Whether we like it or not, most of the food we eat is anything other than natural. We’re all victims of processed foods that are filled with many additives and preservatives. Not to mention the unhealthy foods like fries and cheese that many people opt for. We can, therefore, not ignore the impact that these foods have on our health. Today, many people are suffering from obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions influenced by diet. So, what can we do to reduce our risks to these diseases? Well, you can start by eating more fruits and vegetables, and be on your way to a lifestyle of eating healthy. Here are the top reasons Why You Should Include More Plants in Your Diet.
What Are the Top Reasons to Include More Plants in Your Diet?
- Maintaining Good Health– as they’re low in salt, sugar, and fat, these foods can help prevent weight gain and help you lose weight. Additionally, adding them to your diet can reduce inflammation while lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Are Filled with Many Vitamins and Minerals– you’ll not find other better sources of these nutrients apart from fruits and vegetables. These plants carry high amounts of vitamin A, C, and E and minerals like zinc, magnesium, phosphorous, and folic acid.
- Low Levels of Sodium and Cholesterol– these foods have limited amounts of sodium. Even celery, which’s thought of being high in sodium, contains only 30 mg in one stalk. Plus, cholesterol isn’t in fruits and vegetables.
- Give You a Variety of Flavors and Tastes- you can get creative in the kitchen with these plant-based foods. If you love intense flavors, onions, olives, and peppers are your best bet, while those who want milder options can try corn and mushroom. You can also get both sweet and sour tastes from fruits like plums, pineapples, lemons, and grapefruits.
- Various Options– you can eat them fresh, dried, canned, or frozen without worrying about the nutritional level. When they’re frozen, it quickly locks their nutritional value as they’re processed and canned within a short time of harvest.
- Great Sources of Fiber– your gut health will appreciate more fruits and vegetables. Veggies and fruits like green peas, broccoli, cauliflower, apples, pumpkin, and peas are excellent fiber sources.
- Easy and Convenient– you don’t need packaging with many fruits and vegetables. You can easily grab and eat an apple while on the road.
- Low Calories and Fat– if you worry about your weight, eating healthy by adding more fruits and vegetables can be your best bet. They’ll keep you full and protect you from unwanted weight gain. However, some like avocadoes and coconuts contain high levels of healthy fats. Therefore, don’t eat much of them if your goal is to lose weight.
- Can Be Consumed in Different Ways– if you’re not comfortable eating the fruit as it is, you can make smoothies. This allows you to blend different fruits and vegetables hence make a more nutritious drink.
- Protect You from Diseases– these foods have phytochemicals that are active substances that help protect us from certain diseases. Eating them can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, and stroke. Cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, watercress, and collards lessen a person’s risk of cancer.
Why Shift to a Plant-Based Diet?
Your immunity, especially in these times, isn’t something to gamble with. A plant-based diet contains essential nutrients that can’t be found in other foods. They have high amounts of vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. As such, your cells will be healthy, allowing your immune system to function at its best. Therefore, your body can effectively fight infections since your immunity is strengthened to protect you from germs and microorganisms.
When your immune system is healthy, it can reduce your risk of cancer by recognizing and attacking mutation in cells before they progress to become cancerous. A plant-based diet also reduces inflammation. The antioxidants and phytochemicals in these foods help neutralize toxins from viruses, bacteria, processed foods, and pollution. Note that inflammation in cells and tissues can cause cancer and other diseases if left untreated. Therefore, eating a plant-based diet can be your best bet to fight it.
Furthermore, this diet helps in maintaining a healthy weight. Obese and overweight puts you at a risk of cancer and other diseases. Excess weight leads to hormonal imbalance and inflammation. If your diet mainly consists of plants, you can minimize eating healthy foods that contribute to weight gain. Combine that with regular exercising, and you’re on your way to leading a healthy lifestyle.
What Fruits and Vegetables Should I Eat?
All fruits and vegetables are essential to the body. It’s, therefore, wise that you eat various fruits and veggies to get the vital nutrients you need. The American Heart Association advises people to fill at least half a plate with these foods to meet the recommended intake of 41/2 cups a day. Thankfully, you can eat fresh, canned, or frozen varieties as they all count. However, make sure that you’ve compared food labels when buying canned, frozen, or dried products. Also, opt for those that have low amounts of sodium and added sugar.
For breakfast, you can eat a grapefruit, melon, or any other fruit. One can also choose to add raisins, bananas, or berries to their cereals. Alternatively, you can make fruit and vegetable juice without added sugar or sodium. Also, you can add freshly chopped veggies like onions, spinach, red peppers, etc., to your potatoes or eggs.
