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If you’re thinking about switching to a plant-based diet, there are several misconceptions out there. One such misconception is that you’ll be limited to only eating salads and vegetables all day long. Not only plant some of the healthiest things to put in your body, but they also contain plenty of protein and nutrients that can help you feel full and satisfied. If you want to follow a plant-based diet but don’t know where to start, this list of seven plant-based foods should get you off on the right foot.
1. Greens, Greens, Greens
- If you’re not used to a plant-based diet, one of your biggest challenges will be choosing foods that contain enough protein. Some of these diets are very low in protein because they tend to avoid meat and animal products completely. However, as long as you get a variety of plant sources—including beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds—you’ll ensure you’re getting enough protein each day. For example, if you switch from milk to soy milk for your morning coffee drink and try to find more vegetarian options when dining out, both of those choices will help increase your daily intake of soy protein.
2. Fruits and Berries
- Fruit is high in sugar, so it’s important to eat it in moderation when on a plant-based diet. Fruit isn’t a mandatory component of a vegan diet, but there are some amazing benefits to consuming fruits and berries. A diet high in antioxidants and fiber can reduce your risk of heart disease and certain cancers, according to Dr. Frank Sacks of Harvard University. Berries are packed with more powerful antioxidants than other fruits, making them an excellent addition to any diet. Some great berry options include blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries. Or try combining two or three of your favorites into one smoothie!
3. Nuts and Seeds
- Did you know that nuts and seeds are great for weight loss? These tiny, nutrient-dense packages can give your metabolism a big boost. Make sure to avoid salted or sugared varieties of nuts as they add extra calories which can slow down your weight loss efforts. Almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds are particularly beneficial if you’re trying to lose weight.
- As a vegan, legumes will be a go-to for you. They’re high in fiber and protein, which will help keep you feeling full for longer. Legumes also have many different health benefits such as lowering cholesterol and preventing heart disease. One of my favorite ways to eat legumes is to sauté them with some spices, garlic, and onion and serve them over brown rice or quinoa. If you want to enjoy your beans, even more, try adding some caramelized onions on top. It’s pretty yummy!
5. Whole Grains
- Whole grains are a smart choice when it comes to health and weight loss. Your body burns more calories digesting whole grains than refined grains. Plus, you won’t experience blood sugar spikes after eating whole grains, as you do with refined carbs, so they help prevent cravings. And did we mention that whole grains are packed with fiber? Studies show that people who get fiber in their diets are less likely to overeat and put on pounds because fiber helps keep them fuller longer.
6. Oils (Cold Pressed)
- Oils have a lot of fat, which makes them satisfying, but it’s also important to look at how much of that fat is saturated. Oils like extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil are good options for cooking because they’re stable and refined. The problem with olive oil is it can turn rancid if not stored properly. Coconut oil lasts longer because it doesn’t oxidize when exposed to air (like olive oil does), but it’s still fat that has saturated fats in it—and we should limit our intake of those types of fats anyway.
7. Beverages (Alkaline Water, Teas, Juices, Coconut Water)
- It’s important to get your liquids in! Keep in mind that generally speaking, most beverages don’t pack too many calories so you can drink as much as you like! Just watch out for sugar-laden sodas and juices. Stick to alkaline water (pH of 8.0 or higher) and teas—both are rich in antioxidants and will help keep you hydrated. Since coconut water isn’t strictly water, I wouldn’t recommend drinking it too often (it has a fair amount of sodium), but it is good to pick up every once in a while.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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