With hundreds of different types of diets and fads, it’s become incredibly hard to stick with one that you truly support. However, the latest research has shown that whatever dietary lifestyle you choose to pursue, make sure it’s one that is plant-based.
Plant-based diets are diets that primarily rely on vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, and healthy fats such as avocados and coconuts. It’s essentially a diet that is rich in vegetables, fruits, and legumes, while minimizing or excluding meat, dairy, and eggs. There are many plant-based diets today – some include the Macrobiotic Diet, Mediterranean Diet, Raw Diet, Vegan Diet, and some vegetarian diets. Plant based diets provide high amounts of complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins C, E, & B12, and omega-6 fatty acids.
Why is it important to be on a plant-based diet?
Plant-based diets have been proven to have a potential cancer-weakening effect, as well as help to decrease inflammation in the body, support pH levels, and increase longevity. Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham identified certain foods that might be able to transform ER-negative breast cancers into a more treatable disease. Why is this important? Because tumors that are estrogen-receptor negative are less likely to respond to hormone therapy. A 2017 study revealed that compounds (notably sulforaphane and polyphenols) in plant-based dietary foods could change tumors from ER-negative to ER-positive cancers, making the cancer more likely to respond to treatment.
Best foods to eat
Some of the best plant-based foods to include in your diet are:
- Cruciferous Vegetables – broccoli sprouts, kale, collard greens, cabbage, turnips, broccoli rabe, and bok choy all contain the antioxidant sulforphane
- Green tea – contains beneficial polyphenols
- Healthy fats – like avocado oil, virgin olive oil, hemp, sesame, flax, coconut milk, and nuts are all great sources of good fats from plant-based foods
- Fruits– such as strawberries, blackberries, kiwis, and other tropical fruits which are full of fiber, antioxidants & vitamins
How to get started
While it might be hard to eliminate your morning scrambled eggs or omelettes, and say no to that burger, here are a few tips on how to get started today in eating a plant-based diet
- Load up on vegetables. Whatever meal you are having, make sure that at least half of your plate consists of vegetables. Also consider incorporating vegetables into your snacking habits throughout the day, like eating some celery sticks with hummus or guacamole.
- Go completely vegetarian at least three times a week. This is a great practice for learning how to solely depend on vegetables to meet your daily nutrient requirements.
- Watch your fats. As mentioned, olive oil, avocado oil, and nuts should be the primary sources of healthy fat throughout this diet. Try to avoid unhealthy saturated-fat seed and other processed oils like canola oil.
- Have smoothies for breakfast. Smoothies are an incredibly high-protein alternative to your daily omelettes or eggs. My favorite recipes include coconut or almond milk with a tropical fruit assortment, a scoop of bone broth protein powder, a spoon of almond butter, a dash of cinnamon, and some chia seeds.
- Take it one step at a time. I know how overwhelming it can be to completely ditch your old food patterns, however by taking it one step at a time, the process becomes a lot easier. For example, start by replacing your regular skim milk with an almond or coconut milk alternative. Then try to start exploring other vegan cheese options if you’re a cheese enthusiast.