The benefits of a plant based diet (5 key principles explained)


Author: Joep Rooijmans, 01 nov. 2019                  Updated: 29 dec. 2019



Plant based diets are becoming increasingly popular. In 2014 only 1% of Americans was on a plant based diet, currently that’s over 6%. An increase of over 600% in just 5 years.
(source: medicalnewstoday.com)

 

U.S. retail sales of plant-based and vegan foods have increased by 11 percent over the last year.
(source: newsweek.com)

 

And there is a very good reason for that! A plant based diet is linked to a wealth of benefits.

 

In this article, I will explain the benefits of a plant based diet including the 5 key principles:

 

Key principle 1: Definition of a plant based diet

Key principle 2: Health benefits

Key principle 3: Plant based products

Key principle 4: Plant based meal plan

Key principle 5: Nutrient facts

 

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Key principle 1: what is a plant based diet?

A plant based diet is a diet that consist entirely of whole foods derived from plants.

 

There is no set definition of what exactly constitutes as a whole food and a plant based diets. There are differences in the way that people approach it.

 

But the basis for every plant based diet consists of the same elements. A plant based diet only includes whole foods such as:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Tubers
  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Spices and herbs
  • Whole grains

 

A plant based diet excludes:

  • animal products such as meat and seafood as well as eggs and dairy.
  • refined products such as sugar and white grains (white bread, white rice etc.)
  • processed foods such as meat products (bacon, ham, salami), savoury snacks (crisps), convenience foods (ready meals) and breakfast cereals. Basically everything that comes from a factory.

 

 

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Plant based vs vegan

A plant based diet is not the same as a vegetarian or vegan diet.

 

Vegetarians don’t eat meat. They do eat other animal products such as cheese, eggs, milk, yoghurt etc. Some vegetarians don’t eat seafood either. But both vegans and vegetarians eat refined products, something that a person that follows a plant based diet wouldn't eat.

 

Vegans don’t eat any animal products. This includes of course meat and seafood but also eggs, dairy products and honey. This is similar to the plant based diet.

 

But they don’t only apply this principle to their diet.

 

Vegans abstain from the use of all animal products like leather, wool, silk, products that contain bird feathers and cosmetics that contain animal products.

 

 

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Key principle 2: health benefits


A plant based diet is considered to be one of the healthiest diets because it consists solely of whole foods and excludes unhealthy products and processed foods. A plant based diet benefits your health in multiple ways.

 


benefit 1: weight management


Because a plant-based diet consists of whole foods and excludes processed foods, you eat less products that contain a lot of sugar, sodium and (saturated) fat.

 

Because of that, whole foods contain less calories. Research shows that people that are on a plant based diet have a lower BMI (Body Mass Index) than people that eat animal products and processed foods.

 

Research shows that due to the absence of excessive fat in their diet, people who follow a plant based are less likely to be overweight. Vegan, vegetarian and plant based diets are all associated with a lower BMI.

 

benefit 2: Lower risk of heart disease

Plant based diets are low in cholesterol. Cholesterol is a fatty substance that you can find in your blood. It helps to build new blood cells.

 

Red meat, eggs and dairy products such as cheese and butter contain cholesterol.

 

But when your blood contains too much cholesterol it increases the risk of heart disease. The fatty substance sticks to the blood vessels and narrows the arteries. This process is called atherosclerosis.

 

Because the arteries are narrowed, the blood flow to your heart is blocked. Your heart receives not enough oxygen causing chest pain.

 

If the heart is completely blocked from blood flow and oxygen it will result in a heart attack.

 

(Source: webmd.com, "Heart Disease and Lowering Cholesterol").

 

benefit 3: lower risk of Cognitive decline

Research shows that cognitive decline and alzheimer disease is related to the amount of saturated fat a person eats.

 

Saturated fats are found in animal products such as meat and dairy products. Consequently, people that follow a plant based diet that excludes animal products consume no (or less) saturated fat.

 

Therefore, they are less likely to suffer from cognitive decline.

 

Instead, the brain is being protected by foods rich in vitamin E. Vitamin E is found in whole grains, nuts, seeds and leafy-greens. And these are all components of a plant based diet!

