What Is a Plant-Based Diet? Benefits, Nutrition & Food List
Imagine going past a trendy new fast-casual restaurant with a sign in the window labeled "Plant-Based Paradise". Or you browse through a magazine and discover that one of your favorite celebrities or fitness gurus is happening. Follow a vegetable eating approach. You have probably come across the vegetable diet in recent years, and for good reason – it has a wealth of benefits. But what does this catchword mean anyway? Is it the same as a vegetarian or vegan diet? And if not, what can not and can not eat?
A OnePoll study from 2018, which looked at the dietary habits of 2,000 adults, found that nearly three out of five (59 percent) Americans at least once a day eat vegetable meals. In addition, more than half (52 percent) of respondents said they are currently trying to integrate more herbal meals into their daily lives. Meanwhile, 37 percent said they had reduced their meat consumption and another 33 percent reduced their milk intake.
Even NFL quarterback Tom Brady of the New England Patriots feeds on plant-based sources to stay in top shape on the pitch. A CBS News interview with the professional athlete showed that a whopping 80 percent of his diet is made from fruits and vegetables – and a solid portion of the other 20 percent from lean meats like poultry.
If a herbal diet is good enough for a top athlete, it's worth a try, right? There is a lot to consider before you try or start a herbal diet. Here you will find everything you need to know about a herbal lifestyle – and how you can benefit from it.
What is a herbal diet?
Sherene Chou, RDN for NutriBullet, reports that only 1 in 10 adults manage to meet the daily recommendations for eating fruits and vegetables. Fortunately, a herbal diet is a simple and effective way to avoid this problem – and there are several ways to get closer to it.
According to Andrew Weil, MD and Founder of True Food Kitchen, the basic principle of herbal nutrition is to include as many whole, minimally processed foods as possible in your diet while limiting animal products.
What can you eat on a plant-based basis?
As the name implies, a plant-based diet means that you fill your plate mainly with vegetable foods such as vegetables, whole grains and nuts. It also means minimizing the amount of meat and dairy products you eat.
According to Hillary Cecere, RD / N of Eat Clean Bro, and Monica Auslander Moreno, RD, LD / N and Nutritionist for RSP Nutrition, staples of a herbal diet include:
- Vegetables (all kinds)
- Fruits (all kinds)
- Tubers (potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc.)
- Whole grains (oats, brown rice, millet, bulgur wheat, quinoa, corn, farro, etc.)
- Vegetable oils and fats (olive oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, avocado, etc.)
- Nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, cashews, etc.)
- Seeds (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, etc.)
- Legumes (chickpeas, lentils, peanuts, etc.)
- Beans (kidney beans, edamame, black beans, etc.)
- Spices (ginger, cumin, turmeric, paprika, etc.)
- Herbs (parsley, basil, oregano, etc.)
Randy Evans, RD, LD and Fresh n & Lean adviser, notes that a herbal diet means paying special attention to the quality of the food you eat. This means, if possible, to search for organic products from the region, to search for cold-pressed oils without chemical processing and to choose nuts and nut butter without additives or preservatives.
"Your food should be processed as minimally as possible", says dr. Because. "Vegetables, for example, are best raw, slightly steamed, roasted or sautéed quickly. Grains should be kept intact or crushed into large pieces as much as possible and not ground into flour. This gives enzymes an easy access to starch in the grain to convert it into glucose and so raise blood sugar levels. "
Dr. Because also notes that some tropical fruits (such as bananas and pineapple) should be eaten in moderation as they can dramatically increase your blood sugar. "Stick to fruits with low glycemic load, with emphasis on berries," he says. "People with blood sugar problems should also eat these sparingly."
Some people who are on a vegetable diet are meat-free, but this is not essential. However, their meals should focus primarily on plants – meat and dairy products merely serve as an occasional compliment. When you consume animal products, you are choosing smaller quantities. Samantha Presicci, LD, CPT, and the leading RD at Snap Kitchen recommend using up to 3 to 6 ounces of animal protein (depending on your height and activity level) with each meal. In addition, Evans strongly recommends the selection of grass / free-range and organic meat, poultry and eggs that contain no antibiotics and growth hormones.
