Want to know one of the easiest ways to improve your health? Eat more plants!
There’s a lot of conflicting advice about the best way to eat, but one thing that almost everyone agrees on is that eating more plants is good for you.
But how many different types of fruits and vegetables should you be eating each week? And what if you find it really tricky to find creative ways to include more plants in your diet? The good news is that increasing the variety and amount of plants in your diet doesn’t have to be difficult, especially once you expand your idea of what counts as a plant-based food to include spices, herbs, nuts and seeds.
Read on for our top 10 tips for getting more plants into your diet.
You don’t have to go vegan to eat more plants
You don’t need to be a vegan to follow a plant-based diet. In fact, the term ‘plant-based’ can be used to refer to a wide variety of dietary patterns which all have one thing in common: they’re centered around plants. And we don’t just mean fruit and veg. Nuts, seeds, pulses, grains, herbs and spices all come from plants too (as do tea and coffee!). There’s plenty of room for variety based on personal preferences, budget and access, but a typical plant-based diet should include a diverse range of these foods, either with the addition of small amounts of animal products or none at all.
But what makes plants so special?
Plant foods are an abundant source of beneficial nutrients including vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and protein. They’re also rich in polyphenols, which are biologically active molecules that feed our gut bacteria (microbiome) and benefit our health in many other ways. Although it is difficult to determine cause and effect when it comes to food and disease, what we do know is that people who eat more plants in their diet tend to have lower overall risk of diseases, including high blood pressure (hypertension), type 2 diabetes, and a consistently lower risk of death due to heart disease, compared to those who eat a typical Western diet high in refined carbohydrates, sugar and processed foods.