BY: AYTEN SALAHI, MS
It’s officially the holiday season, and if you’ve been cooped up at home for most of the year, you might be looking for some delicious, nutritious alternatives to your favorite holiday comfort foods. How? More plants.
Compared to omnivorous diets, healthful plant-based diets containing primarily vegetables, leafy greens, whole grains, fruit, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, and unsaturated plant oils have been shown to confer beneficial effects for weight management, metabolism, heart health, and systemic inflammation over time. And don’t worry – you don’t need to go vegan to reap the rewards. Mediterranean style diets that emphasize plants, whole grains, olive oil, low-fat dairy, and fish show similar benefits. The key in both cases: eating mostly plants, most of the time, over time.
Making the switch to a more plant-powered diet is a lifestyle change that begins with one knockout meal and carries on for the long run. Start the new year – and the years to come – on a nutritious note by impressing your loved ones with plant-based swaps to holiday classics that still hit the spot. Here are a couple options to start.
Medawar E, Huhn S, Villringer A, Veronica Witte A. The effects of plant-based diets on the body and the brain: a systematic review. Transl Psychiatry. 2019 Sep 12;9(1):226. doi: 10.1038/s41398-019-0552-0. PMID: 31515473; PMCID: PMC6742661.
Sofi F, Macchi C, Abbate R, Gensini GF, Casini A. Mediterranean diet and health status: an updated meta-analysis and a proposal for a literature-based adherence score. Public Health Nutr. 2014 Dec;17(12):2769-82. doi: 10.1017/S1368980013003169. Epub 2013 Nov 29. PMID: 24476641.
Turner-McGrievy G, Harris M. Key elements of plant-based diets associated with reduced risk of metabolic syndrome. Curr Diab Rep. 2014;14(9):524. doi: 10.1007/s11892-014-0524-y. PMID: 25084991.
Yokoyama Y, Levin SM, Barnard ND. Association between plant-based diets and plasma lipids: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutr Rev. 2017 Sep 1;75(9):683-698. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nux030. PMID: 28938794; PMCID: PMC5914369.