During lunchtime, you can have a vegetable or fruit salad. Or one can put veggies like cucumber, lettuce, or tomatoes in their sandwich. Individuals can also try drinking vegetable soup, but you should only pick products with low amounts of sodium if you can’t make your soup from scratch. Additionally, instead of chips, opt for raw vegetable sticks or fruits.
At dinner, a fruit or vegetable salad is a tasty option. You can also eat microwave, steamed, or frozen vegetables or baked sweet potatoes or yams. Again, individuals can add chopped vegetables like garlic or onions when preparing soups, beans, spaghetti sauce, or rice.
How to Consume More Plant-Based Foods?
As we’ve already mentioned, all fruits and veggies have essential nutrients and vitamins that help fight diseases like cancer. The secret to enjoying these nutrients is to eat different colors. The Eat More Color Infographic lists the five primary colors and examples that you should check out. That said, here are some strategies to help you eat more plants.
- Eat more beans– white beans dip, boiled edamame, and roasted chickpeas are all delicious snacks that should replace your usual high-calorie and sugar snacks. Beans are high in fiber and have energizing minerals like magnesium and iron.
- Include more vegetables in your dishes– if you’ve been cooking your stir-fried rice with a single cup of broccoli, make it two. You can also complete more roasted carrots. 50% of your recipe and 50% of the food on your plate should be veggies.
- Consider a fruit as your dessert– rather than cheesecakes, eat baked apples with cinnamon or poach pears in red wine. Fruit should be the main meal. However, you can make it tastier.
- Include whole grains and seeds in your salads– if a salad cannot fill you up, consider adding an energizing ingredient. Add a ½ a cup of cooked whole grains like barley, brown rice, or wheat berries for extra minerals and fiber to your salads.
- Replace processed grains with vegetables– instead of sandwiches, eat collard leaves. Rather than eating flour tortillas, replace them with lettuce and opt for noodles that have been cut from zucchini rather than white pasta.
Additionally, you should also ensure that your plant-based diet is healthy. Therefore, practice healthy cooking and figure out how to make your vegetables to enjoy their benefits. Do not deep fry your vegetables. Also, make sure that you avoid taking sugary desserts and that you consume whole grains. Therefore, things like white rice, white bread, and regular pasta should stay out of your mouth instead, eat brown rice, 100% whole pasta, and brown bread.
More Ideas on How to Incorporate More Fruits and Veggies into Your Diet
Prepare meals in bulk and store them in your freezer- with already cooked plant-based meals, it’ll be easier to grab them over another unhealthy alternative. Frozen meals are an excellent option for busy people.
Eat a vegetable appetizer or green salad before dinner- this will increase your veggie intake. Plus, as you’ll be almost complete, you’ll eat less of other foods. You can make a salad of green chopped vegetables like an avocado kale salad. Or a vegetable appetizer like raw veggies with a fun ranch best for a vegan.
Eat plant-based versions of your favorite meals- you can still enjoy your favorite meals even on a plant-based diet. There are vegan diet versions of almost all dishes. You can search on Google for ideas.
Add greens to your soup or sauce– spinach, kales, and other greens are packed with many nutrients. Therefore, you can consider adding them to soups, stir-fries, and spaghetti sources.
Look for a plant-based version of your go-to foods– there’s a plant-based version of pretty much everything nowadays. These include vegetable burgers, dairy-free mayo, etc.
Opt for vegetable noodles instead of regular pasta– we aren’t saying that you completely replace your pasta with vegetable noodles. However, you can add them when serving your usual pasta for extra fiber. Try sweet potatoes, zucchini, or carrots.
Include cashews in your sauces, soups, dressing, and dip recipes– their creaminess helps them create better soups and sauces.
Always have ready-to-eat fruits and vegetables– this will save you from eating unhealthy snacks when the craving starts. Have chopped apples, oranges, carrots, and cucumbers in your fridge to help you eat more plants.
Buy fresh products- fruits and vegetables are easy to eat when fresh. Therefore, switch to shopping at your local farmer’s market.
Substitute eggs with flax or applesauce and opt for non-dairy products when baking– instead of cow milk, use coconut milk instead of using eggs, consider a plant-based alternative.
Snack on fruits and nuts- when you feel like snacking, make sure that you’re armed with either of these two. Bananas, oranges, and grapes are excellent snacks to grab on the go. Plus, nuts are easy to carry and a healthy option.
