5 Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet
A plant-based diet, which focuses on consuming all or mostly plant-based foods, has exponentially grown in popularity over the past 15 years. It has now been adapted by over 9 million Americans, and this is no coincidence; eating a plant-based diet can result in benefits for the environment and your health that are well worth the trouble of altering your eating habits. Here is a breakdown of this increasingly popular way of eating, and 5 benefits of a plant-based diet.
What is a Plant Based Diet?
A plant-based diet focuses on consuming foods primarily from plants such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans. Some people who follow a plant-based diet choose to completely avoid all animal products, some choose to omit meat and fish but consume dairy, and some choose to incorporate small amounts of all types of animal products into their meals. There are different interpretations of what eating “plant-based” looks like. What is important in a plant-based diet is that it focuses primarily on foods derived from plants.
Reduced Carbon Footprint
Dietary choices are a key component in the size of our carbon footprint. According to a 2014 study, consuming more plant-based foods and shifting away from animal-based foods could add up to 49% to the global food supply without expanding croplands. Animal agriculture is the second largest contributor of carbon and methane emissions after fossil fuels, and cattle contributes by far the largest amount of these emissions. Replacing beef with plant-based foods would reduce the amount of carbon dioxide produced by the average American diet by 96%! In additional to the hefty CO2 emissions, industrial farming is a leading cause of air and water pollution, deforestation, and accounts for biodiversity loss.
Help with Weight Loss / Help Maintain a Healthy Weight
Eating a plant-based diet can also help with both weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight. A study conducted by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine on 64 obese women showed that simply by avoiding animal products and keeping oils to a minimum, participants all lost about a pound per week, without calorie counting or exercise. After about 2 years, the participants maintained the weight loss. Due to the abundance of fiber in plant-based foods, plant-based diets will fill you up with less food-volume than animal products, therefore allowing you to consume less calories.
Improve Brain Health
Another benefit of eating a plant-based diet is that it can improve your brain health. A study by the British Journal of Psychiatry examining dietary patterns and depression showed that participants who ate more whole, unprocessed foods had a lower risk of depression, and plant-based eaters also had better overall moods. The reason for this: whole foods contain many brain-essential nutrients. For example, leafy greens can delay cognitive decline, and berries can aid attention and memory. A plant-based diet can even help prevent dementia, according to early findings of a large-scale study which found that dementia is more common in meat eaters compared to vegetarians.
Boost Your Immune System
Due to the many vitamins and minerals, phytochemicals, and antioxidants in plants, a plant-based diet can also support your immune system in a way that animal products are unable to. Your immune system protects your body from harmful substances, germs, and cell changes that could make you ill. Nutrients such as zinc, iron, copper, and Vitamins A, B6, C, and E, best obtained from plant-based foods, are imperative to boosting your immune system. The high contents of phytochemicals and antioxidants in plant-based foods help prevent damage to immune cells and help keep our bodies in check. Without a healthy immune system, we would have no way to fight off harm to our bodies from the outside, or harmful changes happening inside our bodies. Especially during a global pandemic, a strong immune system is imperative to our health.
Reduced Risk of Heart Disease
Finally, a plant-based diet can help reduce the risk of heart disease; the number one leading cause of death for Americans. According to a review in the journal Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, plant-based diets are the only dietary pattern to have shown reversal of coronary heart disease, and vegetarian dietary patterns can reduce cardiovascular disease mortality and the risk of coronary heart disease by 40%. Meat and high-fat dairy products such as butter and cheese contain saturated fats which, when consumed, increase your cholesterol, and raise risk of heart disease. Eating a plant-based diet helps you avoid harmful fats, therefore benefiting your heart health.
It’s clear in these 5 benefits of a plant-based diet that, with your doctor’s approval, eating a plant-based diet can do wonders for your physical health, your mental health, and even the environment. One easy way to transition into a plant-based diet: swapping out dairy-milk for plant-based milks! Covico liquid coconut milk and coconut milk powders contain better-for-you fats, are 100% plant-based, and are a fantastic addition to smoothies, soups, sauces, baking mixes, ice cream, and much more! To learn more about Covico coconut milk, visit our website.