 

plant based diet

benefit 4: Lower risk of diabetes

With respect to the management of diabetes, plant based diets help in preventing and managing diabetes.

 

People that eat meat run twice as much risk of developing diabetes compared to people that don't eat meat. 

 

The Adventist Health Studies found that people that don’t eat meat have approximately half the risk of developing diabetes as non-vegetarians.

 

In 2008, Vang et al reported that nonvegetarians were 74% more likely to develop diabetes over a 17-year period than people that don’t eat meat.

 

A low-fat, plant-based diet with no or little meat may help prevent and treat diabetes, possibly by improving insulin sensitivity and decreasing insulin resistance.  

 

(source: NCBI, "Nutritional Update for Physicians: Plant-Based Diets").

 

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KEY PRINCIPLE 3: PLANT BASED PRODUCTS

As stated above, a plant based diet consist of products from the following food groups: vegetables, fruit, tubers, legumes, nuts, seeds, spices & herbs and whole grains.

 

These products contain high amounts of all sorts of vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber as well as your daily recommended amount of simple carbs and unsaturated fat.

 

So what products can you include in your plant based diet?

 

This is an overview of products that can be included in a plant based diet. You can use it as your shopping list the next time you go to the supermarket.

 

Vegetables: kale, broccoli, collards, corn, spinach, tomatoes, avocado, cauliflower, lettuce, squash, green peas, aubergine, cucumber, celery, eggplant, bell pepper, leak etc.

 

Fruit: apple, oranges, banana, berries, mango, grapefruit, plum, peach, passion fruit, melon, pears, lime etc.

 

Tubers: potato, sweet potato, carrots, beets, parsnips, radishes, yams etc.

 

Legumes: peas, chickpeas, lentils, soy beans, kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, lima beans etc.

 

Nuts: walnuts, almonds, cashew, pecan, pistachio, macadamia, hazel nuts etc.

 

Seeds: chia, pumpkin, hemp, sunflower, pomegranate seeds etc.

 

Spices & herbs: basil, cumin, pepper, mustard, chili, coriander, dill, lemon grass, nutmeg, oregano, poppy seed, rosemary etc.

 

Whole grains: brown rice, whole grain bread, whole grain pasta, quinoa, buckwheat, oatmeal, bulgur, whole grain wraps etc.

 

What is your favourite plant based product? Share this in the comment section below, other readers will be very grateful!

 

 

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KEY PRINCIPLE 4: PLANT BASED MEAL PLAN

A variety of products is listed above, so you are all set to start your plant based diet! But I understand that it might be difficult in the first few days or weeks to think of a plant based meal every day for every single meal… which also has to be tasty (really important of course)!

 

Therefore, I want to help you to get started by giving you some inspiration for your meals. They are divided in breakfast, lunch, dinner and tasty snacks. Enjoy!

 

BREAKFAST

  • Soy yoghurt with almonds and berries
  • Oatmeal with coconut milk, bananas and hazelnuts
  • Whole grain toast with peanut butter
  • Protein smoothie with soy milk, spinach, pear, kale, blueberries and vegan protein powder

 

LUNCH

  • Whole grain wrap with avocado and kale
  • Whole grain pasta salad with tomotoes, lentils, green leafs and bell pepper
  • Vegan protein shake
  • Grilled vegetables with quinoa

 

SNACK

  • Fruit
  • Homemade hummus with vegetables such as cucumber, cherry tomatoes, celery or carrots
  • Handful of nuts

 

DINNER

  • Black bean burger with tomatoes, lettuce and cucumber on a whole wheat bun
  • Green curry with vegetables, brown rice and tofu
  • Mexican whole grain wrap with kidney beans, corn, bell pepper, chili and vegan mayo
  • Sweet potatoes, green peas and broccoli with an avocado side salad

 

If you want to make your life completely easy then you are going to love this: we have teamed up with the people from The Plant Based Cookbook, one of the largest publishers of plant based cookbooks and meal plans!

 

They offer you The Plant Based Cookbook with 100+ delicious, affordable and easy to make meals!

