The benefits of a plant-based diet have been discussed extensively and are advocated by every nutritionist and health expert, with claims it can reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease and lead to a long, healthy life.
You’ve heard it all before and you don’t need us to tell you that a plant-based diet can improve your bowel habits, increase your energy levels, and improve your lifespan. However, while many people know how beneficial a plant-based diet can be, they don’t always understand why.
The truth is, there are many reasons why a plant-based diet is so good for you and when you read all these in the same content, it’s plain to see just why it can have such a transformative effect on your health.
It has been estimated that as many as 97% of Americans don’t consume enough fiber.(1) That’s a staggering statistic, but it gets worse.
The biggest killer in the United States is heart disease. According to the CDC. it accounts for nearly 650,000 deaths every single year.(2) The second biggest killer is cancer, with colon cancer being one of the biggest contributors to the 600,000 or so annual deaths from this disease.
Both of these diseases have been closely linked with inadequate fiber consumption. We know that people who consume the recommend amount of fiber each day are less likely to suffer from issues related to the gut and the heart and they are also considerably less likely to get colon cancer and several other forms of cancer.
This is one of the most obvious but most important benefits of a plant-based diet. Of course, eating too much fiber can have some negative consequence as well, including gas and bloating, but the dangers of eating too little are much worse.
You don’t need to eat fruits and vegetables to meet your daily requirements. However, they are by far the easiest way to hit those goals and Americans who rely on processed foods are often deficient in key nutrients.
An analysis conducted in 2017 found that close to a third of Americans were at risk of developing at least 1 vitamin deficiency, with as many as 23% at risk of developing multiple deficiencies.(3) Of course, simply eating fruits and vegetables won’t negate this risk entirely. There are other factors involved with deficiencies (including diseases that inhibit absorption) and it’s also important to strike the right balance, but the aforementioned study found that people who ate a plant-based diet were significantly less likely to have any vitamin deficiencies.
This is important, as vitamins and minerals are essential for hundreds of different bodily processes. They ensure your muscles, organs, and blood perform as they should; they keep your bones strong and your skin supple.
Nitrates are compounds found in most plant-based foods. These naturally-occurring substances can help to relax the blood vessels, allowing for smoother blood flow and faster nutrient absorption.
Studies have shown that athletes who consume nitrates can run for longer and train harder and there have also been studies suggesting that regular nitrate consumption can reduce the risk of strokes and heart disease.(4)
Nitrates are only healthy when consumed in their natural form and can be found in varying concentrations, with beets and arugula containing some of the highest concentrations.
Antioxidants include phytochemicals like Polyphenols—naturally occurring substances that can fight oxidative stress in the body. Oxidative stress is a leading contributor to disease and is thought to be responsible for everything from cancer to heart disease. This damage occurs all the time and can be triggered by everything from age and environmental factors (stress, activity) to smoke, alcohol, and processed food.
Antioxidants work by counteracting the damage that oxidative stress causes. They fight and eradicate the compounds that cause this stress and keep the body functioning at an optimal level. If you eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, you’ll receive a steady boost of these compounds and as a result your body will be prepared to deal with whatever damage is caused.
A diet rich in whole foods is a diet low in processed foods. Not only can this provide all of the benefits discussed herein, but it also negates many of the issues that stem from eating processed foods.
These foods are made using cheap ingredients. They are often cooked, reheated and frozen/dried multiple times and this strips all the goodness out of them, leaving little more than an unhealthy husk. To return some flavor to the food, manufacturers add sugar, salt and fat, which essentially means they take away the good and replace it with bad.
Overconsumption of these foods is why people in North America and Western Europe have higher rates of heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, and other issues when compared to other cultures.
Finally, one of the big benefits of consuming a plant-based diet is that you won’t be forcing chemical additives down your throat. In addition to the salt, sugar, and fat that manufacturers load into their foods to improve the taste, they also add chemicals to change the color and improve shelf-life.
The jury is still out on whether these chemical additives are dangerous or not and everything has to pass through the FDA before it can appear in our food. However, The FDA has historically been very lax when it comes to food regulation. In the past they have approved many additives that have been banned across Europe and have been linked to all kinds of nasty side effects.
This is true for frozen food, fast food, and even fresh food. Across Europe, McDonalds fries are made using just three ingredients: Potatoes, Oil, and Dextrose. In the US, there are 14 ingredients in total, including a few that will make you think twice that late-night fast food feast.
Now you know why a plant-based it is so healthy, it’s time to make some changes and incorporate some more fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet! If you struggle to do this, as so many people do, then there is an easier and cheaper alternative: Healthy Skoop Daily Greens.
This is a powdered plant-based superfood concoction that brings together a host of healthy vegetables and makes it easier to consume them every single day. One serving is all it takes for you to get your daily dose of plant-based superfoods.