For optimal health, science supports a low-fat, plant-based lifestyle. This type of eating is not only nutritionally adequate and healthy but it can also provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of many chronic diseases.
Some of the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle is that people who consume only these foods, have lower cholesterol levels (since cholesterol is found only in animal products), have lower blood pressure than nonvegetarians, it can lower symptoms of type II diabetes, and even prevent common cancers. Plant-based diets are lower in fat and higher in fiber, and most of the foods contain phytochemicals which are cancer-fighting substances.
One of the most challenging things to do in our lives is change the way we eat. It’s part of who we are. We were brought up to believe that we eat particular foods for one single nutrient. Eat meat for protein, drink milk for calcium, eat fish for omega-3’s. No food is a single nutrient and we need to let go of this way of thinking.
Even people who start to eat plant-based diets worry about how much protein they are getting with beans or greens, or which green vegetable will offer up the most calcium or which nut has the best type of fat and how much. We need to let go of this reductionist way of thinking. What matters the most is the overall nutrient value of the food. What vitamins and minerals does it contains? What about the phytonutrients?
When we think about an orange, it’s known for its vitamin C content. Most people obtain their vitamin C content from oranges. However, what about all the other goodness this popular fruit provides us? It also contains potassium, calcium, and various phytonutrients. You are getting more than you expected from a fruit that is only advertised as having vitamin C. This is what eating plant-based is all about. You can’t get these other beneficial vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients from animal products, processed foods, and yes, supplements. You can’t mimic a whole food with a pill. There are still trace vitamins and minerals that still need to be discovered from many foods. A pill, an animal product, or processed food is inferior to the real thing, the WHOLE FOOD!
When eating plant-based, if you want to maximize optimal nutrients and minerals, eat from the rainbow. Consume as many different colours you can at each meal. This way, you are including everything your body needs. This is why today, I decided to make this power salad. It’s not your typical ‘green salad’.
- I start my layer with mixed greens (spinach, swiss chard, baby kale) and,
- then add in some chickpeas and whole wheat couscous to add some calories and,
- then add in some vegetables such as red/yellow/orange peppers, cucumber, red onion, cherry tomatoes, and,
- top it off with some pumpkin seeds and pistachios, you can also add some dried fruit such as cranberries or raisins or even some blueberries or sliced strawberries.
My next meal, I will change up the type of beans, type of grain, and type of vegetable so I’m consuming a variety of different foods that will provide my body with various nutrients, minerals, and phytonutrients. It’s all about balance on your plate. Some vegetables, some grains, some legumes, some fruit, some nuts and seeds. You don’t need this at every meal but throughout the day try and consume a variety, especially fruits and vegetables. Open yourself up to try a new fruit and vegetable and experience new flavours.
If you eat a variety of different foods, you will never have to question how much protein, carbs, and fat is in your meal. Let go of the numbers and embrace a new way of eating and thinking. Your body will thank you for it.
Eat Well – Move Well – Live Well
Your Compassionate Coach,