The popularity of plant-based diets continues to grow all over—and for good reasons. According to the Plant Based Food Association, nearly one-third of Americans say they are actively attempting to decrease their consumption of meat and dairy while increasing their intake of plant-based foods. All because a plant-based diet can help you achieve your wellness goals, whether you want to lose weight, maintain good health, or just want to eat better. Simply put, the trend is being fueled by a desire for a more wellness-focused lifestyle.
What is a plant based diet?
Plant-based diet is exactly what its name suggests. It is a diet strategy that emphasizes plant-based foods. This includes whole grains, legumes, beans, nuts, seeds, and oils in addition to fruits and vegetables. It does not include anything derived from an animal, including meat, fish, dairy products, and eggs. It does not, however, imply that you are a vegetarian or vegan who never consumes meat or dairy. Instead, you are proportionately consuming more food from sources that are plants.
Health Shots spoke to Roopshree, Dietitian/Nutritionist Consultant at Motherhood Hospitals, in Mechanic Nagar, Indore, to find out what plant-based diet can do to your health.
“Plants based diets are healthy and provide you with the nutrition you need. But you must have also heard about the benefits of a balanced diet in which the nutrients of fish, egg and meat are also included. So, can a plant-based diet make up for it and does cutting the meat out of your meals really work? Let’s find out what a plant-based diet does to your body.”
So is a plant-based diet healthy?
Plant-based diet is generally high in fibre and rich in all the essential vitamins and minerals. They are also low in calories, saturated fat and cholesterol. You can usually meet your protein, calcium and other nutrition needs if you eat different kinds of plant based food. Due to this, there are many studies which agree that a plant diet can improve your health and decrease the risk of several diseases.
A recent opinion in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine argues that all doctors should be aware of the benefits of a plant-based diet for six distinct health disorders, including Covid-19, diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and weight loss.
Here are 7 health benefits of following a plant-based diet, according to Roopshree:
1. It lowers your blood pressure
Hypertension can make you vulnerable to serious health conditions like heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes etc. People who are already suffering from this condition are advised to avoid meat. Going for a plant-based diet will reduce the risk for you by keeping your blood pressure in control.
2. Heart health
Meat contains saturated fats that cause harm to your heart health if it is consumed in excess. Boston University School of Medicine found that a plant-based diet will lower the risk of it.
3. Weight management
The risk of obesity drastically decreases with a plant based diet. Adding healthy items to your diet will help you maintain a healthy weight and avoid all the complications that come along with obesity.
4. Reduce risk of Covid-19 and type 2 diabetes
Scientifically referred to as “zoonotic illnesses”, virus such as Covid-19, SARS, bovine spongiform, swine flu, and avian flu all have one thing in common: they are all animal-borne. In a new study, patients whose diets were based on healthful plant-based foods had decreased chances of Covid-19 and type 2 diabetes, according to researchers at the Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).
5. Helps in maintaining cholesterol
High cholesterol can lead to the deposition of fats in the blood which can restrict the blood flow. This condition can lead to drastic consequences like heart attack, stroke, or heart disease.
6. Reduces the risk of stroke
Conditions like high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol etc. can increase the risk of stroke. But following a plant-based diet and a healthy lifestyle can reduce the risk.
7. Lower risk of dementia
Postmenopausal women who consumed significant amounts of plant-based protein had lower risks of sudden death, cardiovascular disease, and dementia-related death compared to women who consumed fewer plant proteins, according to a clinical study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
8. Menopause management
The findings of a study published by the North American Menopause Society in the journal ‘Menopause’, found that a plant based diet can reduce moderate to severe hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause. So, ladies focus on a plant based diet more.
9. Prevent asthma
For the findings, published in the journal Nutrition Reviews, the research team examined the evidence related to diet and asthma and found that certain foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other high-fibre foods, can be beneficial in dealing with asthma, while others–such as dairy products and foods high in saturated fat–can be harmful.