  • Simple, easy and delicious recipes
  • Clear meal prep instructions
  • Complete shopping list and food table

No more struggling for ideas to create quick and healthy meals!

 

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And there is more. If you order The Plant Based Cookbook today you will receive special one-time bonus offers:

  • The 30-Day Jumpstart Guide
  • Green Smoothie Lifestyle
  • Vegan Grocery List
  • 5 Plant Based Manuals

Remember, you only receive the bonus gifts if you order The Plant Based Cookbook today! This is everything that you get:

 

Click HERE if you want to get more information about The Plant Based Cookbook and receive your bonus gifts (only today).

 

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KEY PRINCIPLE 5: nutrient facts


One of the biggest misconceptions about plant based and vegan diets is that it lacks important nutrients. People think that when you don’t eat animal products you lack necessary vitamins minerals and protein.

 

This is absolutely untrue. Plant based products contain all the nutrients that your body needs.

 

Let’s be factual about this: a plant based diet consists of different food groups. And each food group contains a range of different products. These products all contain certain nutrients.

 

The overview below shows a complete overview of all nutrients per food group:

  • Fruit and vegetables: vitamin A, B-group vitamins, vitamin C, D, E, K, calcium, iron, zinc, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, manganese, fiber, simple carbs and folate

  • Tubers: vitamin A, C, fiber and potassium

  • Legumes: vitamin A, B-group vitamins, vitamin C, fiber, iron, zinc, calcium and magnesium

  • Nuts: vitamin C, E, fiber, iron, potassium, folate, selenium, protein, thiamine and manganese

  • Seeds: protein, fiber, calcium, zinc, copper, potassium and magnesium

  • Spices & herbs: calcium, magnesium, iron, sodium, phosphorus, potassium and protein

  • Whole grains: B-group vitamins, protein, fiber, iron, zinc, copper, and magnesium

As you can see, with a plant based diet you will meet all of your nutrient needs. Even the nutrients that are associated with animal products such as vitamin B12, zinc, iron and protein.

 

When you work out or want to build extra muscle mass it’s advised to take in more protein. This can be done via protein shakes. There are plant based protein supplements available.

 

One of the biggest online stores for fitness supplements is bodybuilding.com. They have a large range of vegan protein powders for sale. Click HERE to take a look at their offers.

 

 

If you think about switching to a plant based or vegan diet but you feel like you need some extra help then consult a dietitian of other (nutrition) expert. They are able to give you all the information that you need in order to put together a balanced and healthy diet that contains all the nutrients you need!

 

 

CONCLUSION

Plant based diets are becoming more and more popular, and for good reason! Eating only unprocessed, whole foods benefits your health greatly. It reduces the risk of a variety of diseases significantly. This includes diabetes, cognitive decline, obesity and heart disease.

 

A plant based diet only includes non-processed whole foods, such as:

 

Vegetables: kale, broccoli, collards, corn, spinach, tomatoes, avocado, cauliflower, lettuce, squash, green peas, aubergine, cucumber, celery, eggplant, bell pepper, leak etc.

Fruit: apple, oranges, banana, berries, mango, grapefruit, plum, peach, passion fruit, melon, pears, lime etc.

 

Tubers: potato, sweet potato, carrots, beets, parsnips, radishes, yams etc.

 

Legumes: peas, chickpeas, lentils, soy beans, kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, lima beans etc.

 

Nuts: walnuts, almonds, cashew, pecan, pistachio, macadamia, hazel nuts etc.

 

Seeds: chia, pumpkin, hemp, sunflower, pomegranate seeds etc.

 

Spices & herbs: basil, cumin, pepper, mustard, chili, coriander, dill, lemon grass, nutmeg, oregano, poppy seed, rosemary etc.

 

Whole grains: brown rice, whole grain bread, whole grain pasta, quinoa, buckwheat, oatmeal, bulgur, whole grain wraps etc.

 

A plant based diet excludes:

  • Animal products
  • Refined products
  • Processed products 

That switching to a plant based diet means that you are going to lack important nutrients is a complete myth. Plant based products contain all the nutrients that your body needs!

 

Don't forget your special offer, order The Plant Based Cookbook today:

 

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