Health and Nutrition: Writer Katie Byng-Hall Explores The Benefits Of A Plant Based Diet And The Reasons Around Why It's More Than A Trend.
Photo by Alexandra Andersson
A study has been conducted in America, finding that following a plant-based diet can help minimise susceptibility to health and heart problems.
The research, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, monitored 10,000 middle-aged Americans over almost 30 years, and made some significant discoveries recommending the plant-based lifestyle.
There has long been the belief that including little to no meat in your diet can reduce the risk of dying from a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular disease, and this study seems to substantiate this.
Analysis of the research subjects showed that those who abided by a plant-based diet were 16% less likely to contract a cardiovascular disease, and 32% less likely to die from such a disease.
What is a Plant-Based Diet?
A plant-based diet can in actuality include a small amount of meat and dairy; this is called a semi-vegetarian or flexitarian diet, and can also be beneficial compared to a regular omnivorous diet. However, a fully-fledged plant-based diet, arguably the cleanest and most ethical way to eat, consists of only fruit, vegetables, grains, pulses, legumes, nuts, wholegrains, and meat substitutes such as soy. Because of the high nutritional value of foods derived from plant sources, following this diet gives you a good intake of fibre, vitamins, and minerals such as vitamin C and potassium.
The clean-eating lifestyle can also reduce the risk of getting type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and some forms of cancer such as breast and prostate cancer.
Like any diet there is the potential to be unhealthy while following a plant-based diet, and to become deficient in some vital minerals without eating meat or dairy.
However, it is easy to replace this deficit by making sure to consume fortified plant milks, iron-rich pulses, spreads and cereals. Eating solely plant-based foods can be a plausible way to live while maintaining a balanced diet.
Sticking to a plant-based diet has a positive effect on the environment as a whole as well as your own health. It is estimated that a 100% vegan or plant-based diet uses a third of the land, fresh water and energy that a diet including meat and dairy does.
Meat production accounts for 90% of the deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest, so by abstaining from contributing to the meat and dairy industry, you can do your bit to preserve the 'Earth's lungs'.
Heart problems are a significant threat, with 7.4 million people in the UK having heart disease, 900,000 having heart failure, and 170,000 dying of a heart attack every year. As this study has shown, a plant-based diet could be the factor that saves you from this fate, so why not try to improve your chances?
In a world where the environment is in danger, meat is increasingly being highlighted as an unethical and unsustainable diet to follow, along with obesity on the rise, it seems sensible to choose a lifestyle which can combat these issues.
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