People can get caught up in the details of paleo, ketogenic and gluten-free diets, but one of the most buzzworthy eating styles at the moment is also super simple. It’s the plant-based diet—one that places less emphasis on animal-based foods and more on dishes derived from the plant kingdom.
Here’s some evidence for why Michael Pollen’s famous pronouncement, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants,” makes good sense:
- Diabetes. People who adhered to a plant-based diet slashed their type 2 diabetes risk by an average of 23%, according to a nine-study meta-analysis in JAMA Internal Medicine. The inverse association was even stronger when healthy plant-based foods—such as vegetables, nuts, whole grains and legumes—replaced starches, sugars and refined grains.
- Heart disease. Among more than 12,000 middle-aged adults studied by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, those with a diet higher in plant foods and lower in animal foods had a lower risk of death from heart disease.
- Diet quality. A study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating more plant proteins like legumes at the expense of animal protein can be a cost-effective way to improve diet quality. That’s an important perk for those living on limited incomes.
- Weight. Harvard investigators found that eating a plant-based diet, especially one that emphasizes healthier plant-derived foods, was associated with less weight gain during 4-year intervals among 126,982 subjects.
- Nutrition. An investigation published in The Journal of Nutrition reported that vegans and vegetarians tend to have higher levels of certain antioxidants, including carotenoids and flavonoids, compared with nonvegetarians. This could be one way in which focusing more on plants can be a strategy for longevity.
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