Plant Based Food
Plant based food, or plant based diet, is a food eating scheme stressing plant-derived food sources instead of meat and animal proteins. Plant based diets include vegetables, colorful seasonal fruits and cereals, beans, nuts, seeds, fruit oils, and whole grains. However, a plant-based diet is not a vegan diet that shuns all meat, egg, milk, or dairy products; but places great emphasis on vegetables, fruits, and whole grains while eating smaller portions of meat, seafood, or dairy.
What is plant based food?
For nutritional food sources, a plant based diet is an eating habit that prioritizes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs, and naturally unprocessed or minimally processed foods. Plant based meat are an alternative for those who need protein supplement but do not want to consume animal meat. Many plant based meat products are available nowadays containing no animal meat, milk, egg, or honey components, while still possessing the majority of nutrients the body requires daily.
What are the plant based food sources?
- Beans such as soybeans, mung beans, black beans, red beans, chickpeas, and lentils, containing complex carbohydrates, high in protein, and dietary fiber that helps with excretion, curtail intestinal fat absorption and helps maintain good blood sugar levels.
- Nuts such as almonds, walnuts, chestnuts, pistachios, sugar snap peas, and peanuts are low in carbohydrates, high in protein and good fat (HDL), and help reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) in the blood.
- Seeds such as flax, chia, pumpkin, and sunflower seeds help reduce cholesterol and triglycerides.
- Whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, oats, or whole wheat pasta, which contain more fiber than refined grains, reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and chronic diseases, and help control weight.
- Vegetables and fruits, high-fiber vegetables, and fruits such as broccoli, spinach, carrots, corn, guava, and green apples help prevent constipation, stimulate excretion, and help eliminate toxins from the body.
- Soybeans, tofu, and edamame are high in protein, which aids in prostate cancer, osteoporosis prevention, and skin nourishment.
What are the health benefits of a plant based diet?
Eating a plant based diet is supported by numerous academic studies regarding health improvement, including disease symptoms that gradually improve when switching to this diet as it is similar to a vegetarian and the Mediterranean diets, which focuses on vegetables, fish, eggs, cheese, Greek yogurt, fruits, nuts, and whole grains that are rich in fiber and antioxidants, particularly olive oil, the King of Oils, — a good fat that contains high amounts of monounsaturated oleic acids that help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and cerebrovascular disease. Additionally, plant based diets have numerous health benefits, including:
- Help reduce the risk of developing diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and some cancers such as colon cancer, breast cancer, or prostate cancer. Legumes such as almonds, hazelnuts, macadamias, or walnuts are also sources of protein and good fats that help with memory, reduce depression, and even improve frailty in the elderly population.
- Aids in weight control: Plant based diet contains less cholesterol; and reduces fat absorption. Consistently eating a plant based diet and performing regular exercise can help lower your BMI (body mass index) to a healthier level. Many dieters prefer a plant based diet during their diet to make it easier to maintain their physiques and be worry-free about the number of calories entering the body.
- Helping prevent disease: Eating a plant based diet consisting of vegetables and grains as the primary dish daily helps prevent Alzheimer's disease, dementia, and some other chronic diseases, as well as suppressing intestinal inflammation, and digestive disease, making the intestines healthy. In addition, studies have shown that eating a plant based diet also helps lower the incidence of arthritis, improves liver function, helps strengthen the kidneys, and slows the deterioration and aging process of the body.
- Helps keep your stomach full for longer: Plant based diet contains high-fiber food sources, a complex carbohydrate that helps keep your stomach full for longer without hunger between meals, helps regulate appetite, and aids in excretion.
- Environmentally friendly: Plant based diet focuses on eating natural, unprocessed foods, helps reduce the carbon footprint or greenhouse gas emission during transportation and product processing, saves energy, and helps protect the environment.
Plant based menus
Plant based diet menus include vegetables, fruits, grains, and other plant based products. Beginners on a plant based diet can easily follow these simple yet yummy recipes. Sample of plant based menus include:
- Day 1
Breakfast: Stir-fried plant based minced pork sandwich with Japanese sesame dressing and soy milk
Lunch: Stir-fried kale with plant based crispy pork served with brown rice
Dinner: Massaman curry with plant based chicken and potatoes served with brown rice
- Day 2
Breakfast: Omelet with mushrooms, sliced onions, sliced tomatoes, and pistachio milk
Lunch: Brown rice with stir-fried morning glory with plant based pork
Dinner: Quinoa Salad with plant based chicken breast, rocket, avocado, cherry tomatoes, roasted bell peppers, and lemon salad dressing
- Day 3
Breakfast: Tuna rolled with rice in seaweed wraps and almond milk
Lunch: Plant based Japanese curry served with rice
Dinner: Brown rice, grilled salmon, and green salad with olive oil dressing
How to start on a plant based diet?
Eating a plant based diet can be challenging initially; the body needs time to adjust to the new dietary plan. Dieters can start by gradually incorporating a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables in every meal, such as whole grains, lettuce, brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, and whole wheat bread, as well as sources of good fats from nuts, seeds, and avocados, which will help keep your stomach full longer.
When starting a plant based diet, each meal or snack should include at least 2/3 of vegetables and no more than 1/3 of meat products; eggs, cheese, yogurt, or honey can be a component of the recipes. Once your body adjusts to eating vegetables, try cutting down meat or other animal products consumption to one meal a day.
Plant based foods are nutrient-dense and rich in fiber, healthy fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals. This healthy eating habit can meet our nutritional requirements. A plant-based diet should pair with a daily exercise routine for maximal health benefits. Those requiring systematic diet guidance should consult a nutritionist, dietitian, or nutritional specialist for an initial evaluation and a personalized meal plan appropriate for each individual to achieve a healthy outcome.