The health benefits are winning the conversation.
Think about it. Old eating habits are hard to break. For the better part of our lives we’ve eaten what our great-grandparents, grandparents and parents ate. Holidays and special occasions are always centered on food — healthy, or not. Times have changed and so have attitudes about eating healthier. Now, it’s a matter of health.
Plant-based or plant-forward eating patterns focus on foods primarily from plants. This includes not only fruits and vegetables, but also nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes and beans. It doesn’t mean that you are vegetarian or vegan and never eat meat or dairy. It does mean you are proportionately choosing more of your foods from plant sources.
According to the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, when you adopt a whole food, plant-based lifestyle you can increase the odds that you will:
- Lower risk of prostate, breast and other cancers.
- Prevent, even reverse, heart disease.
- Prevent and treat diabetes.
- Lose weight and have more energy.
I know of nothing else in medicine that can do what a plant-based diet can do. – T. Colin Campbell, PhD.
The Harvard Health blog describes a couple of popular plant-based diets: Mediterranean and vegetarian diets. The Mediterranean diet has been shown in both large population studies and randomized clinical trials to reduce risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, certain cancers (specifically colon, breast, and prostate cancer), depression, and in older adults, a decreased risk of frailty, along with better mental and physical function.
Vegetarian diets have also been shown to support health, including a lower risk of developing coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and increased longevity.
Plant-based diets offer all the necessary protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals for optimal health, and are often higher in fiber and phytonutrients. However, some vegetarians may need to add a supplement (specifically, vitamin B12) to ensure they receive all the nutrients the body requires.
Always consult with your doctor and nutritionist before making any diet changes.