Healthy Plant Based Diets

Healthy Plant Based Diets

For a couple of years now, research has focussed on the benefits of plant based diets for a healthier heart and circulatory system. But recent research suggests that it isn’t that simple.

While some people completely eliminate all animal associated foods from their “plant based diet”, others include small moderate amounts of animal sourced foods (such as yogurt). So, the definition itself can be confusing and this might also vary from person to person depending on their preference.

To add to this, there are a lot of plant based foods that are unhealthy. An easy example would be the fries that come with every fast food meal as a side. Yes, this is plant based BUT would you consider this healthy?

A recent research article decided to address these questions and see what their associated risk is for cardiovascular disease (link below). They found that a plant based diet consisting of healthy foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, oils, tea and coffee and are associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. However, plant based diets that include refined grains, potatoes (fries), and foods and vegetables that are high in sugar increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

I will confess to being a carnivore that loves her salads. Including healthy animal sourced foods in your diet is actually better than including unhealthy plant sourced foods. An example would be yogurt. This is an animal sourced food but has healthy amounts of calcium and probiotics that can benefit your health.

A great resource if you are considering a plant based diet is the Canada Food guide (https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/). It breaks it down into how your plate should be divided at each meal. Half the plate should be vegetables and fruits. Protein is also important (1/4 plate) and you have a choice of whether you would like to go with animal or plant based proteins. And lastly, the meal is closed off with whole grains (1/4 plate). So, having that grilled chicken or steak and pairing it with some hearty vegetables or light salad and wild rice to close off your meal is actually not a bad thing as long as you are aware of your portions.

Lastly, it is easy to take your drink of choice at a meal for granted. A nice glass of red wine to go with that steak or a crisp cold cider to go with that grilled chicken sounds enticing. Don’t even get me started with pop and the variety of juice choices! But here’s the deal. We all know water is the healthiest choice. But having that wine and cider or pop/juice every once in a while is okay.

The more you restrict yourself, the more your chances of binge eating at the end of the week. So allow yourself to indulge every once in a while but again be mindful of your food and try to be healthy whenever you can.

If you are considering a plant based diet, a quick summary of what you should be eating is below.

Healthy plant based diet Unhealthy plant based diet
Whole grains Refined grain
Fruits Processed foods
Vegetables Potatoes / fries
Legumes Foods with high sugar
Nuts Drinks with high sugar
Tea/coffee  
Oils  

Original article : https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11883-019-0779-5

Canada Food Guide : https://food-guide.canada.ca/e

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