August 4, 2021
Plant-based diets are increasingly popular. But what exactly are these diets and why might they be right for you?
What Are Plant Based Diets?
The “plant-based diet” is a bit of an umbrella term, under which many diets (the Mediterranean diet, for example) can fall. A plant-based diet can be similar to a vegetarian or vegan diet, but it’s not exactly the same. Those who follow a strict vegan diet refrain from consuming animal products, while vegetarians can still consume things like eggs, milk, and honey. Plant-based diets primarily focus on plant-based foods. This includes fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans. Eating a plant-based diet doesn’t mean that you never eat meat, but rather that you choose to make plant sources the centerpiece of your meals.
Benefits of a plant-based diet
There are many health benefits to following a plant-based diet. Increasing the amount of plant protein in your diet can strengthen your immune system, reduce inflammation, and increase your fiber intake. Research suggests that plant-based diets may also reduce the risk of certain cancers and chronic diseases.
“Those who follow a plant-based diet may lower their risk of certain health conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes,” says Lynda Rosini, MA, RDN, CNSC, ADCES, Pediatric Oncology, Marrow Transplant bone and pain and dietitian palliative care. “It is also a way to reduce calorie intake and could potentially lead to weight loss.”
What to include in a plant-based diet
Since plant-based diets are such a broad category, they can vary widely from person to person. Most people who follow a plant-based diet can eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, seeds, beans, and lentils. Some who follow plant-based diets choose to limit or avoid eating foods like meat, seafood, dairy products, sweets, and refined grains, like white pasta and white rice. Others may choose to eat meat and sweets every now and then. It all depends on the individual, but a plant-based diet emphasizes using fresh, whole ingredients while reducing your intake of processed foods (e.g. chips, snacks, pies and pastries, cakes , cheeses, breakfast cereals and meat alternatives).
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The material provided by HealthU is intended to be used for general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your doctor for individual care.