The new year brings new enthusiasm to eat a healthier diet. Low carb? High protein? Paleo? Ketogenic? What’s the latest advice? Plants! Here are the top three reasons to explore a diet that replaces animal products with plants, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
1. You’ll live longer.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “Adults who eat a more plant-based diet may be boosting their chance of living longer. Research has shown that the foods you eat influence your health. Eating certain foods, such as fruits and nuts, has been associated with reduced death rates, while other foods, such as red and processed meats, have been linked to increased mortality.” One six-year Loma Linda University study discovered that vegetarians were 12 percent less likely to die from all causes, compared to non-vegetarians, “due to a lower rate of death from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and kidney disorders.”
2. You’ll save money.
Meatless meals built around beans, lentils, whole grains, and vegetables can be more budget-friendly than meals rich in red meat. On the national average, a pound of dried black beans costs $1.37, while a pound of ground hamburger costs $3.77. Buying local, in-season produce is economical, too.
3. You may lose weight.
Many plant foods are low calorie. One cup of fresh spinach has just seven calories; one cup of fresh broccoli has 30. In contrast, one cup of meat lasagna can contain more than 400 calories. However, vegetarian diets that rely on less nutritious non-meat foods, such as processed sweets, low-fiber pastas, and high-calorie cereals, are less beneficial than those promoting leafy green vegetables, which pack in more nutrients with very few calories. Plant fiber helps people feel fuller longer, which may reduce the desire to snack on unhealthy foods, and consume fewer calories to lose weight.