A diet high in vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and whole grains has several benefits when it is nutrient dense, which means that processing is kept to a minimum.
Conversely, a diet that is “meat-free” doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s healthy. Benefits can be negated when the diet isn’t paired with an otherwise healthy lifestyle which includes regular exercise, adequate sleep, avoids processed and “fast” food, and enjoys social and emotional supports from family and friends.
Likewise, a diet containing meat isn’t always unhealthy. For example, a salad isn’t enough if your lifestyle is sedentary, you eat a lot of hugh-fat junk food, or smoke cigarettes. Consuming an adequate number of calories and eating a variety of healthful food is just as important.
That said, consider these 8 health benefits from a plant-based diet.
1. Better Mood
Research shows information suggesting that vegetarians may be happier than their meat-eating counterparts. It was found that non-meat eaters had a lower chance of depression and were happier overall compared to the meat-eaters.
2. Disease Fighting
Plant based diets tend to be naturally lower in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol, and have been shown to reduce heart disease risk. Epidemiologic data has shown that vegetarians suffer less disease caused by the standard American diet, ( e.g. coronary heart disease, hypertension, obesity, type 2 diabetes, diet-related cancers, diverticulitis, constipation, and gallstones, among several others. This can be attributed to a higher intake in fiber, phytonutrients, antioxidants, flavonoids, and carotenoids. Also vegetarians tend to have better vision and less occurrence of macular degeneration.
3. Lean Body
People on a plant-based diet typically weigh less than carnivores who tend to eat far fewer calories in the form of whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables.
4. Less Toxicity
Foodborne illnesses, antibiotics, bacteria, parasites, and chemical toxins are more common in commercial meat, poultry, and seafood when compared with plant foods, particularly organic fruits and vegetables.
5. Caring for the Environment
A plant-based diet is better for the planet as it requires significantly less energy and farmland to feed a vegetarian. There are also ethical issues supporting animal rights when choosing a vegetarian diet.
Plant foods tend to be less expensive, except, perhaps, for a few delicacies. This means a savings on overall food costs.
7. Better Athletic Performance
While most active people focus on protein intake, a high-carbohydrate, low-fat, and vitamin and mineral-rich vegetarian food plan may be optimal for sports performance. Indeed, there are conflicting studies. Still, the number of world-class vegetarian athletes continues to rise.
Vegetarians have been found to enjoy longer and healthier lives when compared to meat-eaters.
The Bottom Line
Eat more fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, process them less (including cooking), and eat fewer animal products.