Veganism is becoming more and more popular with the introduction of veganary yet although most would presume that eating a vegan diet would suggest healthy, this unfortunately isn’t the case with more supermarkets and companies and fast foods restaurants jumping on the band wagon and producing highly processed meat alternatives and fast foods that are pretty much as bad as there meat counterparts.
So I avoid the term vegan as the only thing that it suggests is that there’s no meat involved so this is where the term “Plant Based” comes into its own.
You see plant based pretty much does exactly what it says on the tin…it’s fundamentally plant based derived so the foods that are eaten are natural whole foods. Of course with this term there is lea way so if you are not fully meat Andy dairy free, there is the option to add in omega 3 rich oily fish or red meat or even a little dairy.
But let’s focus on the plant based only side….
There are many that would question as to where this would provide enough protein, or fats or even omega 3.. well that’s where a healthy balance comes into practice and probably where most people would struggle as its ingrained in us that convenience equals nutrition.
We’ve all seen the food pyramid which is quite misleading as to what we should and shouldn’t be eating so this plant based food pyramid gives a good indication of that we should be eating albeit the option of adding meat protein sources etc.
Vegetables and low sugar fruits are the basis on the food pyramid providing us with essential nutrients, minerals, antioxidants, essential fibre and phytonutrients that have all been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and cancer.
These vegetables should form half of your plate and I don’t just mean a couple of carrots and some broccoli, I mean colourful, and lots of diversity so think more is more not less is more. Each colour food group supports different areas of the body so eating lots of different colours is only going to provide us with more health boosting benefits. Think 8 a day which some would say is too difficult but I promise you it isn’t!
Starchy vegetables provide us with resistant starch that helps to support our gut health as well as some of the other higher sugar foods that also provide phytonutrients, fibre and nutrients. Take the humble apple which is packed full of wonderful health promoting nutrients as well as prebiotics to help feed the good bacteria.
It’s true that vegetables and fruit provide us with some protein but sources such as tempeh a fermented soy bean block, tofu although highly processed, quinoa, buckwheat, legumes, beans and pulses and not forgetting the nuts and seeds that are all wonderful rich sources of protein which our body uses to build and repair tissue, make enzymes, hormones and forms the building blocks of bones, cartilage, skin and blood….pretty important I would say!
Healthy fats are vital for hormone production, brain health and heart health…think avocados, nuts and seeds, extra virgin olive oil, olives, they are all rich in these healthy fats so don’t be afraid of them….they won’t make you fat.
Carbohydrates have been demonised for so long now but they really are not the bad guy…okay so maybe the refined white breads and pasta as and cakes are but take the amazing health benefits of whole grains and oats that provide fibre which helps to breakdown the sugars for a slow releasing energy for the body as well as feeding the good bacteria to promote intestinal health.
Oats for instance are packed full of beta-glucan a fibre that has exceptional heart benefits as well as being packed full of antioxidants…yes the humble rolled oats!
Even sourdough which is formed from yeast fermented for long periods of time I see packed full of probiotics that helps our intestinal health.
And possibly the one food group that people over look is the concentrated nutrients from herbs and spices which in fact are enormous health benefits in such a small concentrated size. Think parsley, coriander, mint, ginger, turmeric which all have antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties and some even have the ability to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. They are so simple to add to foods to give that extra flavour…think pesto using herbs other than basil such as mint, coriander, how amount using turmeric in sauces or to colour your whole grain rice or quinoa. They can really add depth of flavour as well as supporting your health and well-being.
But there is one food that I have left to last as to be honest, it’s normally actually high on my list each day and that’s chocolate….yes you heard right!
I’m not talking about the milk and while chocolate; sorry! I’m talking about the purer forms such as cacao powder, 85% cacao content or higher chocolate bars, these are the ones that have these amazing health benefits. Did you know that cacao has the highest plant based magnesium content and magnesium supports over 300 chemical reactions within the body. It is also a rich source of iron as well as possessing antioxidants that support Andy reduce oxidants stress within the body that results in disease and aging.
So by following the simple plant based pyramid with some movement for adding in other protein sources, this is the basis of a healthy diet.
Think colour and diversity….think gut health and fibre!
We all have the ability to add these foods into our everyday, it’s just about changing our habits.