Plant-Based Diet: An In-Depth Guide for Beginners
The health benefits of eating a plant-based diet are well documented.
Plants are loaded with essential vitamins and nutrients and are high in fiber and antioxidants. Including plants in your diet enhances immunity, lowers cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease, and may protect against certain types of cancer.
A plant-based diet is also a safe and effective way to lose or maintain weight.
With all these benefits, many have considered trying a plant-based diet. This article reviews what you need to know about plant-based diets, which foods to eat and what to avoid, the health benefits, and how GOLO can help with your plant-based diet.
What is a Plant-Based Diet?
A plant-based diet seems self-explanatory, but there are variations.
Plant-based: A diet of mostly plants. Occasionally includes dairy, eggs, and meat. Also includes processed foods like oils, flours, white rice, and imitation meats.
Whole-food, plant-based: Similar to a plant-based diet but excludes processed foods.
Vegetarian: Excludes consuming any animal meat. Can include processed food, dairy, eggs, and imitation meats.
Vegan: Excludes any food that comes from an animal, including dairy, eggs, and honey. Can include processed food and imitation meats.
However restrictive you choose to be, the basics of a plant-based diet are eating mainly plants, minimizing animal products, and eating mostly whole, minimally processed foods.
Plant-based Food Groups
A plant-based diet is centered around these six food groups:
Vegetables: Leafy greens, peppers, corn, broccoli, brussels sprouts, peas
Tubers: Potatoes, carrots, onions, beets, garlic, radishes, turnips
Fruits: Apples, oranges, bananas, berries, mango
Plant-based protein: Tofu, tempeh, edamame
Whole Grains: Oats, quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat
Legumes: Beans and lentils
Seeds and nuts: Almonds, cashews, macadamia nuts, pumpkin seeds. Includes nut butters.
Healthy fats: Avocado, dairy substitutes, olives, unsweetened coconut
When creating meals for your plant-based diet, you can also include any number of herbs and spices for flavor.
The Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet
By eating a plant-based diet, you can experience benefits to your health, your wallet, and our planet. A plant-based diet can:
Help You Lose Weight and Maintain a Healthy Body Weight
Research shows that plant-based diets are effective for weight loss, and people who adhere to a plant-based diet have a lower body mass index (BMI) than people not on a plant-based diet.
Because plant-based foods are high in fiber and have a low calorie density, your body will feel full for longer without consuming extra calories.
Adopting a plant-based diet can help you lose weight and keep it off long term.
Plant-based diets incorporate foods high in fiber, antioxidants, and other phytonutrients. These nutrients have anti-inflammatory properties. Whereas meat, cheese, and other highly processed foods may elevate inflammation levels in your body.
There are certain nutrients in plants that you can’t get from other foods. These nutrients work to keep your cells healthy so your immune system can function properly. Plants-based diets strengthen your immune system and give your body what it needs to help fight off infection.
Improve gut bacteria
The fiber and phytonutrients in plant foods feed the healthy bacteria in your gut. The healthy bacteria in your gut are responsible for digesting food, boosting your immune system, keeping your gut tissue healthy, and more.
Potentially Prevent diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers
A plant-based diet is associated with a lower risk of death from heart disease, lower cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes. Whereas diets high in animal protein are linked with heart problems, diabetes, and certain forms of cancer.
Research has also linked plant-based diets to lower rates of arthritis, improved liver function, and healthier kidneys.
Help prevent cognitive decline
Plant-based diets also have a positive impact on mental health. Plant-based foods are beneficial to the brain and may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
Has a positive impact on the planet
What you put on your plate also has an impact on our planet. People who follow a plant-based diet tend to have a smaller environmental footprint.
One reason is that raising animals for food requires a lot of resources.
Plant-based diets are also associated with fewer climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions, including methane and carbon dioxide.
Can Save You Money
Not only can plant-based eating save your health, but it can also save you money. According to a study by Oxford University, substituting plant-based for animal-based foods could reduce food bills in upper-middle-income to high-income countries.
The study also found that vegan diets were the most economical and could reduce grocery bills by as much as 34 percent, followed by vegetarian diets, which could potentially slash food costs by 31 percent.
How GOLO Can Help with Planet-Based Eating
Plant-based eating with GOLO emphasizes using real food to create balanced meals. Plant-based meals doesn’t mean you’re cutting out any particular food group, especially protein. There are lots of great plant-based proteins to try, including beans, quinoa, nuts, tofu, and lots more.
From hearty burgers to flavorful chili and delicious salads, creating balanced meals using plant-based proteins, fruits and vegetables, healthy carbs, and healthy fats is easier than you think, and can have an amazing impact on your body.
Not sure where to start? GOLO’s recipe page has a wide variety of plant-based recipes to explore. And if you’re looking to supplement your plant-based diet, try Release. Our supplement is comprised of 7 natural plant-based ingredients and has been proven to help with weight loss.
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