Plant-based diets have become popular in recent years, but what do they entail and are they really worth the hype? It is often thought that plant-based eating means to follow a plant-exclusive diet such as vegan or vegetarian, however, this is not necessarily the case! Consuming a plant-based diet does not mean that you must cut out animal products, such as dairy, seafood, meat and poultry. Instead, following a plant-based style of eating can involve increasing the amount or variety of plant-foods you consume in your eating pattern, while also including animal products too. Now, we’ve mentioned the phrase ‘plant-based foods’ a lot, but what types of foods are we talking about? Well, anything that comes from a plant! Think whole foods, such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, wholegrains, and legumes, such as beans and lentils, herbs and spices, as well as foods made from these.
Consuming a plant-based diet has been shown to have many benefits for our health and for many reasons. Including various plant foods in your eating pattern can assist with meeting fibre requirements and help to support our gut health. By feeding the healthy bugs that live in our gut, as well as promoting regular bowel movements, consuming enough fibre can have substantial benefits on both physical and mental health, too!
By enjoying a wide variety of plant foods in your eating pattern, it can also assist with meeting micronutrient requirements, by providing essential vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants and phytochemicals, that support good health. Plant-based diets have also been shown to be beneficial in the management of many chronic diseases and conditions. For example, consuming a variety of plant foods on a regular basis can assist with managing blood glucose levels in individuals experiencing diabetes, as well as assist with the management of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and even certain cancers. Plant-based diets also show promise in terms of sustainability and cost-effectiveness.
Now that we’ve talked about the benefits, check out the following top tips for eating more plant foods:
- Add frozen fruit or vegetables (or both) to a smoothie
- Sprinkle a handful of nuts and/or seeds onto your breakfast cereal, a salad or enjoy them for a snack
- Enjoy a snack platter with fruit pieces, veggie sticks, hummus, wholegrain crackers and some nuts/seeds
- As we head into the cooler months, enjoy a warm, nourishing soup made with a variety of vegetables and lentils – yum!
Again, enjoying a plant-based eating pattern does not mean that you need to cut out animal products, such as meats, fish, poultry and dairy foods, as these foods can all be important sources of nutrition. Instead, ask yourself, am I eating enough plants?
If you’re not sure, that’s OK! We are here to help. Whether it be increasing the variety of plant-foods you consume or perhaps you would like to improve the quality of your eating pattern in general, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us!
Here at Optimum Intake Dietitians, we pride ourselves in supporting individuals to make positive, sustainable changes towards improving all aspects of health. Contact us now via phone or email to find out more about our services or book an appointment with one of our Accredited Practising Dietitians. Ph: 0499 008 451 or visit the contact page to get in touch.