If you’re like most Canadians, you probably agree that eating more fruits and vegetables is good for you. But did you know that switching to a plant-based diet can improve your health at any stage of life and any activity level?
Benefits of Switching it Up
To be clear, a plant-based diet refers to a way of eating that prioritizes food from plants over food from animals. And evidence suggests that adopting a plant-based diet:
- lowers blood pressure,
- improves cholesterol levels,
- encourages a healthier weight, and
- lowers the incidence of type-2 diabetes
All of which can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer.
But while eating more fiber from whole foods is important and necessary, it doesn’t have to mean “all or nothing”. According to Canada’s food guide recommendations, you can positively impact your health by:
- Choosing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and plant-based proteins more often.
- Choosing highly processed foods less often.
Opting for natural or minimally processed foods and freshly made meals over ultra-processed foods is an excellent rule of thumb for better health.
Everything Your Body Needs
As people move toward plant-based eating they often ask: if I replace the meat and dairy in my diet, where will my protein, iron, and calcium come from – and will I get enough?
Rest assured that, as long as you take in enough calories, eating a well-planned variety of plant-based foods daily will provide adequate amounts of these nutrients.
So, make it a habit to eat more:
- Whole grains like quinoa, oats, wild rice, and whole grain breads and pasta.
- Fruits and vegetables like apples, oranges, carrots, spinach, beets, and broccoli.
- Protein plants like chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, tofu, and nuts.
But be wary of marketing and misleading food labels.
While many companies sell “green-washed” ultra-processed foods like “plant-based” chips, cookies, and burgers, these shouldn’t be considered everyday choices if you’re trying to improve the health of your diet.
Making the Switch Happen
The great news is that you can walk, run, or jump towards a plant-based diet with no prescription needed. And every small change you make means a corresponding health benefit for your microbiome.
Start by taking steps that you’re comfortable making.
Rather than spending money on a fancy smoothie maker, for example, consider:
- chopping up some fruit and adding it to your breakfast cereal,
- experimenting with “meatless Mondays”, or
- replacing one meal each day with high-fiber, whole foods
Remember: it doesn’t have to be expensive, inconvenient, or complicated to get healthier with a plant-driven diet.
(If you want to learn more about what a plant-based diet can do for your health, ask one of Dialogue’s specialists about consulting with a nutritionist).