Over the last few years, the world of healthy eating has experienced a radical paradigm shift, and now, more and more people are learning just how nutritious and delicious eating more plant-based foods can be. There are numerous benefits to incorporating more plants into your diet, including evidence of a lowered risk of coronary heart disease¹, prevention of Type 2 diabetes², and lowered blood pressure³.
However, not everyone finds it easy to convert to eating a diet that exclusively consists of plant-based foods. We know that giving up meat entirely just isn’t in the cards for some people, especially for those with higher nutritional needs like athletes and performance adventurers. The good news is, it’s not all or nothing. Plant-based foods can be a good ally and you don’t have to completely switch over to a strict plants-only diet to get the nutritional benefits of unprocessed and holistic plant foods.
Today, we’ll take a deep dive into what exactly a plant-based diet is, the health advantages of eating more plants, and some easy tips and tricks to incorporate more plant-based foods into your lifestyle.
What is a Plant-Based Diet?
Many people use the terms vegan and plant-based interchangeably, and while a plant-based diet has lots of overlap with a standard vegan diet, there are a few key differences.
A vegan diet excludes any and all animal products like meat and dairy, but a plant-based diet consists mostly or entirely of minimally processed plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. This means that there are no strictures or rules saying that in order to eat plant-based, you must give up meat or other animal products entirely, just that your diet will consist mainly of foods sourced from plants. Minimally processed is another key here, because while most vegans will consume processed meat and dairy substitutes, these substitutes usually aren’t recommended for those on a plant-based diet.
The Advantages of Eating More Plants
There are quite a few benefits to eating a plant-based diet, and lots of scientific studies to back these benefits up.
Plants Are Better For Your Heart Health.
While it’s been known for quite some time that overconsumption of red meat can be bad for your cardiovascular health, one 2020 study¹ showed evidence that replacing red meat with high-quality plant substitutes, like legumes, nuts, or soy, can reduce the risk for coronary heart disease. Another study by the Journal of the American Heart Association³ demonstrated that eating a mostly plant-based diet can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 16%.
Eating Plant-Based Can Lower Your Blood Pressure.
Eating more plants can have a beneficial effect on those with high blood pressure. One observational study⁴ took a look at (mainly omnivorous) populations in Japan, China, the UK, and the US. It demonstrated that eating a diet with less refined grains, sugar-sweetened beverages, and total meat and higher in plant-based foods typically results in lower blood pressure.
A Plant-Based Diet Can Reduce Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes.
Another way that eating more plants can help your health is by lowering your risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. One 2016 review² that focused on US populations showed that consumption of high-quality plant-based diets could lead to an up to 34% decrease in your chances of developing Type 2 diabetes. Even just by eating less meat and more plants, your risk of developing diabetes can be decreased by around 20%.
Eating Plants Can Help Control Inflammation.
One of the main ways that eating more plants can promote a more healthy body is by reducing inflammation. One study showed⁵ that plant-based foods have compounds that can help reduce inflammation, and reduced inflammation typically results in lower incidences of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other chronic inflammatory conditions.
How to Incorporate More Plant-Based Foods Into Your Diet:
There’s no need to completely overhaul your diet in order to eat more plants. Rather, think of plant-based foods as your ally in your journey towards a healthier lifestyle. If you’re stumped on how to incorporate more plants into your eating regimen, we have a few tips that can help you get some of the benefits of eating more plants without needing to change your entire lifestyle.
Eat a Plant-Based Breakfast.
Instead of trying to switch over to eating plants for every single meal, start small and just eat one plant-based meal a day, like breakfast. Starting your day with our super-breakfast is an easy switch for those looking to eat more plants. Made from minimally processed and holistic ingredients, HOLOS is packed with 20g of plant-based protein that will help sustain your energy throughout the day, no meat necessary.
Get Creative With Meat Substitutes.
While there are many delicious meat substitutes available at your local supermarket, most of them are full of overly-processed ingredients and packed with saturated fat. So rather than heading straight to grab popular veggie burgers or the like, think about replacing your burger with something less processed, like a Portobello Mushroom or even a homemade bean-based burger patty.
Make Grab and Go Plant-Based Snacks.
One of the best things about eating more plants is that you can consume a large volume of them with no guilt or worry about negative health effects. To incorporate more plants into your diet, switch out overly-processed snacks for more healthful and less processed alternatives, like hummus and carrots or celery and peanut butter.
Do Your Best and Your Body Will Thank You.
The all-or-nothing approach to a plant-based diet may work for some people, but at HOLOS, we’re never ones to advocate for extreme lifestyle changes or fad diets. Instead, think about just making small but gradual changes to your diet to get some of the benefits of the plant-based lifestyle. There’s no need to overhaul your entire diet, but by eating more plants, you’ll do wonders for your health by reducing your risk of disease and promoting long-lasting energy.
Al-Shaar L, Satija A, Wang D D, Rimm E B, Smith-Warner S A, Stampfer M J et al. Red meat intake and risk of coronary heart disease among US men: prospective cohort study BMJ 2020; 371 :m4141 doi:10.1136/bmj.m4141
Satija A, Bhupathiraju SN, Rimm EB, Spiegelman D, Chiuve SE, Borgi L, Willett WC, Manson JE, Sun Q, Hu FB. Plant-Based Dietary Patterns and Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes in US Men and Women: Results from Three Prospective Cohort Studies. PLoS Med. 2016 Jun 14;13(6):e1002039. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1002039. PMID: 27299701; PMCID: PMC4907448.
Kim H, Caulfield LE, Garcia-Larsen V, Steffen LM, Coresh J, Rebholz CM. Plant-Based Diets Are Associated With a Lower Risk of Incident Cardiovascular Disease, Cardiovascular Disease Mortality, and All-Cause Mortality in a General Population of Middle-Aged Adults. J Am Heart Assoc. 2019 Aug 20;8(16):e012865. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.119.012865. Epub 2019 Aug 7. PMID: 31387433; PMCID: PMC6759882.
Aljuraiban G, Chan Q, Gibson R for the INTERMAP Research Group, et al. Association between plant-based diets and blood pressure in the INTERMAP study: BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health 2020;3:doi: 10.1136/bmjnph-2020-000077
Watzl B. Anti-inflammatory effects of plant-based foods and of their constituents. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2008 Dec;78(6):293-8. doi: 10.1024/0300-9818.104.22.1683. PMID: 19685439.