The Benefits of Going Plant-Based

Are you considering going vegan or vegetarian, or simply trying to cut back on meat? Adopting a plant-based diet can have many benefits, including improved health and environmental sustainability! Going plant-based means focusing meals around plant-derived foods like seasonal veggies, fruits, soy products, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains. 

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What are the Health Benefits?

Adopting a plant-based diet has been linked to:

  • Lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol

  • Improved blood pressure

  • Improved weight management and lower risk of obesity

  • Decreased risks of heart disease, hypertension and type 2 diabetes

When cutting any component out of your diet, it’s important to restore balance with other nutrient-rich foods. Veggies, fruits and meat alternatives can add fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients to the diet.

Fiber

Fiber is only found in plant-based foods. Fiber helps with satiety, keeping you full between meals. Increased satiety can lead you to eat fewer calories throughout the day, which could possibly lead to weight loss. Fiber also keeps you regular and can lower cholesterol!

Vitamins & Minerals

Plants provide plenty of vitamins and minerals to support optimal health. Dark leafy greens like spinach, kale and swiss chard are rich in folate, vitamin A, vitamin C and calcium. 

Phytonutrients & Antioxidants

Phytonutrients are responsible for a plant’s bright color, smell and taste. Phytonutrients can have antioxidant properties, meaning they help to prevent cell damage from free radicals, which can reduce the risk of some cancers and other diseases. To get more phytonutrients in your diet, shop for colour! Choose more red, orange and yellow veggies and fruits like peppers, squash and citrus. Garlic and onions can also provide phytonutrients while boosting flavour.

Tips for Transitioning to a Plant-Based Diet

  • Ease into a plant-based diet by serving at least one meatless meal a week

  • Reduce your portions of meat and incorporate more alternative proteins like legumes, tofu, tempeh, Greek yogurt or eggs

  • Re-invent old favourites by swapping chicken with tofu in a stir-fry, or sub bacon with tempeh in a B.L.T. sandwich

  • Be adventurous and try new recipes like curries or bean-based burgers to keep meals fun

  • If you don’t love the taste of greens, blend a cup of spinach or kale into your smoothies

  • Add nuts and seeds like almonds, cashews, walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds and hemp seeds to your meals and snacks for added protein and omega-3 fats

Whether you decide to commit to a fully plant-based diet or simply want to try more meatless meals, there are so many benefits to eating more fruits and veggies and it doesn’t have to be hard. Go at your own pace and, most importantly, make sure your diet is sustainable and enjoyable for you. Stay tuned for upcoming posts on meal planning for a plant-based diet!

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Before making big changes to your diet, it’s important to first talk to your Registered Dietitian. If you’d like professional guidance in going plant-based for weight management, contact us today!

Sources:

  • Grant JD. Time for change: benefits of a plant-based diet. Can Fam Physician. 2017;63(10):744-46.

  • Mann JI. Optimizing the plant-based diet. Asia Pac.J.Clin.Nutr. 2009; 9(S1): S60-4.doi: 10.1046/j.1440-6047.2000.00180.x

Ryan Stallard