7 Reasons To Go On A Plant-Based Diet

Vegetable Meal

Photo: Flickr/JulieFacine

Why would I give up meat? Going plant-based doesn’t necessarily mean you have to.Our definition of a plant-based diet allows for modest amounts of fish and lean meat. But more importantly, choosing a diet heavy in fruits and veggies may help ward off chronic diseases and keep you svelte in 2013 and in years to come. U.S. News has gathered a few reasons to go the plant-based route.

Diabetes prevention

Roughly 370 million people are living with diabetes, and according to the International Diabetes Federation, that number is expected to soar upwards of 550 million by 2030.

Type 2 diabetes is entirely preventable, and plenty of research suggests a plant-based diet can help ward off the disease.

Hypertension control

Lots of research, including some from the Harvard School of Public Health, suggests a diet loaded with fruits and veggies can lower blood pressure.

About 1 in 3 American adults suffers from high blood pressure, meaning they're at higher risk for heart disease and stroke--two leading causes of death in the United States.

Heart health

Harvard researchers tracked the health habits of about 110,000 people for 14 years, and found that the higher folks' intakes of fruits and vegetables, the lower their chances of developing cardiovascular disease.

Specifically, people who averaged eight-plus servings of fruits and veggies a day were 30 per cent less likely to have a heart attack or stroke, compared to those who had less than 1.5 daily servings.

Weight loss

There's plenty of research suggesting that vegetarians tend to consume fewer calories, and thus weigh less and have lower body mass indexes than non-vegetarians.

While following a plant-based diet doesn't necessarily mean going full-blown vegetarian, opting largely for fruits, veggies, and whole grains in lieu of meat will likely leave you feeling fuller on fewer calories.

fibre intake

fibre keeps you 'regular' by aiding in digestion and preventing constipation. Plus, it may also lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

Following a plant-based diet means chowing down on loads of fruits and veggies, which are packed with fibre. Just one cup of raspberries or cooked green peas amounts to eight ounces of fibre or more, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Vision value

As you may know, the Vitamin A in carrots aids night vision.

Your eyes might also thank you for a plant-based diet rich in spinach, kale, corn, squash, kiwi, and grapes. The lutein and zeaxanthin pigments in these foods are thought to help prevent cataract and macular degeneration.

Skin care

Cutting back on animal products also means skipping much of their saturated fats, which are notorious for clogging pores.Plus, many of the vitamins, pigments, and phytochemicals in fruits and veggies contribute to healthy skin.

The lycopene in tomatoes, for example, helps protect your skin from sun damage, and the Vitamin C in sweet potatoes smooths wrinkles by stimulating the production of collagen.

What's next?

Think you might want to give a plant-based diet a try? Check out these links:

Top 5 Plant-Based Diets

Best Plant-Based Diets

Plant-Based Diets: A Primer

Many vegetables naturally reduce stress.

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