“Plant-based” is the nutrition buzzword of the moment. You’ve likely seen plant-based diet information and products everywhere lately. But what is a plant-based diet? And what are the benefits of a plant-based diet?
Keep reading to learn more about this eating pattern, the benefits, and the best ways to increase plants in your diet.
What is a Plant-Based Diet?
Even in the medical literature, there are different approaches and interpretations of a plant-based diet. Some people refer to plant-based as vegetarian and vegan diets or even strict vegan diets that eliminate all animal foods.
For this article, we will take a broader view of plant-based and consider it more of a food philosophy or dietary approach instead of a diet to follow. A plant-based diet could be a specific vegan or vegetarian diet, but it also includes omnivore or flexitarian diets heavily focused on plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Not all plant diets are created equal. It’s possible to consume highly processed foods that don’t contain animal-based ingredients. On the other hand, you can eat plant-based focused primarily on whole, unprocessed foods. Whole foods will bring most of the health benefits. A well-balanced plant-based diet takes careful planning to ensure you are meeting all your nutrient needs, such as vitamin B12 and iron.
Benefits of Eating a Plant-Based Diet
The health benefits of consuming more plant foods have been known for a long time. Despite differing philosophies, most nutrition experts agree that eating more produce is healthy.
Plant foods are part of a diet high in fiber. They contain essential nutrients, including vitamins and minerals, and are rich in phytochemicals, many of which have antioxidant action that counters free radicals.
Increasing plant foods may:
- Decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease and lower cholesterol
- Prevent type 2 diabetes, obesity, and other chronic diseases
- Decrease the need for medications
- Prevent hormonal imbalance
- Help you live longer
Immune System Support and Reduce Inflammation
Nutrients, fiber, and phytochemicals in plants provide immune system support and reduce inflammation because they promote a healthy microbiome. When you eat more plants, you may notice less frequent colds and better immune defense.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Plant foods, especially vegetables, provide a large volume of fiber-rich food that helps you displace more calorie-rich foods while still meeting your nutrient needs. Eating more vegetables and other plant foods is a long-term strategy for maintaining a healthy weight.
Lower Risk of Cancer
Many observational studies correlate plant-based diets with a lower risk of cancer, particularly colon and breast cancers. Undoubtedly, a well-executed whole food plant-based diet reduces inflammation and other root causes of chronic disease.
How to Incorporate More Plants into Your Meals and Snacks
You don’t need to adopt a vegan diet or overhaul everything you are eating to begin to see the health benefits of plants. The first step is to focus on adding more plants to your daily routine. For example, start by adding one serving of vegetables to breakfast or try a new plant-based recipe once a week.
Here are some simple tips:
- Choose primarily whole foods instead of processed foods
- Eat a variety of plant foods each week
- Make sure you are eating enough food and meeting your protein needs
- Include plant-based snacks
Scott’s Protein Balls contain quality, plant-based ingredients packed with plant protein, fiber, and good fats. They are an easy way to eat more plants every day.