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Plant based diets and health

🌱Want to try a plant based diet but not sure where to start?

🌱The benefits of a whole food diet based on plants are many and varied

🌱Most of these come from including as big a variety of WHOLE plant foods as possible, rather than necessarily excluding all animal products. Vegetarian and pescetarian diets are also very healthy

🌱Plants are naturally high in fibre, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory polyphenols, as well as being low in saturated fat - all of which are linked to improved health

🌱Whole foods are key - a vegan diet based on ultra processed foods can be just as unhealthy as a meat based one!!

🌱People often worry about protein, yet its fairly easy to meet protein needs - you need around 0.9g/kg bodyweight per day (slightly higher for athletes). Try to get whole protein from as many different plant sources as possible

🌱B12 is important, and on a fully vegan diet must be supplemented, either with fortified foods or a vitamin

🌱Calcium is needed for bone density, and vegans can be at slightly higher risk of calcium deficiency. Ensure you try include a variety of calcium rich foods, as well as either supplementing vitamin D, or getting adequate sun exposure for bone health

🌱Iron is actually not as hard to get from plants as people think - again a variety of foods, and eating foods high in vit C to help absorption of iron is key

🌱Iodine is deficient in many Western diets, plant and animal based alike. Use iodised salt, and include foods such as seaweed

🌱Many people don't think about vit A, yet its essential for health. Bright orange fruit and veges, and dark green veges, are good sources

🌱Omega 3 is also important - plant foods do not contain omega 3, they contain the precursor (ALA) which is converted. Whether ALA provides enough omega 3 is debated, so i usually advise supplementing with an algae based omega 3

🌱Plant based diets can be lower in zinc, so ensuring you focus on including high zinc foods is important.

🌱You can ask for blood tests to check iron, b12, zinc and vit D from your GP (costs may apply).

🌱Seeing a nutritionist or using a nutrition app like cronometer is great to start!! (position of the american dietician association on plant based diets)

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