contain vitamin B6, trytophan, and magnesium, which ensure a healthy sleep cycle. Kale, Swiss chard, fortified almond or soy milk, and dried figs are also richer in calcium than dairy milk (which has been said to actually leach calcium from the body).