What are the benefits of following a plant-based diet?
What comes to mind when you hear the words ‘plant-based diet’? A sad, hungry soul chomping on limp lettuce leaves and dreary celery sticks? Well we have some good news for you: it doesn’t have to be that way! In fact, there are many myths and misconceptions surrounding terms such as vegetarian, vegan, and flexitarian. In this article we aim to clarify some of the most important points, so that you can feel informed and empowered on the topic of plant-based diets.
What does it mean to follow a plant-based diet?
The key to following a plant-based diet is proportionality. You don’t have to become a strict vegetarian (no meat), or vegan (no meat or dairy), but instead you should aim to make foods from plant sources the focus of your daily intake. Still sound restrictive? Perhaps that’s because you don’t yet realise just how many foods fall under the label of ‘plant-based’. Apart from the well-known fruits and vegetables (including the tasty and nutritious SunGold kiwifruit of course), the core of the diet includes nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, beans and legumes.
What are the benefits of a following a plant-based diet?1
Even if you’ve never heard of the term ‘plant-based diet’, we bet you are familiar with one of the most popular versions: the Mediterranean diet! A number of large clinical trials have shown that this way of eating, with its focus on fruits, vegetables, oils and legumes, can reduce the risk of certain diseases including diabetes and cancer. In addition, studies in older adults have linked plant-based eating with decreases in fragility and increases in overall health.
Apart from plant-based foods, a flexitarian diet includes dairy foods such as eggs and cheese, as well as the occasional consumption of meat, fish, and seafood. The natural sweetness of Zespri SunGold kiwifruit makes it the perfect addition to a wide range of plant-based dishes: whichever version of the diet you choose!
Like all dietary changes, it’s best to start slow and simple. Our recommendation for beginners is to set aside one or two nights every week for a completely vegetarian meal. In fact, many of your favourite meat dishes can taste just as good (if not better!), when they are given a plant-based twist. A fan of takeaway Thai food? Then why not try out this recipe for a delicious vegetarian yellow curry, made with SunGold kiwifruit, red bell pepper, and crunchy cashews. Rich, creamy and naturally sweet, it can be served with steamed broccoli or wild rice for a satisfying plant-based supper. Enjoy!
- McManus, K.D. (2018). ‘What is a plant-based diet and why should you try it’. Harvard Health Publishing. Available online: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/what-is-a-plant-based-diet-and-why-should-you-try-it-2018092614760