"It's not about eating or eliminating any kind of food or macronutrient," explains Rachel Fine, RD and owner of To The Pointe Nutrition in NYC. Carbohydrates derived from foods such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, beans, nuts, seeds, and grains are rich in naturally occurring (intact) fibers and provide significantly more nutrients per bite. This is important because there are misconceptions when we look at highly processed foods that are "high in fiber" (think of fiber-rich cereals and protein bars) that contain processed fibers that lack extra nutrients and bioactive substances in natural foods. "
In other words, the best way to capitalize on the nutritional benefits of a food is to eat it in its entire unprocessed form. While a bottled juice can contain many fruits and vegetables, it is better to eat these plants all the way to get the best for your nutritional buck.
CONNECTED: Over 150 recipe ideas that you can enjoy for life.
What can you not eat on a plant-based basis?
Let's be very clear: There is nothing that stands in the way of a herbal diet. This is one of the reasons why this type of food has become so popular – it's a bit less restrictive than veganism, the Paleo diet or Whole30.
Dr. Weil believes, however, that after switching to a herbal diet, you should minimize the consumption of animal products (including meat, poultry and dairy products) and avoid processed foods as much as possible.
"This would override certain foods, such as refined sugars and foods that contain cheap, highly flammable fats, such as the refined soybean oil that is commonly used in pre-packaged ready meals and restaurant fryers," he says.
Therefore, it is always a good idea to look at the nutrition labeling of everything you buy that is not a whole food. The shorter the list of ingredients, the better.
Here are some foods that you should refrain from a vegetable diet:
- All with added sugar (usually included in sodas, juices, flavored yogurts, ice cream etc.)
- Artificial sweeteners (Splenda, Equal, Sweet'N Low, etc.)
- Refined cereals (white bread, rice and pasta)
- Packaged ready meals (fries, biscuits, frozen meals, etc.)
- Processed vegetarian foods (deep-frozen soy-based vegetable burgers, artisan, etc.)
- Processed meat (salami, sausage, bacon, beef jerky, etc.)
- cheese spread
Is a herbal diet different from a vegetarian or a vegan?
As the term "herbal" is gaining momentum, many people are still scratching their heads over whether it is simply synonymous with vegetarianism or veganism.
Charles Stahler, co-founder and co-director of the Vegetarian Resource Group, has studied dozens of scientific studies on plant nutrition and found that the definitions can be very different. Many researchers, restaurants and food companies use the term "vegetable" synonymously with "vegetarian" or "vegan".
Let us clarify this: While vegetarian and vegan diets are obviously herbal, not all plant-based diets exclude meat, dairy and other animal products.
The vegetarian and vegan diet is very clear: meat, poultry and seafood are off the table in the former, while all animal products (including dairy, eggs, honey, etc.) are not allowed in the latter. However, a herbal diet leaves more room for maneuver. It is about increasing the consumption of plants and minimally processed foods and reducing the consumption of animal products – but there are so many different ways of interpreting them. It could mean eliminating meat and only occasionally eating dairy products. Or it could mean that you do not cut out any animal products completely, but only use them once or twice a week. For example, Dr. Because of a plant-based diet that contains seafood (also known as Pescetarianism). He not only fills his plate with plants every day, but also eats fish three to five times a week.
"Just because someone's vegan does not mean he's eating mostly vegetable," says Presicci. "There are some vegans and vegetarians who consume heavily processed products every day. Those who are based on plants simply focus on eating real foods that are mostly derived from plants but may still eat animal products. "
What are the advantages?
The benefits of a herbal diet are numerous – studies have not only shown that this diet can be effective for weight loss, but also reduces the risk of certain cancers, cognitive decline and / or dementia and heart disease.
But that's not all.
