What Are the Health Benefits of a Plant Based Diet?
There has been a resurgence of interest in a plant-based diet and its health benefits. However, there is still confusion over what a healthy vegan diet is.
There is significant evidence to support a Complete Plant-Based Diet (WFPBD) as the optimal diet for our health. Here I define a WFPBD and explore its many health benefits.
What is a whole plant diet?
A complete plant-based diet is a diet devoid of all animal products, including dairy products, fish, and eggs.
Omitting animal products makes it vegan, however, there are some foods that can be vegan, but are not considered whole foods.
“Whole foods” are those that are natural, minimally processed, and free from added sugar, salt and other artificial substances.
The main food groups of a WFPBD are whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.
Highly processed foods such as white flour, white rice, vegan margarines, most vegan cheeses, high fructose corn syrup, and prepackaged snacks and meals are not classified as whole foods because they have been considerably altered from their natural state.
These high calorie foods offer little in terms of nutrition and are generally avoided by those taking a WFPBD. Minimally processed foods, however, have their place in a WFPBD.
Minimal processing methods (such as crushing, dusting, freezing, vacuum packaging) aim to modify foods to increase shelf life while maintaining nutritional quality and freshness.
Examples include canned foods (no sodium or added sugar), frozen fruits and vegetables, and dried herbs and spices.