For years, registered nutritionists and food scientists have explored the benefits of eating plants and cutting down on meat. And people seem to be catching on to this diet trend.
We sure did!
Numerous studies have shown that eating a diet high in plant-based foods benefits your health, and it is worth making the switch.
It could even add ten extra years to your life!
So, why is a Plant-based diet better?
The term "plant-based" can mean different things to different people.
But generally, a plant-based diet consists primarily of whole, minimally processed foods, such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
Some people also choose not to eat dairy or animal products (e.g., vegetarian or vegan).
Plant-based and veganism has been around for centuries, but it's only recently become popular.
Why? Well, the evidence is there: It's improving our overall health.
You don't have to give up animal products entirely, but by making small, gradual changes, you could already start to reap the benefits.
Whether you're an animal lover, an environmentalist, or want to live a healthy lifestyle, going plant-based will have significant positive effects on your health.
Vegan or plant-based isn't just a diet; it's an overall lifestyle change.
You don't need to count calories or worry about meeting specific macronutrient daily goals. It's simply about eating more plants and fewer animals (or non at all).
And when you eat various plant-based foods, all your nutrient requirements will be naturally met.
Optimal nutrient intake = optimal health!
10 Health Benefits of A Plant-Based Diet
Plant-based diets have become popular because the positive results on both our health and the environment have been well researched and observed. Here are some of the main health benefits of a plant-based diet.
1. PROTECTS YOUR BRAIN
A meta-analysis published in the journal Frontiers of Aging Neuroscience found that increased fruit and vegetable intake was associated with a 20 percent decrease in the risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
Researchers say that this may be because of the antioxidants in plants that remove cellular waste (free radicals) and protect cells against damage.
2. PREVENT OSTEOPOROSIS
Many believe that humans need cow's (or goat's) milk to provide sufficient calcium for good bone health.
News flash! This is not true!
Recent studies show that vegan diets provide just as much calcium (possibly even more) than dairy products.
Not only do Calcium-rich foods like broccoli, kale, collard greens, and almonds offer high levels of calcium, but it is also available in a more easily digested form through these plant-derived sources.
Other nutrients required for the prevention of osteoporosis include Vitamin D (found in grains and soy), Vitamin C (readily available from citrus fruits, tomatoes, and peppers), and potassium (naturally occurring in fruit, beans, and vegetables)
3. LOWERS INFLAMMATION
Inflammation has long been associated with several health conditions, including heart disease, cancers, and chronic inflammatory diseases.
Meat and dairy are common culprits causing inflammation.
Research shows that a healthy diet rich in fruits, veggies, beans, and whole grains helps strengthen the immune system. Combining these foods with low oil intake (especially coconut) can help keep your markers for inflammation in check.
4. FIGHT HEART DISEASES
Plant-based foods are high in fiber, contain no dietary cholesterol, and have low amounts of saturated fat, making them an excellent choice for heart health.
Meanwhile, meats, cheeses, and eggs come with unhealthy fats that, in excess amounts, may cause plaque buildup in a person's arteries.
According to a 2018 review published in the Journal of Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, following a vegan diet may help reverse cardiovascular disease (CVD). It also noted that a vegetarian diet was associated with a 40 percent reduction in CHD risk.
A collaborative analysis using original data was reviewed and reported in 1998 in the Journal of Public Health Nutrition. It compared ischaemic heart disease-specific death rates between vegetarians and nonvegetarians.
Vegetarianism was associated with a 24 percent lower risk of death from ischaemic heart disease.
5. LOWER BAD CHOLESTEROL
Most animal-based foods, including chicken, shrimp, milk, and eggs, contain cholesterol linked to coronary heart disease risk.
Whereas plant-based foods don't have any cholesterol.
A vegan diet free of meat and dairy lowers our blood cholesterol levels and reduces our risk of developing heart diseases.
This study published in the National Library of Medicine found that plant-based diets effectively lowered cholesterol levels.
Five observational studies, cited in a study published in 2009 in the American Journal of Cardiology, looked at the effect of plant-based diets on plasma lipids and found lower blood concentrations of TC and LDL cholesterol in those consuming plant-based diets.
Yeah, for healthier arteries!!
6. LOWER HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee conducted a study to examine the effect of dietary choices on blood pressure in adults.
Vegetarian diets were linked to lower systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure.
Another trial found that a Japanese diet, usually low in sodium and plant-based, significantly reduced systolic blood pressure.
7. MANAGING DIABETES
A plant-based diet may be better than a non-plant-based diet for preventing and managing diabetes.
When making healthy choices, it is low in saturated fat (which causes insulin resistance) and high in fiber, helping the body regulate blood glucose and adequately absorb nutrients.
A plant-based diet also reduces the risk of being overweight, a significant risk factor for type 2 diabetics.
A study of 8,401 people found that vegetarians were 74 percent more likely to avoid developing diabetes than those who ate meat at most once per week.
According to The Adventist Health Studies, vegetarians have an approximate 50 percent lower risk of developing diabetes than non-vegetarians.
A 2009 study involving more than 60 thousand men and women found that vegans had a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than non-vegetarians.
8. IMPROVE GUT HEALTH
A plant-based, vegetarian and vegan diet has been shown to promote a healthier mix of beneficial bacteria in the gut, promoting overall health.
A healthy gut microbiome boosts a high-functioning metabolism, robust immune system, healthy bowel movements, appropriate hormone levels, and adequate appetite regulation.
9. CAN HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT
When you switch from a meat-heavy diet to a plant-based one, your risk of obesity decreases, and generally, plant eaters usually weigh less than meat-eaters, be it by accident.
Losing weight without trying?? That's music to our ears!
When you nourish your body and cells with the correct, healthy, wholesome food, losing weight may be a positive side effect of replacing and reducing certain not-so-good-for-you foods.
Researchers from the UK tracked weight gain in meat-eating, fish-eating, vegetarian, and vegan males and females over five years.
Those eating less meat were less likely to pack on the pounds.
After reviewing data from 87 published research studies, authors Berkow & Barnard reported in Nutrition Review that a vegan or vegetarian diet is highly effective for losing weight.
According to The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, vegetarians were slimmer than their meat-eating counterparts. Vegetarians were also shown to consume more magnesium, vitamin B6, potassium, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B2), folate, and vitamin C than non-vegetarians.
10. INCREASE LIFE EXPECTANCY
Wouldn't we all want to live longer?? And what if we can simply by changing our diet patterns?
It is possible!
When changing from a typical Western diet that includes fats, sugars, processed food, and animal products to an optimized diet including legumes, whole grains, nuts, and fruit and veg, one could significantly extend your life expectancy.
This study published in the journal PLOS Medicine determined how a western diet replaced with an optimal diet (less red and processed meat and more fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and nuts) could increase life expectancy.
They found that making dietary changes at the age of 20 can add 10.7 years for women and 13 years for men. At age 60, 8, and 8.8 years respectively, and at age 80, a 3.4 LE increase.
Although It will reduce with delayed initiation of changes, these are still significant numbers no matter your age and worth making the change.