Written by Elise Theriault
Plant-based diets are becoming more popular than ever and for good reasons. There are many scientific studies to back up the health benefits of a plant-based diet. The definition of “plant-based” may be different for everyone. Some people are going all-in as vegan, others as vegetarians, and for some it may simply mean consuming meat two or three days a week instead of 7. However it could potentially look for you, here are some compelling facts about the positives to such a diet change and why you should consider it in 2023.
A plant-based diet, which consists of primarily eating vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, and nuts, has been shown to have numerous health benefits. Research suggests that individuals who follow a plant-based diet tend to have a lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. In addition to these benefits, a plant-based diet can also help with weight management, as it is generally lower in calories and saturated fat compared to a diet that includes animal products. Moreover, following a plant-based diet can have environmental benefits, as it requires fewer natural resources to produce plant-based foods compared to animal-based foods.
There is a significant amount of scientific evidence suggesting that a plant-based diet can be beneficial for heart health. One key reason for this is that plant-based diets are typically rich in fiber, which has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels and lower the risk of heart disease. Plant-based diets are also often lower in saturated fat, which is a type of fat that can raise cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease. Plant-based diets are often rich in antioxidants, which are substances that can help protect against cell damage and reduce inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and other chronic conditions. Some studies have also found that plant-based diets can help lower blood pressure, which is another important risk factor for heart disease.
How do plants prevent type 2 diabetes? Fiber also helps improve blood sugar control and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Plant-based diets are also generally low in saturated fat and high in healthy unsaturated fats, which can improve insulin sensitivity and help regulate blood sugar levels. The antioxidants and phytochemicals, which are the anti-inflammatory superheroes, effect and may help prevent the development of type 2 diabetes. Plant-based diets are often lower in calories, which can help with weight management and may also reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. To illustrate this, it is important to note that every 1 gram of carbohydrates is 4 calories, 1 gram of protein is 4 calories, but the same 1 gram of fat is more than double that amount at 9 calories! Meat is high in saturated fats, and so calorie intake can be increased by eating animal products.
It’s also important to understand the energy transfer happening in a plant-based diet verses a diet that includes more meat. Plants are able to convert energy from the sun into chemical energy through a process called photosynthesis. During photosynthesis, plants use energy from sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and water into glucose (a type of sugar) and oxygen. The glucose produced by photosynthesis is used by the plant as a source of energy and as a building block for other molecules such as cellulose (a structural component of plant cell walls) and starch (a carbohydrate that plants store for energy). When we eat plants, we are getting this energy from the sun with only one intermediary.
If this information is steering you towards considering lessening your animal product consumption but you are worried about how to get your proteins, worry no further. There are many ways to get proteins from plants. One way is to eat whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds, which are all high in protein. These plant-based protein sources can be incorporated into a variety of dishes, such as salads, stews, soups, and stir-fries. Another way to get proteins from plants is to use plant-based protein powders, which are made from sources such as pea protein, brown rice protein, and hemp protein. These powders can be mixed into smoothies or added to baked goods and other recipes to boost the protein content. Plant-based proteins can also be found in products such as tofu, tempeh, and edamame, which can be prepared in a variety of ways and used as a protein source in meals. Alternatively, there are now many plant-based meat substitutes on the market, created from these plant proteins sources, that taste very close to the real deal!
In conclusion, a plant-based diet has numerous benefits for both our health and the environment. Not only is this good for your body, it’s good for the environment as well! Plant-based diets require less land, water, and other resources to produce, making them more sustainable and better for the planet. Overall, choosing to include more plant-based foods in our diet can be a simple and effective way to improve our health and reduce our impact on the environment. We can all work towards better health by consuming less meat and getting our energy from the life-giving plants that soak up the sun.