Countless research has been carried out regarding the benefits of a plant-based diet. Not only is it good for the environment, but it is excellent for our overall wellbeing. Now, I am no vegan, but I am passionate about adding as many plants and as much colour to ones diet; so I thought I would share with you my knowledge of health benefits that go along with this way of living, and why it is so important to follow such a nutritious diet. This is not me encouraging a strict plant based diet but simply advising individuals to add more plants to their meals!
I know that a lot of individuals find the word ‘vegan’ rather extreme, so I always like to use the word ‘plant-based’. The issue a lot of people seem to have with a diet like this, is the amount or ‘lack of’ protein they perceive to be associated with this lifestyle choice. The obvious protein sources are usually animal based proteins like meat and dairy products. However, for individuals who have chosen a plant based lifestyle, there types of proteins are off the cards. So for a healthier alternative- I have listed some of my favourite sources of plant-based foods that can be combined to give equal amounts of protein….
Proteins are vital for both the structure and metabolic operations of the human body.
Functions of proteins:
- Transportation of cells
- Hormonal function and regulation of metabolism
- Immune function
- Buffering function
So what are some delicious plant based proteins?
Quinoa- 1 cup contains more than 8 grams of protein and includes all nine of the essential amino acids that our body needs for growth and repair. Quinoa is great of either lunch or dinner, and is flavoursome mixed with different herbs or spices and vegetables.
Beans- Black, white, soy, kidney beans etc. all contain high amounts of protein. 2 cups of kidney beans will provide us with around 26 grams of protein. I regularly have kidney beans with my dinner- mixing them with lentils and plenty of veg.
Nuts and nut butter (such as peanut butter)- Nuts, I would go as far as saying, are an essential part of a plant-based diet. They are excellent sources of protein, and contain healthy fats. Make sure you choose raw nuts (not salted) and choose nut butters that have no added sugar or hydrogenated oils. I LOVE peanut paired with apple, or just snacking on a handful of raw almonds.
Soya milk- can contain up to 8 grams of protein per cup and is ideal to use with cereals, add to smoothies or simply drink on its own.
Green peas- legumes are great sources of plant based proteins. Green peas provide 8 grams of protein per 1 cup.
A lot of people think if you cut out meat- then what do you eat? But how wrong they are! There are so many other delicious foods that include proteins that provide far more nutritional value than a piece of steak. One of my favourite dinners to whip up in the evening is a mixture of wholegrains, lentils, kidney beans and a load of mixed veg! You’ve got various proteins, fibre, vitamins and minerals and a very low acidity level! By mixing up different plant proteins, you are providing yourself with an excellent variety of amino acids that also contain many other health benefits such as fibre, and various antioxidants.
This type of diet, naturally tends to be packed with plenty of fruit and veg… which is great! Fruits and vegetables contain countless antioxidants which are so important for our health. They aid in flushing out bad toxins from the body and attacking ‘free radicals‘ that can contribute to risk of diseases, including certain cancers. Antioxidants are also essential for ‘younger looking’ skin. Free radicals can attack cells and decrease the elasticity of your skin, causing your skin to age more quickly. Antioxidants will prevent this from happening.
Lastly, it is a lot easier (and healthier) to enjoy sweet treats, when you are following a plant based diet. I say easier, because they typically won’t contain as much saturated fat. For healthy sweet treat recipes- check out my recipes page. All recipes that I develop will have nutritional benefit, and taste delicious 🙂