What do you think of when you hear the term “plant-based diet”? Many of us may think of no meat consumption or only salads. In reality, a plant-based diet doesn’t mean that you have to restrict all your meat consumption, just reduce it. A plant-based diet does not equal being a vegetarian or vegan. A plant-based diet is described as a diet high in leafy green vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, and fish and lower in highly processed meats, saturated and trans fats, refined carbohydrates and added sugars. Even more, 39 percent of Americans are already attempting to used a plant-based diet knowing that this way of eating could reduce your overall risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease.
According to the American Heart Association, consuming a plant-based diet regularly can reduce your risk for heart failure by up to 42 percent. This statistic was based on a study involving five different diets: convenience foods like red meats and fast food, a plant-based diet, sweets like desserts and candy, southern foods like fried foods and sugary beverages, and the last diet was alcohol/salads like salad dressings liquor, wine, tomatoes, and leafy greens. The plant-based diet was the only diet that was proven to lower any sort of chronic disease risk. Diet can also have a large effect on the development of atherosclerosis, or the narrowing of arteries due to plaque formation. A plant-based diet would be the top recommended way to reduce the risk of developing atherosclerosis.
Some commonly referred to diets for your health, that are plant-based are the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet. You may be wondering just how to get enough protein if you are reducing your intake of meats. These plant-based diets, add lean meat and fish protein sources and include plant protein sources like nuts, beans, legumes, peas, seeds, tofu, tempeh, and whole grains. Not only do these foods provide natural protein but the plant-based proteins also add extra fiber to help with satiety.
Tips to Beginning a Plant-Based Diet:
-Start with 1 day a week being meatless, such as meatless Mondays
-Start your meal with a vegetable-rich soup or salad
-Try to cook vegetables with a different method to add variety, such as broiling or roasting in healthy plant-based fats like olive oil
-choose meats as a side dish to keep the portion at about 3 ounces or less
Now when you think “plant-based diet” you’ll think heart healthy and flavorful!
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