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Understanding what makes up a healthy plant-based diet

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Every now and then it can be helpful to review what it is that makes up a healthy plant-based diet. Plant-based eating still has its detractors out there, but you can be confident that it provides all the necessary nutrients humans need while avoiding inflammatory animal products and highly processed foods.

But don’t take plant-based eating for granted. It can easily become unhealthy if you fall into a routine that doesn’t review its content. Are you getting enough greens, for instance? And what about the colours? Are you still eating plenty of variety? Ideally, it should be up to 30 different plants per week.

Also, be wary of the term plant-based in itself. Just because meals or products are labeled plant-base doesn’t mean they are healthy. Many commercial products still contain high amounts of sugar, oil and salt. Confused? Don’t worry many of us are at times. Even some restaurants will list a dish as plant-based when it still contains some animal products.

To help in this regard we have produced this chart to explain the different dietary makeup of common plant-based eating styles. The primary food groups of whole food plant-based eating are presented in this .pdf document.

Always be wary. This diet is not healthy just because you “feel good” or solely because it saves animals or is good for the planet. But, plant-based eating, generally and what we describe on this website as WFPB (whole food plant-based), is backed by serious scientific research, something Dr Micheal Greger explains in the podcast below.

Here are some basic first steps to consider if you are interested in doing a self-review of your current eating regime:

  • Fruits and Vegetables: Ensure that your diet includes a diverse range of colorful fruits and vegetables. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants necessary for good health. Aim for a variety of types and include leafy greens, berries, citrus fruits, and cruciferous vegetables.
  • Whole Grains: Whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, oats, and whole wheat provide essential nutrients, including fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They help maintain a healthy gut, regulate blood sugar levels, and provide sustained energy.
  • Legumes and Pulses: Beans, lentils, chickpeas, and other legumes are excellent sources of protein, fiber, iron, and other nutrients. They contribute to a well-rounded plant-based diet by providing essential amino acids and promoting satiety.
  • Nuts, Seeds, and Healthy Fats: Incorporate a variety of nuts and seeds such as almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and hemp seeds into your diet. These provide healthy fats, essential omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. They can be consumed as snacks, added to meals, or used as toppings for salads and smoothies.
  • Plant-Based Protein Sources: Incorporate plant-based protein sources like tofu, tempeh, Hemp, and chia seeds. Plant-based protein powders and juicing are not necessary unless you’re looking for a quick taste of something different. Protein-rich foods are essential for muscle repair and overall health but don’t overconsume protein; it’s not necessary.

Finally, always increase your knowledge on this subject. We are developing and consistently expanding a recommended reading list on WFPB eating. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you see a book missing from our collection.

Check out what Dr Greger has to say about all this in his podcast below:

Whole Food Living reviews and selects material from a wide variety of international sources. Our primary focus covers food, health and environment. We publish fact checked official announcements made as the result of formal studies conducted by Universities, respected health care organisations, journals, and scientists around the globe.

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