Wholefood Plant-Based Diets

jays Articles, Month 11

MONTH 1 – Article

Wholefood Plant-Based Diets

Last Reviewed: 04/02/2022

Time To Read: 3mins

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What is a wholefood plant-based diet?

A wholefood plant-based diet is one that has no meat, chicken, fish, eggs, dairy products or added fats and oils. The food groups you can eat from include wholegrains, fruit & vegetables, legumes, plant-based milk and nuts and seeds in small amounts.

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The difference between a whole food plant-based diet and a vegan diet is the removal of added fats and oils. This means removing plant-based spreads and oils like olive oil, sunflower oil, canola oil and especially coconut oil (which is high in saturated fat). A whole food plant-based diet is really defined more by what is included rather than what is excluded.

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What can I eat on a whole food plant-based diet?

You can eat the following foods on a whole food plant-based diet:

  • Whole grains such as brown rice, oats, quinoa, lentils, barley, bulgur
  • All vegetables, especially cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, bok choy, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower), and leafy greens (like kale, spinach, lettuce)
  • Herbs & spices
  • All fruit, including dried fruit but limit this due to its high sugar content
  • Nuts & seeds in moderation. Try choosing nuts and seeds that are higher in omega-3 like flax and chia seeds
  • Plant-based milk

A word on sugar – sugar has no nutritional value and cannot be classed as a whole food. Fruit juice is also not a whole food, however if you choose to use both sugar and fruit juice in your diet, do so in moderation.

What foods should be avoided on a whole food plant-based diet?

The following foods should be avoided if you are eating a whole food plant-based diet:

  • All forms of meat (including chicken and fish)
  • All dairy products
  • Eggs
  • All fats and oils, especially coconut oil which is very high in saturated fat and therefore contributes towards increased risk for developing heart disease
  • Avoid refined grains like white rice and white pasta.

Do I need to take supplements if I follow a whole food plant-based diet?

Because all dairy products are eliminated on a whole food plant-based diet, it is strongly recommended that you take a vitamin B12 supplement. Vitamin B12 is mostly found in meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products so individuals following a whole food plant-based diet will be risk of deficiency of this vitamin.

Vitamin B12 is important for normal blood and nerve function. It also plays a part in making folate (Vitamin B9).

A deficiency in Vitamin B12 or Folate can result in a lack of energy, extreme tiredness, mouth ulcers, a sore and red tongue, muscle weakness, pernicious anaemia, disturbed vision, problems with memory, understanding and judgement.

Calcium is another mineral that followers of a wholefood plant-based diet need to pay attention to. Because the primary source of calcium comes from dairy products, care needs to be taken that calcium requirements are being met when eating a wholefood plant-based diet. Refer back to month 9 of your lifestyle plan to check best sources of calcium and calcium requirements daily.

Why should I eat a whole food plant-based diet?

It is well documented that plant-based sources of protein in place of animal protein (meat, chicken, dairy, eggs) results in a significantly lower risk of dying from coronary heart disease. A diet filled with wholegrains, fruit and vegetables, and nuts and seeds that promote omega-3 intake will have a significant effect on your risk for developing obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. In addition, this type of eating pattern has been proven to reverse heart disease in some cases – something that medication is unable to do.

How to get more wholegrains into your diet:

  • Swap white bagels for wholegrain ones
  • Make sandwiches with wholegrain bread
  • Look for wholegrain foods that have been fortified with folic acid (vitamin B9)
  • Replace white rice with brown rice, quinoa, wild rice, barley, or bulgur
  • Add wholegrains like rice and barley to soups or casseroles

A word on fats and oils:

The Food Cruncher supports a wholefood plant-based diet however we are not adverse to including a small amount of unsaturated fat in the diet if it makes this eating pattern sustainable. This means, adding a little oil (like olive oil or sunflower oil) to your cooking will not harm your health. If cooking and using a little oil makes your food taste better, you are more likely to continue eating a wholefood plant-based diet, which can only benefit your health. Most of your nutrition will be coming from wholegrains, fruits & vegetables, nuts and seeds and some plant-based milks, so adding a little unsaturated fat will not significantly contribute towards an excess calorie intake (which can promote weight gain).

We hope you found this article useful.

Michelle @ The Food Cruncher

 

The Science:

  1. Williams, KA, Patel H. Health Plant-Based Diet. What Does it Really Mean? J Am Coll Cardiol. 2017. Vol. 70. No. 4.
  2. Freeman AM, Morris PB, Barnard N, Esselstyn CB, Ros E, Agatston A et al. Trending Cardiovascular Nutrition Controversies. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2017. Vol. 69. No. 9.
  3. Esselstyn CB, Jr, Gendy G, Doyle J, et al. A way to reverse CAD? J Fam Pract. 2014;63:356–364.

 

The Food Cruncher provides general information and a forum for discussions about health, wellness, food and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this website, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.

If you or any other person has a medical concern, you should consult with your healthcare provider or seek other professional medical treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something that you have read on this website or in any linked materials. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or emergency services immediately.

The opinions and views expressed on this website have no relation to those of any academic, hospital, health practice or other institution.

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