A plant-based diet focuses on eating a variety of foods from plants. Examples of plant foods include vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. A plant-based diet also encourages reaching nutrient goals from plant sources instead of processed foods. Examples of nutrient-rich plant foods include beans, lentils, soybeans, and nuts. These foods are higher in protein and low in saturated and trans fats.
Plant-based eating is similar to vegan and vegetarian diets. What makes plant-based eating different than these diets is it does not eliminate food groups like meat and dairy, but rather encourages eating plants as the main protein and fat source instead of meat and dairy. This means that most of the nutrients and calories consumed on a day-to-day basis are sourced from plants.
Benefits of Plant-Based Eating
Plant-based eating has many health-related benefits. Because this type of eating pattern is lower in fat, but higher in healthy fats like omega-3s, it is heart-healthy and can reduce blood pressure and blood cholesterol. High blood cholesterol and blood pressure are linked to a diet high in saturated and trans fats which comes from processed foods like chips, French fries, and red meat for example.
A plant-based diet also has lots of fiber. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that our body cannot digest. Fiber helps with slowing digestion which can stabilize blood glucose levels and keep you full for longer.
Plants in general are also lower in calories, which can help with weight loss. Plant-sourced foods contain a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants which also help with immune health. Overall, plant-based diets offer a lot of benefits. If you think a plant-based diet may seem right for you, talk to your primary care physician, dietitian or health care provider.
Philip J Tuso, MD Nutritional Update for Physicians: Plant-Based Diets http://www.thepermanentejournal.org/issues/2013/spring/5117-nutrition.html