Going plant-based

Author: Victoria Abraham @victoria_abraham_nutritionist   Date Posted:6 March 2019 

A common concern when considering a plant-based diet is nutrient adequacy however when done right, a plant-based diet can be nutritionally adequate.

Going plant-based main image Going plant-based image

 

As a nutritionist, I am seeing more and more people choosing to go plant-based and with accumulating scientific evidence supporting its health advantages, plant-based diets are steadily on the rise.

Many studies show that plant-based diets are associated with lowering overall mortality and ischemic heart disease mortality; reducing medication needs; supporting sustainable weight management; reducing incidence and severity of high-risk conditions, such as obesity and obesity-related inflammatory markers, hyperglycaemia, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia; and even reversing advanced cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

However as a nutritionist, I am also seeing the rise of “junk food vegans”. With so many vegan snacks and easy meals on the market it is still important to be mindful of the additives, preservatives, high sugar content and transfats in these vegan alternatives and the health benefits of a plant-based diet only apply if done properly, or in other words, as a whole food plant-based diet.

A whole food, plant-based diet consists of vegetables, fruits, legumes, healthy fats, whole grains, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices, which can be consumed in infinite combinations. And regardless of going plant-based or not, at least half of the plate should consist of vegetables and fruits in order to ensure adequate intake of fibre, potassium, magnesium, folate, iron, and vitamins A and C, nutrients that tend to be low in the standard Western diet.

A common concern when considering a plant-based diet is nutrient adequacy however when done right, a plant-based diet can be nutritionally adequate.

Below is a table that highlights the food sources of macro and some micronutrients (vitmins and minerals) needed daily.

Sources of notable nutrients.

Nutrient

Food sources

Protein

Legumes (beans, lentils, peas, peanuts), nuts, seeds, soy foods (tempeh, tofu)

Omega-3 fats

Seeds (chia, flax, hemp), leafy green vegetables, microalgae, soybeans and soy foods, walnuts, wheat germ, supplement

Fibre

Vegetables, fruits (especially berries, papayas, pears, dried fruits), avocados, legumes (beans, lentils, peas), nuts, seeds, whole grains

Calcium

Low-oxalate leafy greens (bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, collard, dandelion, le, watercress), calcium-set tofu, almonds, almond butter, fortified plant milks, sesame seeds, tahini, figs, blackstrap molasses

Iodine

Sea vegetables (e.g., arame, dulse, nori, wa me), iodized salt, supplement if necessary

Iron

Legumes (beans, lentils, peas, peanuts), leafy greens, soybeans and soy foods, quinoa, potatoes, dried fruit, dark chocolate, tahini, seeds (pumpkin, sesame, sunflower), sea vegetables (dulse, nori)

Zinc

Legumes (beans, lentils, peas, peanuts), soy foods, nuts, seeds, oats

Choline

Legumes (beans, lentils, peas, peanuts), bananas, broccoli, oats, oranges, quinoa, soy foods

Folate

Leafy green vegetables, almonds, asparagus, avocado, beets, enriched grains (breads, pasta, rice), oranges, quinoa, nutritional yeast

Vitamin B12

Fortified foods (nutritional yeast, plant milks), supplement

Vitamin C

Fruits (especially berries, citrus, cantaloupe, kiwifruit, mango, papaya, pineapple), leafy green vegetables, potatoes, peas, bell peppers, chili peppers, tomatoes

Vitamin D

Sun, fortified milks, supplement if deficient

Vitamin K

Leafy green vegetables, sea vegetables, asparagus, avocado, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, lentils, peas, natto (a traditional Japanese food made from fermented soybeans)

Keeping in mind the macro and micronutrients required, plant-based diets can be nutritionally adequate. And knowing what vitamins and minerals you are getting each time you are eating makes eating that meal so much more enjoyable.

So, as it may be ok to treat yourself to hot chips and a veggie burger or Oreos every now and then, if you want to ensure you are getting all the nutrients you need to live a healthful life with plenty of energy, remember to stick with whole-foods. 

 

About the Author: Victoria graduated at the Australian College of Natural Therapies in Sydney and has a Bachelor of Business from the Australian Catholic University. Victoria is the co-owner of Jimalie Coconut Products. More information about her on her website www.centralcoastnutritionist.com.au


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