They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away.
But what about a regular diet that’s mainly based on plants?
Fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods aren’t only advisable for your health when eaten as an add-on to your meals. But they’re also extremely beneficial when they’re the primary part of your diet.
In fact, numerous scientific studies and research prove that a plant-based diet can reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, dementia, and the list goes on. However, these same publications also warn that you can only experience the benefits of plant-based diets when you follow a balanced one.
So, what’s a healthy plant-based diet and what are the top scientific benefits of it? That’s what we’re tackling in today’s blog.
What is a Plant-Based Diet?
A plant-based diet is when you decide that a significant portion of your meals consists of foods from plants. This means you don’t necessarily have to forgo all meat products, like beef and pork.
Rather, you choose to eat less meat in favour of plant-based alternatives. These include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and plant proteins like seeds, nuts, legumes, beans, and lentils.
How Common Are Plant-based Diets?
Have you noticed more vegetarian and vegan menu options in your local restaurants?
Well, it’s just not in your neighbourhood—it’s happening around the globe. People who follow a vegan diet went up by 3,000% from 2004. Plus, plant-based food sales grew by 20% in 2020—twice the rate of general food sales.
And that’s not all. Data shows that plant-based diets soared during the pandemic.
Proagrica reports that 18% of people in the United Kingdom have been eating more vegetarian and vegan meals since the start of the pandemic. Meanwhile, 39% are more inclined to choose plant-based meals when eating out.
In the United States, 48% of consumers are now actively looking for plant-based food, and 25% are eating more plant proteins than before. As more people demand plant-based foods, it’s obvious that it is here to stay. And for good reason, plant-based research proves that there are multiple benefits to a plant-based diet.
5 Scientific Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet
With the rise of plant-based options, as well as the multiple scientific benefits that come with them, it's no wonder that many are considering this lifestyle change. But what exactly will a plant-based diet do for your health?
Here are the top 5 health benefits of plant-based diets:
#1 - Protects You from Heart Diseases
In 2021, the Journal of the American Heart Association conducted a study among 4,946 adults between the ages of 18 and 30. They found that 52% are less likely to develop cardiovascular diseases as long as they subscribe to a plant-centered diet. And 61% have lower risks of getting one as they grow older and improve their diet.
That’s because plant-based foods are rich in monounsaturated fats, have anti-inflammatory properties, and are rich in fibre. All of these contribute to lowering your LDL (bad) cholesterol, reducing plaque build-up, and lowering your blood pressure, among other things.
#2 - Boosts Brain Function
The World Health Organization ranks Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia as one of the top causes of death around the world. This ranks even higher than diabetes and kidney disease. While there’s still no definite cure for dementia, you can take several preventive measures like having a plant-based diet.
Research shows that increasing your daily consumption of fruits and vegetables by at least 100 grams, can lower your chances of developing cognitive impairment and dementia. Furthermore, an Oxford University paper found that vegetarians are 38% less likely to get dementia versus non-vegetarians. This is because a healthier heart is linked to a healthier mind.
#3 - Fights Against Cancer
There’s no better way to prevent cancer than to follow a diet of nutritional plants. According to the American Cancer Society, a healthy and nutritious diet can prevent 25% of overall cancer cases. More than this, Cancer Management Research also found that plant-based diets can decrease your risk for overall cancer by 10-12%.
But how can a plant-based diet protect you from cancer?
Plant-rich foods are full of phytochemicals, fibre, vitamins, and minerals, which are considered cancer-protective nutrients. For example, organic pumpkin seeds, a common ingredient in a plant-based diet, are rich in antioxidants that fight off free radicals and other chemicals that harm your body.
#4 - Prevents Type 2 Diabetes
While diabetes is linked to many environmental and genetic factors, whole-grain foods also have properties that help protect you against diabetes. Meanwhile, root and leafy vegetables and select fruits have been proven to reduce diabetes risk. Additionally, legumes aid in developing and addressing insulin resistance.
On top of that, some studies also report that plant-based diets have the potential to reverse the effects of diabetes.
#5 – Reduces Your Carbon Footprint
Aside from its numerous nutritional advantages, people are also switching to a plant-based diet because of its environmental benefits. An article published by the National Library of Medicine stated that plant-based diets may:
- Decrease land used for diet and food by 76%
- Lower air pollution caused by food production by 49%
- Reduce freshwater consumption by up to 21%
Beyond this, Stanford University reports that if everyone in the US stopped eating meat-based food once a week, it will have a similar environmental impact as removing 7.6 million cars from the road.
Find a Diet that Works For You
Plant-based diets aren’t just another fad diet with many insubstantial claims. In fact, they’re one of the healthiest and most recommended diets by experts because of their numerous scientific benefits. They prevent heart disease, protect you from cancer, boost brain health, and combat diabetes.
Are you thinking of adapting to a plant-based diet but don’t know where to begin?
At Nutrika, we curate a range of nutritious plant-based food products for a fresher and more sustainable diet. Learn more about our tasty snacks, natural oils, and nutritious powders to see what works for you.