Most of us are familiar with terms like vegetarianism and veganism, which advocate a mostly plant-based diet. There is a relatively new stream of plant-based diets called a Whole Food, Plant-Based diet. It is a more specific type of plant-based diet based on a large amount of nutritional research.
Medical scientists like Dr. Campbell have studied the role of food in relation to health and disease, and have found that a Whole Food, Plant-Based diet can prevent and reverse chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer and diabetes. He and others found that societies that consume more wholesome plant foods generally live longer, happier and healthier.
Societies in which animal-based products play an important role in people´s diets tend to have higher rates of chronic diseases. So, what is a Whole Food, Plant-Based diet exactly?
Whole Food and Plant-Based
Let’s dissect the terms. Firstly and most importantly, this is a plant-based diet. It basically means that the elimination of all animal-based foods like meat, fish, cheese and milk. Instead, the focus is on plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables and beans.
Whole food refers to eating foods in their most wholesome form. An easy example is bread. White bread is a common food around the world. It is bread in which the wheat is processed and turned into white bread. A more wholesome version is whole-wheat or brown bread, in which the wheat is only mildly processed. The difference is that whole-wheat bread contains far more nutrients, fibers, proteins and minerals as compared to white bread.
Other examples of whole foods are tomatoes, while the processed form can be something like ketchup. Olives (whole food) and oil (processed food) is another good example. It seems that for every wholesome food there is also at least one highly processed counterpart. So why is this important?
Researchers have found that processed foods can contribute to chronic disease as they do not offer much nutritional content. It is best therefore best to consume as much whole plant food as possible.
The major Whole Food, Plant-Based food groups.
- Fruits and vegetables: Eat as many of these as you can, at least 50% of your daily food intake is recommended. Go for as much a variety of colours as possible.
- Whole grains: To keep you full and fulfilled, eat whole grains like oats, whole wheat bread and brown rice. These are far superior to their processed counterparts, as mentioned before.
- Beans and lentils: For a full protein profile, include foods like chickpeas, edamame and all kinds of lentils.