Why is a Plant-Based Diet Better for You?

Vegan or vegetarian, which is best for you? How about I offer something different to the table: a plant-based diet. A plant-based diet is better for you because it:

  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Lowers risk of heart disease
  • Lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes

There are more benefits to a plant-based diet. But for the sake of this post, we will only focus on these three advantages.

What is a Plant-based Diet?

Before we get into the benefits of a plant-based diet, let’s first look into what consists of a plant-based diet.

A plant-based diet focuses mainly on plants as the primary source of food. It is different from a vegetarian or vegan diet in that a plant-based diet does not limit food sources to just plants. A plant-based diet allows meat consumption, but only a limited amount.

This kind of diet relies on fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, whole grains, seeds as the overall source of nutrition. But it still gets a few ingredients from animals.

The Three Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet

Now let’s see how a plant-based diet delivers the three primary benefits listed above.

Lowers Blood Pressure

High blood pressure can damage and ultimately rupture blood vessels. It can also cause the blood to clot within the vessels. High blood pressure’s damage to the blood vessels and arteries can lead to different health conditions such as:

  • Aneurysms
  • Coronary artery disease 
  • Enlarged left heart 
  • Heart failure
  • Cognitive decline
  • Dementia
  • Stroke
  • Kidney scarring
  • Kidney failure
  • Retinopathy (retina damage)
  • Nerve damage

If you want to prevent or control high blood pressure, you surely have been thinking about what you eat. An overall plant-based diet is proven to lower blood pressure.

Some of the causes of high blood pressure are being overweight or obese and too much salt and cholesterol. But with a plant-based diet, you effectively eliminate these factors. Let’s break down these factors one by one.

If your diet is plant-based, you consume minimal amounts of meat and other foods taken from animals, like animal fat. Animal fat is one of the most damaging contributors to obesity. Consuming more animal fat than you burn off translates to excess weight.

A plant-based diet limits sodium consumption to the bare minimum because plants generally don’t need sodium to thrive. Sodium is a major component of salt; therefore, the less sodium you intake, the less salt you eat.

Additionally, plants don’t contain cholesterol. Cholesterol is exclusive only to foods sourced from animals. So by consuming fewer animal products and more plant-based food, you are reducing your cholesterol levels.

Furthermore, avoiding meat, dairy, and added animal fats, in general, will reduce your blood vessel’s viscosity or thickness. Reduced blood vessel viscosity makes pumping the blood easier and reduces high blood pressure.

Lastly, fruits and vegetables generally contain more potassium than animal-based foods. Potassium is one of the nutritional vanguards against high blood pressure.

Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

We’ve already discussed how a plant-based diet contains minimal fat, sodium, and cholesterol, and It helps maintain a healthy weight. All of those factors contribute to the development of heart disease. But there are other reasons why a plant-based diet lowers the risk of heart disease: plants are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

In general, a plant-based diet reduces the risk of heart disease by eliminating the factors that contribute to said disease. But fiber does more than that; fiber actively fights the causes of heart disease. The primary function of fiber in the body is to clean the digestive system, but it does more than that.

Scientists are not yet fully aware of everything fiber does to prevent heart disease, but here are the known facts:

Flushes out cholesterol particles: soluble fiber binds with cholesterol in the digestive system before the body absorbs the cholesterol.

Fiber lowers blood pressure: experts aren’t sure how or why, but a small study discovered that consistently consuming high-fiber foods resulted in a significant drop in blood pressure. The study put 233 volunteers on a diet consisting of whole wheat and whole oats for twelve weeks. By the end of the twelve weeks, the participants had a considerable drop in their blood pressure levels.

Fiber improves fibrinolytic activity and blood lipid profiles: to avoid getting into the specifics of those biological terms, suffice to say that dietary fiber reduces heart diseases through those mechanisms.

Lowers Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

A generally plant-based diet is high in nutrients that promote insulin sensitivity. The higher your insulin sensitivity is, the more effectively your cells react to blood glucose. Insulin gives the cells capability to absorb glucose from the bloodstream, thereby preventing the glucose from overwhelming the bloodstream.

The glucose then transforms into energy. Without insulin, glucose just stays in the bloodstream, and cells are left without fuel. Your body’s natural systems will malfunction, and type 2 diabetes develops.

Aside from promoting insulin sensitivity, a plant-based diet generally increases your fiber, antioxidants, and magnesium intake. 

Soluble fiber slows down sugar absorption and reduces blood sugar levels. Antioxidants like polyphenols also lower glucose absorption, stimulate insulin production, and more. Magnesium regulates blood sugar levels; the daily consumption of 100 mg of magnesium reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes by at least 15 percent.

Other Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet

The benefits of a plant-based diet are not limited to the three items discussed above. Other benefits are a more robust immune system, easier management of healthy weight, cancer prevention, and more.

Choose the Best Plant-Based Options

A plant-based diet can still cause you to fall into common dietary pitfalls such as consuming too much salt, sugar, and fat. The way you prepare your plant-based meals affects their nutritional value. Stick to healthy cooking methods – no deep frying or too much salt – and avoid processed plant-based products.

Lastly, choose whole grains over regular pasta, white bread, or white rice. Whole grains contain less sugar and more fibers; they uphold what a plant-based diet should do for your health. Choose plants that are as whole and less processed as possible to get the most nutritional value out of your plant-based diet.

Are you struggling to get started on this new plant-based diet? Check out Veggie Lisa’s recipe club. The recipes will help you find ways to prepare a plant-based meal and get the most out of your veggies. For any inquiries on becoming healthier naturally, contact Veggie Lisa at lisa@veggielisa.com.

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