More and more information is coming forth regarding the health benefits of the Plant-Base Diet. I can remember about three years ago when one of my co-workers started the diet due to his diabetes, my fellow Dietitians and I were a bit skeptical. However, Studies are showing that the Plant-based patterns are making improvements in overall health by decreasing the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, weight maintenance, and overall mortality.
The diet has vast similarities with the Mediterranean style diet. As you all know I am a big advocate for the Mediterranean-style of eating which continues to hold its #1 rating among the healthiest diet. As I Evaluate the concept of the Plant-Base eating pattern, it is made up of the same principle foundations as the Mediterranean which are “Plants.” In comparison, a Plant base eating pattern is the same as with the Mediterranean with a slight modification both consisting primarily of foods derived from vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, seeds, legumes with a small number of animal products and fish. The Mediterranean diet differs by adding poultry, eggs, cheese, yogurt a few times a week with meat and sweets less often. Plant-based eating is not vegetarian or vegan diets as some may speculate due to the inclusion of meat products and fish in small quantities.
Many of the health benefits of the two diet come from the increased consumption of vegetables and fruits which provide phytochemicals; they are compounds found in plants and fruit that provide beautiful bright colors. These compounds protect against health-related complication and provide antioxidant to protect against inflammation. For example, the Mediterranean Diet has been shown in various studies and clinical trials to reduce heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, certain cancers (especially colon, breast, and prostate) due to the phytochemical content.
Bottom line, research studies supporting the benefits of consuming a diet where plants are the base and meats especially “red meat” is limited. Studies show that the high consumption of meat is a health risk and not recommended or necessary to maintain health. A recent European survey of more than 450,000 adults, validates those who followed a plant-based diet that consisted of 70 percent plants had a 20 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease or stroke than those whose diets centered on meat and dairy. An interesting Harvard study followed the dietary trends of people for 30 years provided evidence that those who ate large quantities of red meat had the highest propensity of dying younger during the study period but by exchanging just one daily serving of beef for nuts could cut the risk of dying early by as much as 19%.
My take on the Plant Base Diet-due to the fact that our diets significantly impacts our health and well-being it is most advantageous. Evidence presented shows diets designed around plants that limit meats are associated with a lower incidence of chronic diseases and promote health. It does not matter if you choose to follow a Mediterranean, Flexitarian, Vegetarian, or Vegan; diets that are primarily supported by “plants” are beneficial. Choose one/Choose wisely.