The idea of what makes a healthy diet has changed over the years. Fifty years ago, a meat and potatoes dinner may have been the standard. These days, most dieticians and medical professionals advise a diet that is mostly plant-based. But what does that mean and why is that a good idea?
A plant-based diet is, at its core, a diet that primarily consists of plant foods. These will include vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, fruits, nuts, seeds, and plant-based oils. Individuals can choose to add lean animal proteins or other animal products if desired. How does this differ from years ago? In this diet, animal products are added as additions to a plate rather than the main component.
A plant-based diet is naturally low in cholesterol and saturated fats, making it heart healthy. A plant-based diet is high in a large variety of vitamins and fiber. You can eat plenty of plant foods without the excess calories that animal products have. Eating a plant-based diet can help you cut down on sugary sweets, since it can help recalibrate your taste buds to enjoy less sweet foods. All of these benefits may help you lose weight and may increase your lifespan. In fact, according to National Geographic, areas in the world with the greatest longevity (Japan, Greece, and Costa Rica) eat a plant-based diet!
If you are switching to a plant-based diet from a traditional American fast-food diet, take it slow. Adding many plant foods suddenly can lead to abdominal discomfort and bloating. Build your plate around a variety of plant foods and be willing to try a new one or two a week. In a short amount of time, you are likely to find that you feel better and have more energy. Give plant-based diets a try for a healthier you!