"Plants, especially fruits and vegetables, are among the most nutritious foods we know," says Emmie Satrazemis, RD and director of Nutrition Trifecta. "Eating nutrient-rich whole foods can improve your overall food intake, which plays a role in controlling your appetite, mood, energy level and possibly your body weight through calorie control."
Daniela Novotny, RD and Wellness Consultant at Missouri State University, notes that one of the main reasons why it's so beneficial to include more plants in your diet is that it absorbs fiber, both water and fat soluble vitamins , is increased. and minerals.
"Fiber can help lower blood cholesterol, increase satiety / satiety, lower diabetes risk, and improve digestive health," she says. "Likewise, herbal foods contain many forms of antioxidants and phytochemicals that can protect the body from oxidative damage and inflammation. Another point to consider is that the decrease in animal products often results in lower dietary intake of saturated fat and cholesterol, both of which are related to heart disease. "
In addition, Alexandra Salcedo, RD / N and Cardiac Rehabilitation Dietician at UC San Diego Health, points out that plant-based nutrition is also an environmentally friendly option as it reduces your carbon footprint. In fact, a 2016 study published in PloS One found that switching to a herbal diet could cut greenhouse gas emissions and land use by a whopping 70 percent and water use by 50 percent.
What are the disadvantages?
There are virtually no disadvantages of a vegetable diet. It should be noted, however, that adopting this approach requires some special consideration.
For one thing, Salcedo points out that you need to be a little more careful when traveling or eating if you plan your meals in advance. It is also worth noting that depending on the restriction of your plant-based diet, it may be more difficult to get the recommended daily intake of certain vitamins and minerals. This is especially true if you are vegan.
To make sure you get all the nutrients your body needs, Cecere and Salcedo recommend eating a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains. Imagine this: The more diverse the colors on your plate, the better.
Here are some specific nutrients that may be missing in a herbal diet, and tips on how to increase your intake:
Vitamin B12: According to Dr. Because this vitamin is only present in animal foods, but vegans can get sufficient levels from fortified breakfast cereals, fortified soymilk and some types of yeasts. He recommends a supplement of 50 to 100 micrograms in the form of a multivitamin, a sublingual tablet, a nasal spray or a gel.
Iron: While the most bioavailable form of iron can only be found in meat, poultry, seafood and fish, Dr. Ing. Because it is clear that non-heme iron is found in many plant foods (such as certain whole grains, vegetables and nuts). He suggests taking 200 to 250 milligrams of vitamin C or consuming vitamin C-rich foods when eating iron, as this vitamin helps your body absorb the mineral better. (Note: Do not take iron supplements unless prescribed by a doctor.)
Essential fatty acids: Fish, beef on pasture and eggs are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids. However, if you do not consume these foods, Dr. Because, other plant sources such as ground flax seeds, hemp seeds and walnuts look for and whole grains. Because some of the omega-3 fatty acids that come from plants are not absorbed so easily by the body, Danielle Schaub, RD and food and kitchen manager for Territory Foods, recommends taking a fish oil supplement.
Vitamin D: According to Dr. Because eggs, salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines are the best sources of vitamin D, but vegans and vegetarians can look for fortified soy milk and grains. Since most adults are already deficient in this vitamin, he also recommends that anyone who is on a plant-based diet should take 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily.
Remember, it is always a good idea to talk with your doctor before adding nutritional supplements to your diet or introducing a herbal diet because a doctor can give you a personal guide to your physical condition, health problems and health take into account current medications.
"People who have not taken any plant-based diet should slowly pass over, as it may take a while for our body to get used to it," says Evans.
Fortunately, there are many different ways to feed on the plant. You could start by trying to stick to meatless assembly and eliminate processed foods. From there you can concentrate on filling two-thirds of your plate with plant-based foods. Most importantly, remember to enjoy your new plant lifestyle. Challenge yourself to cook a new vegetable, whole grain or legume every week, buy a herbal-based cookbook and experiment with a friend, or ask your family to join you at a local, plant-based restaurant. If you adopt the herbal diet, the transition will undoubtedly be much more pleasant.