There are a lot of benefits to a plant based diet. Creating less waste or no waste is beneficial to the planet and our atmosphere for many other reasons. There have been many controversies about plant based diets in regards to protein sufficiency, Vitamin B12 deficiency, and even calcium sufficient intake arguments. By eating a plant based diet, you can avoid plaque buildup in your blood vessels and lower your risk of heart disease, and you benefit from a multitude of health reasons such as:
- Diabetes prevention
- Hypertension control
- Heart health
- Weight Loss
- Fiber Intake
- Vision Value
- Skin Care
The list of reasons to start or even try to a plant based diet outweighs the other side of that argument. Here is a list of 9 great reasons why you should start one.
1. Plants Have Less Saturated Fat
Saturated fats, or fats that are saturated with hydrogen, are typically solid at room temperature and are found in meat and animal products like beef, lamb, butter, cheese, and high-fat dairy products. They’re also found in coconut oil, cocoa butter, and palm oil.
According to medical experts at the American Heart Association (AHA), eating saturated fats increases the amount of cholesterol in your blood, which in turn raises your risk for heart disease and stroke. The organization recommends that people on a 2,000-calorie diet have only about 13 grams (g) of saturated fat per day.
2. You Can Cut Fatty Meats From Your Diet
Our bodies need a small amount of cholesterol to function, but most of us make enough on our own without adding it to our diets through fatty meats. Cholesterol is only found in animal-derived food products, not plants.
Why does excessive cholesterol matter? According to the American Heart Association, having high cholesterol in your blood is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and heart attack.
The bad form of cholesterol (LDL) is one of the products that makes up atherosclerotic plaque. Other fats, waste products, and calcium can also contribute to this buildup of plaque in the arteries (which carry blood away from the heart), causing them to become blocked and hardened, and potentially leading to a heart attack or stroke.
Low blood cholesterol levels can be achieved by replacing saturated fats and oils with monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats, found in foods like avocados, olive oil, and nuts. Less then 10 percent of daily calories should come from saturated fats.
3. Plants Increase Fiber in Your Diet
A well-rounded, plant-based diet should also increase the amount of fiber you get. And increasing fiber is one way to reduce the bad cholesterol circulating in your body, says Joan Salge Blake, RD, clinical associate professor at Boston University’s Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, and a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.
Fiber interacts with the bad cholesterol in your digestive tract and helps remove it more quickly from your body, Salge Blake says. This decreases the overall amount of bad cholesterol absorbed in your body. Fiber is found in foods like beans, lentils, fruits, vegetables, and nuts, so she recommends making healthy food swaps, like reducing or cutting meat out of chili and adding beans to the pot instead.
4. Eating Less Meat Lowers Diabetes and Obesity Risks
Eating meat, or consuming higher amounts of saturated fat, is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Having diabetes, in turn, is thought to make you twice as likely to experience heart disease and stroke, notes the AHA. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), having diabetes increases your risk of having heart disease or stroke at an earlier age.
5. Fruits and Veggies Lower Blood Pressure
One well-known and often recommended diet for people with hypertension is the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. While this diet is focused on reducing the amount of sodium in the diet, it also aims to lower meat intake.
The DASH diet calls for you to increase your intake of fruits and vegetables, and to eat only 5 ounces (oz) of protein-based foods daily. You should have no more than 26 oz of meat, poultry, and eggs each week.
6. Plants Enrich Your Diet With Omega-3s
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, eating omega-3 fatty acids can reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure, and it can also lower your cholesterol. Omega-3 fatty acids are not made in the body, so the only way to get them is through your diet.
Some kinds of omega-3s, including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are found in cold-water fish like salmon, sardines, and tuna. DHA and EPA are converted into usable omega-3s more readily than is the plant-based alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). For this reason, many dietary guidelines that recommend lowering the amount of meat and poultry are increasingly including the regular consumption of fish.
ALA is found in many plant-based foods, including pumpkin seeds, canola oil, soybeans, walnuts, and flaxseeds.
7. A Vegan Diet Adds Beneficial Nutrients
A host of nutrients in a vegan diet are heart-protective, Salge Blake says. Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants, plant sterols, phytochemicals, and potassium, which are all thought to reduce the risk of heart disease.
According to the AHA, potassium helps to reduce the effects of sodium, which is known to raise blood pressure in the body. Potassium is found in a wide range of plant-based foods, including sweet potatoes, spinach, mushrooms, soybeans, almonds, bananas, apricots, tomatoes, and cantaloupe.
8. You Can Avoid Unhealthy Components of Meat
When you replace animal products with plant-based ones, you’re not only adding beneficial nutrients, but you’re taking harmful ones out, too. Along with cholesterol and saturated fats, for example, meat also has heme iron, which comes from the blood in meat and can create reactive oxygen — a contributor to heart attacks, Williams says.
9. With a plant based diet and shopping for these ingredients without packaging, achieving a zero waste lifestyle is quite easy. If you shop in the fresh vegetables and fresh fruit section of the grocery store, it’s easy to find the ones that you like for your daily dietary needs.