Are you wondering what a plant-based lifestyle is all about? Heard about it through social media, the Internet, from your medical doctor, friends, family, or co-workers? Well, a plant-based lifestyle is not a vegan (no animal products) lifestyle or even a vegetarian (allows eggs and dairy) lifestyle. A plant-based lifestyle is somewhat similar but not the same.
A plant-based lifestyle emphasizes eating these foods: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts/seeds, and oils like extra virgin olive oil. Does this mean cutting out eggs, beef, pork, chicken, fish, turkey, lamb? No, not all. However, animal protein plays a minor role in this lifestyle. The plant-based foods are the stars of the show.
What are Plant-Based Foods?
Nutritious plant-based foods are filled with the good stuff like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and fiber. Here are a few plant-based foods I like to eat:
- Fruits (apples, cherries, kiwi, mango, peaches, pears, blueberries, strawberries, plums, cantaloupe)
- Vegetables (green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, collard greens, tomatoes, squash)
- Whole Grains (quinoa, brown rice, millet, oats, barley, 100% whole wheat bread)
- Legumes (chickpeas, peas, lentils, kidney beans, black beans, navy beans, soybeans)
- Nuts/Seeds (almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts, walnuts, pecans, pine nuts)
- Oils (extra virgin olive oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, grape seed oil)
There are other plant-based foods such as white bread, white rice, and even 100% fruit juice that are not included in the list above because these foods can be high in sugar, calories, and low in nutrients.
Why Should You Follow a Plant-Based Lifestyle?
- To lower your risk of heart disease. Whole fruits and vegetables rich in fiber and other vital nutrients support heart health by not clogging your arteries.
- To lower or prevent Type 2 Diabetes by eating mostly whole plant-based foods. Typically, lower in calories, sugar, sodium, and fat.
- Maintain your weight or lose weight. The fiber in these plant-based foods keeps you full longer, therefore, eating fewer calories.
- To see sunrises and sunsets clearer. Vitamin A in carrots helps with night vision and carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin found in spinach, corn, kale, squash, kiwi, and grapes may help prevent cataract (cloudy area in the lens of the eyes) and macular degeneration (incurable eye disease)
- To maintain that natural skin glow. Many of the vitamins, pigments, and phytochemicals in fruits and veggies contribute to healthy skin. The lycopene in tomatoes, for example, helps protect your skin from sun damage
5 Tips to Follow a Plant-Based Lifestyle
- Eat a meatless meal. Start with breakfast. Skip the eggs, bacon, and sausage and fill up on oatmeal with fresh fruit, raw almonds, a dash of cinnamon, and a tablespoon of honey or maple syrup. Click here for my overnight oats recipe.
- Eat whole fruit and ditch the fruit juices.
- Choose 100% whole grain bread instead of white bread; brown rice instead of white rice; oatmeal instead of a sugary cereal.
- Fill half your plate with a variety of veggies. French fries don’t count.
- Use oils like extra virgin olive oil or sunflower oil for cooking and on salads. But not too much.