Even if you don’t ditch meat completely, adding more veggies improves overall health
Some people recoil when they hear, “plant-based diet”, imagining a culinary future comprised entirely of broccoli stalks and wheat grass. Fortunately, this bleak and bland future doesn’t have to be—there are many ways to dress up today’s vegetarian, vegan and pescatarian diets.
If the yummy new flavor twists aren’t enough to make you adopt a vegetarian lifestyle, there are numerous health benefits to replacing most of the meat in our U.S. diets with nutrient-rich vegetables – including reducing the incidence of obesity and obesity-related conditions.
This article offers an overview of the health benefits to switching to a plant-based diet, followed by tips to help make vegetables more palatable.
Plant-based Diet = Heart Healthy
The heart benefit of eating plants is well-documented. Health experts, such as Web-MD, recommend eating more vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes to improve heart health. Eliminating meats, particularly red meat such as beef, lamb and pork, reduces the amount of saturated fat that’s consumed, which according to the American Heart Association, will clog arteries and raise cholesterol and can lead to heart disease.
Increased ingestion of phytonutrients may also lower obesity and type-2 diabetes’ rates, particularly if lower-calorie fruits and veggies replace higher-calorie meats.
Fibrous Veggies Can Reduce Inflammation and Cancer Risks
Cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower, cabbage, kale and broccoli contain fiber that naturally aids digestion, may reduce inflammation in the body that can lead to disease and possibly cancer.
A study that followed 1,000 Chinese women found that those who ingested the most cruciferous vegetables had the least amount of inflammation in the body. The chief researcher notes that there was a lower mortality rate in those who ate cruciferous vegetables, and theorized that it may be because these plants help reduce inflammation.
Improve Kidney Function
Plant-based diets also help the functioning of other organs. According to a 2015 study in the American Journal of Kidney Disease, plant-based diets, particularly plant protein sources, can help lower the mortality rate in individuals who have chronic kidney disease due to lower rates of uremic toxins and serum phosphorous levels.
What about Protein?
The human body definitely needs protein to repair tissues and muscles, but there is plenty of protein in plants and whole grains for most people to remain healthy. One cup of green peas contains 8 grams of protein, at only 118 calories and only .6 grams of fat, peas are an excellent source of plant protein.
Here are the top 10 sources of plant protein:
- Brussel Sprouts
Vegetarianism Doesn’t Reduce Athletic Performance
If you are concerned that switching completely to a plant-based diet will impact your energy, ability to work out or perform athletically, a study by Plant Based Research indicates that ingesting a mostly vegetarian diet didn’t appear to affect an athlete’s performance.
“No distinguished differences between vegetarian-based diets and omnivorous mixed diets were identified when physical performance was compared. Consuming a predominately vegetarian-based diet did not improve nor hinder performance in athletes.”
Dress Up Veggies with Flavor
Making vegetables more palatable is a matter of adding flavor – herbs such as garlic, oregano, peppers and lemon, can do wonders to add interest to bland veggies. Also, combine the distinct taste of tomatoes and tomato sauce to veggies like zucchini, eggplant and spaghetti squash can make any dish more delicious.
The American Heart Association offers simple, nutritious and tasty dishes to help individuals who are trying to improve heart health stay on track. Additional great resources for plant-based menus and recepies include Forks Over Knives book, cookbook and their new magazine by the same name.
Start Clinic Promotes a Plant-Based Diet
Because there is overwhelming evidence that a plant based diet improves many health conditions, Start Clinic helps patients adopt this healthier eating plan.
The medical professionals and staff at Start do all we can to ensure you have the resources to lose weight, improve health conditions and establish a plan that helps maintain long-term health.
Discover how Start Clinic can help you reach your weight loss and health goals, Call 602.795.3649 today for an appointment.