The benefits to a plant-based diet are both endless and extremely rewarding.
Some of you may be wondering what exactly a plant-based diet is…well, it’s all about increasing your intake of fruits & vegetables, and banishing or limiting your intake of meats and animal-based products.
This may sound absurd to those who are lovers of chicken, beef and protein. However, it is possible to maintain a healthy and high-protein diet without the need for meat and animal products.
Beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, legumes, quinoa and soy are just a few foods which are rich in protein and also excellent for your heart health.
There are several types of plant-based diets, it does not need to be a case of ‘all or nothing’. So try not to be too overwhelmed. To name a few:
- Vegan: No animal products, such as meat, eggs or dairy.
- Lacto-vegetarian: No meat or eggs, but dairy is allowed.
- Lacto-ovo-vegetarian: No meat, but dairy and eggs are allowed.
Some people choose to stick to either one of these for a long duration, or use them as stages and work towards becoming a ‘full vegan’. The choice is completely one of the individuals.
A plant-based diet will improve one’s general and overall health. Although, there are more specifics:
- Heart health
Harvard researchers tracked the health habits of roughly 110,000 people for the period of 14 years. It was found that people with higher intakes of fruits and vegetables have less chance of developing cardiovascular disease.
- Aids in preventing diabetes
Roughly 387 million people are living with diabetes. According to the International Diabetes Federation, that number is expected to soar to nearly 600 million by 2035. Although reaching this number is preventable through a plant-based diet. More particularly for Type 2 Diabetes patients.
Type 2 can be prevented through a healthy diet. Overweight or obese people are more prone to type 2 diabetes due to insulin resistance – high blood glucose, additional fat around the waist, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Hence, a healthy diet could prevent this, more particularly a plant-based diet.
A lot of research has been carried out regarding a plant-based diet and weight loss. The findings suggest that those who follow a plant-based diet tend to consume fewer calories, and thus weigh less than those who do not.
This could be due to the higher quantity of fruit and vegetables in which a plant-based diet withholds or the limited consumption of meat and animal-based products – these are two very influential factors to the results.
- Fibre intake
Following a plant-based diet means consuming high quantities of fruits and vegetables, this means fibre is a key component of the diet. Fibre is an outstanding source for lowering cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Fibre interacts with the ‘bad cholesterol’ in your digestive system and aids in removing it rather quickly from your body. This decreases the overall amount of bad cholesterol absorbed in your body.
Another benefit of fibre is the weight loss aspect of it. It keeps you fuller for longer and hence means your portion sizes do not need to be as large, and snacking is kept to a minimum.
Fibre can be found in foods such as beans, lentils, fruits, vegetables and nuts.
- Hypertension control
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can lower blood pressure. This is due to the high quantity of potassium which is present within a plant-based diet.
The American Heart Association also gathered research regarding potassium. Potassium helps to reduce the negative effects of sodium, which in turn reduces blood pressure levels.
High blood pressure can create stress and anxiety within an individual, potassium can prevent this.
Meat and most animal-based products contain little to no potassium and actually do the opposite of a plant-based diet, and raise blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
- More economical
Fruit, vegetables and wholegrains are far cheaper than meats. Especially if you buy fruit and vegetables whilst they’re in season, the price is often more reasonable due to the high availability.
It’s extremely possible to be healthy and succeed in a plant-based diet, on a budget. Hence, it’s a great type of diet for students to be on. Not only will it save students money but it will also largely benefit their health.
- Decreases cancer threats
Several foods such as meat and animal based products contain cancerous substances. Thus a plant-based diet, which is rich in nutrients from fruits and vegetables is advisable for those who have cancer; or have had cancer, in order to prevent it; slow it down; or never allow it to come back again.
- Extremely beneficial to the environment
This benefit is not directly in line with your heart health, however it will affect your health in the long run so it’s important to consider.
According to One Green Planet, our global food system dominated by industrial animal agriculture is at the heart of our environmental crisis. The animal agriculture industry associates for over half of the world’s suitable land resources. It also capitalizes the majority of freshwater stores and drives greenhouse gas emissions.
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