01 JAN 2022

Beginners Guide to a Plant Based Diet

Studies have shown that a healthy, well-balanced plant-based diet is associated with a higher consumption of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and lower consumption of saturated fat and cholesterol.

If one of your goals is to incorporate a plant-based diet into your lifestyle this year, keep reading. There are many choices, and with a little knowledge you can decide who you want to be:

  • A vegan: A person who does not eat or use any products derived from animals;
  • A vegetarian: A person who does not eat meat but may eat other animal products such as eggs and dairy;
  • A pescatarian: A person who will eat fish and other seafood, but not the flesh of mammals;
  • A lacto-vegetarian: Someone who will eat dairy products but avoid eggs;
  • A ovo-vegetarian: A person who will eat eggs but not dairy products; or
  • A lacto-ovo-vegetarian: Someone who does not eat meat but will eat eggs and dairy. (This is the most common type of vegetarian diet.)

In addition to health benefits, there are various reasons why someone might adopt a plant-based diet such as: moral/ethical reasons, religious beliefs, cultural practice, etc. Studies have shown that a healthy, well-balanced plant-based diet is associated with a higher consumption of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and lower consumption of saturated fat and cholesterol.

A plant-based diet can help regulate weight, lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease. The key phrase to pay attention to here is “well-balanced.” It is important to be aware that in order to reap the benefits of a plant-based diet, you must replace meat products with fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and healthy fats and NOT processed/packaged foods.

Here are some tips on how to make the change:

  1. Start by taking time to do your research. Get your information from reliable, credible sources. Consult with your physician or a registered dietitian for advice and to ensure you are meeting all of your vitamin and protein needs.
  2. Make sure you are getting a wide variety of whole foods. Avoid processed snack foods. Eating the same foods day after day can result in nutrient deficiencies, not to mention food boredom! Choose foods of all different colors, the deeper and darker the color the better.
  3. Keep it simple. Plants are amazing just as they are. Start your year off right by making them the main focus of your diet and you can absolutely get all the nutrients you need for a long and healthy life.

If you're interested in incorporating a plant-based diet and would like additional guidance, you can schedule an appointment with a NorthBay nutritionist at (707) 624-7900.

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