Add healthy fats to your veggies to motivate you to eat- dry veggies may be discouraging for some. Therefore, adding healthy fats like avocadoes to your salad dressing or tahini to roasted veggies can spice things up.
Replace the meat in your burgers with mushrooms or beans– these two have a meaty texture. Thus, you’ll not only be satisfied, but you’ll also consume more plant-based protein from your burger. Start by replacing some of the meat with these healthy alternatives and work your way to replace all.
Add zucchini into your baked goods or oatmeal– want to increase more fiber and your vegetable intake? This is the way to go.
Make smoothies by blending fresh fruits and vegetables– stock up on bananas, spinach, mango, cauliflower, and everything else you want to blend. You can try mixing different things to see what works for you.
Eating healthy plants doesn’t just benefit us. It also helps our planet. Note that fruits, vegetables, and grains don’t need much energy to grow. Plus, they release less waste compared to animals. Today, the world is suffering from environmental pollutants. But habits like opting for a plant-based protein diet can help bring changes to the climate crisis.
How Does a Plant-Based Diet Benefit Our Mental Health?
Improved cognition and focus. According to research, eating a plant-based diet can help prevent cognitive decline as one grows older. One study proved that those who ate more fruits and vegetables had an 18-33% decline of developing cognitive impairment than individuals who did not. If you also want to be more productive in the workplace, experts encourage you to eat plant-based foods.
Relieves Stress and Anxiety. Animal products like chicken and eggs have arachidonic acid that promotes various chemical reactions in the body, which cause inflammation. Upon reaching the brain, the inflammation can trigger feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. Avoiding foods with this acid is said to improve a person’s mood and mental health. One study concluded that those who were on a vegan diet reported less stress and anxiety than non-vegans.
Manage ADHD. Diet alone will not cure this disease. But there’s some evidence suggesting that eating healthy can help reduce its symptoms. Studies claim that a vegan diet helps relieve symptoms among those with ADHD.
Fights Depression. A plant-based diet can elevate your mood hence leading to decreased symptoms of depression. In a study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, individuals who ate whole foods complained less about depression than those who ate processed meals.
It Betters the Brain’s Health- our cognitive function reduces as we age. Thankfully, a diet based on plants can help reduce your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, the health of the brain also depends on other bodily functions. Since a plant-based diet reduces inflammation and strengthens your immunity, it can protect your brain from future issues.
Things to Note about a Plant-Based Diet
Sure, eating fruits and vegetables is a healthy lifestyle choice. But it would help if you didn’t forget to eat balanced and complete meals. Therefore, even on a plant-based diet, there are some areas that you should focus on to ensure that you’re getting all the health benefits.
Make sure that you are getting enough nutrients. You can easily experience nutritional deficiency on this diet if you don’t do it correctly. A deficiency in nutrients found in animal products like vitamin B-12 and amino acids is said to cause depression, poor metabolism, reduced energy, and memory difficulties, among other conditions. If you’re a plant-based eater, you should ensure that you lack brain-healthy nutrients like zinc, iron, vitamin D3, vitamin B12, riboflavin, etc. It’s why experts advise those on a vegan diet to take vitamin B12 and other dietary supplements to prevent any deficiency.
Ensure that you’re getting enough calories. A plant-based diet is low in calories. No wonder it is recommended for those who want to lose weight. But, not having a supply of calories and other vital nutrients can lead to irritability, hunger, and distractions. If you’re losing weight abnormally, consider adding avocados and coconut oil into your diet.
Which Products Should I Focus on?
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Understanding Why You Should Include More Plants in Your Diet is just the beginning to show that a plant-based diet can improve your overall physical and metal health. But, to spice things up, you need to be more creative. One of the popular myths is that healthy foods are bland. However, there are many ways to make natural foods tastier and more nutritious by adding species or being creative. Although switching to a diet with more fruits and vegetables is worth it, it can be frustrating, especially to those with an eating disorder. It might be helpful to talk to a nutritionist on the best practices while on this diet, or while incorporating more plants into your daily diet.
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Check out some of our other blog posts for helpful information regarding the maintenance of a healthy lifestyle, mind, and body on the outside and the inside.
Incorporating more plants into your diet is just the start to living a healthier lifestyle. However, sometimes you need to unplug yourself from all technology around you to get centered and detox your mind and body fully. For information on how to do this, read our blog, The Negative Effects of Technology – The National Day of Unplugging.
Another great way to detox your body is doing a Charcoal Detox. Read more about the benefits of activated charcoal in our blog, Everything You Should Know About Charcoal Detox.