21 Jan Plant-based diets: what long-term benefits do they offer?
Vegetarian, vegan and hybrid diets are more popular than ever, with people around the world embracing plant-based eating on a large scale.
Consuming plant-based foods is a healthy lifestyle choice that also happens to be good for the planet. With cattle and other livestock rearing contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, a green diet is just as important as green energy and driving a hybrid.
There are so many reasons to choose a plant-based diet, but one key question remains: is it really as healthy as people claim?
Here are some reasons why eating a plant-based diet could be the best health decision you’ll make.
Heart health, cancer prevention, and more
Plant-based diets have always enjoyed the support of anecdotal evidence – like our mothers always told us to eat our vegetables. Now, a large study conducted in Japan has provided solid scientific evidence for the beneficial effect that less meat and more greens could have on our long term health.
71 000 Japanese adults were followed for two decades, with their dietary choices and health being monitored on a regular basis.
Of the study group, those who ate the least meat and the most plant protein reported the best longevity and overall health on average. Their risk of dying from cardiovascular disease was also lower than those who ate more meat and dairy products.
The size and duration of this study provides excellent evidence for the health benefits of eating a totally or largely plant-based diet and reducing our intake of red meat.
Balancing proteins for optimal vegan health
While there are many great aspects to a vegan or vegetarian diet, one of the drawbacks of this way of eating has to do with protein intake. While meat, eggs and dairy contain complete proteins (with all the essential amino acids present), plant proteins tend to be incomplete – the exception being soy.
Since each type of plant protein contains only some of the necessary amino acids, it’s essential for vegans to combine them effectively to ensure that they’re getting optimal nutrition from your diet.
- As a general rule, the amino acids in grains and legumes compliment each other.
- Mixing these two food types should give you the amino acids you need for good health.
Foods like beans and rice, pasta and peas or lentils, and staples like organic nut butters and wholewheat bread are good examples of complementary plant proteins.
Hummus, which contains chickpeas and tahini, is also an excellent source of plant protein.
Plant-based burgers, which we discussed in a previous blog post, are an exciting new product that provide healthy protein with the authentic taste of meat – perfect for newcomers to plant-based eating.
Natural supplements: filling the protein gap
To ensure that a plant-based diet is providing all the necessary vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that the body needs, many vegans opt to take natural supplements on a regular basis.
From protein supplements to iron and vitamin b12 (which is only found in meat and dairy), the range of natural supplements on the market provides all the essential ingredients for good health.
If you’re a supplement or plant protein manufacturer or supplier and would like to learn more about opportunities in the plant-based food industry, contact us today.