A Whole Foods Plant Based (WFPB) Diet is one that emphasizes whole, minimally processed foods and limits or excludes animal products, resulting in a diet that is mainly made up of plants, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, seeds and nuts. Fast food and highly processed foods are avoided. There have been numerous studies showing the health benefits that are derived from eating this way.
Heart Health – A study presented by the American Heart Association in November 2017 concluded that people who ate a plant based diet most of the time had a 42% decreased risk of developing heart failure. According to Dr. Kyla Lara, “Eating a diet mostly of dark green leafy plants, fruits, beans, whole grains and fish, while limiting processed meats, saturated fats, trans fats, refined carbohydrates and foods high in added sugars is a heart-healthy lifestyle and may specifically help prevent heart failure if you don’t already have it”. The overall risk of developing heart disease is significantly lower than for those not on a plant based diet.
Weight Loss – Eating a WFPB diet means that you are increasing your fiber intake with foods that keep you full longer and cutting down on processed foods and junk food, making it easier to lose weight and keep it off. Instead of “dieting” and just cutting out certain foods, you are changing your lifestyle and focuing on incorporating beneficial foods into your meals.
Reducing Cancer Risk – in addition to being high in fiber, plant based whole foods are rich in vitamins and minerals as well as disease-fighting phytochemicals. You also reduce your intake of saturated fats such as those in processed and fast foods as well as meats. Studies of large numbers of vegetarians have shown significantly reduced rates of gastrointestinal and colorectal cancers.
Protecting Against Alzheimer’s and Cognitive Decline – Even if you are not cutting out all meats, studies show that a WFPB or Mediterranean style diet based on produce, legumes, whole grains and healthy oils with small amounts of fish and meats results in better brain health. The increase in vegetables and fruits also provides an increase in brain protecting antioxidants.
Avoiding Diabetes – Whole plant based foods, as opposed to processed and junk foods, play a large role in controlling blood sugar, shedding excess pounds and avoiding insuling resistance. Insulin resistance often leads to prediabetes and diabetes because the body is less able to handle sugar in the blood ane produces too much insulin. Studies show that your risk of developing diabetes is 34% lower than someone whose diet is rich in animal products and/or processed foods
Whether you choose to be a vegan, vegetarian or flexitarian (keeping animal products to a minimum), you can begin to reap the benefits of a whole foods plant based diet immediately.