Several months ago I posted 4 food rules I try to live by every day. One of these rules is to eat mainly plants. Why is this rule so important to living healthfully?
1. Protects your body from all kinds of disease, cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and dementia
The list of nutrients in vegetables that protect your body from disease is LONG. Here are just a few to feed your curiosity:
Found in lentils, sweet potatoes, spinach, potassium helps maintain healthy blood pressure.
- To protect from heart disease: potassium
Found in broccoli, strawberries, and avocados these vitamins rich in antioxidants protect cells from damage and mutations that lead to cancer.
- To protect from cancer: antioxidants such as Vitamin C and E
Found in oranges, red peppers and carrots, these powerful antioxidants can reduce the risk of developing inflammation-related disorders such as arthritis.
- To protect from arthritis: carotenes
Found in leafy greens, broccoli, and beans, these vitamins improve cognition and brain function.
- To protect from dementia: B vitamins
2. Helps you lose weight
Vegetables are high in fiber which aids in digestion and getting rid of waste in your body. Soluble fiber, found in cucumbers, slows down digestion making you feel full longer therefore you won’t eat as much food at one time. Insoluble fiber, found in green beans, carrots, and celery, add bulk to your stool getting rid of toxins from your digestive system. All of these things naturally help you lose weight. Making half of your plate at each meal some time of fruit or vegetable is one of my TOP weight loss strategies!
3. Gives your skin a healthy glow
Vegetables hydrate your skin, reducing the appearance of winkles and gives your skin that youthful, healthy glow. How do they do this? Vegetables are full of water and contain a plethora of phytochemicals which protect cells from damage like environmental toxins and ultraviolet light. Brightly colored vegetables such as tomatoes, carrots, and peppers are specifically helpful in fighting off the aging process and enhancing the healthiness of facial skin
4. Reduces stress
B vitamins, found in, have been shown to reduce depression and anxiety. Magnesium, found in green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, and Swiss chard, helps balance your stress hormone (cortisol), relaxes your blood vessels which keeps your blood pressure low, and maintains proper nerve function which reduces anxiety and migraines (commonly caused by stress).
5. Fight bloat
Vegetables can counteract the bloat that is caused by excessive sodium intake (which if you eat out at all, most likely you eat more salt than you need). They are rich in potassium and water (many contain 85 - 95% water), which flushes out excess sodium out of the body and restores the body’s normal fluid balance.
So how do you start eating more of a good-for-you plant-based diet?
One of my tricks is trying to make one meal each day plant-based. For example:
- For breakfast, eat a bowl of oatmeal made with steel-cut oats, 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk, blueberries, and walnuts
- For lunch, enjoy a spinach salad with strawberries, slivered almonds, slices of avocado, and red onion topped with a simple balsamic dressing made of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper
- For dinner, try one of me and my husband’s favorite go to recipes for a quick weeknight dinner, French Lentil Salad. Below is the recipe.
How do you incorporate all those good-for-you fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and lentils into your eating routine? Share in the comments below so others can do the same!
French Lentil Salad SAVE RECIPE
4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 red onion, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1 cup French green lentils, rinsed
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
3 cups of salad greens (pick your favorite: mixed greens, spinach, kale)
1 cup torn fresh herbs, such as flat-leaf parsley, thyme and basil or if you don’t have fresh herbs just use 1 tablespoon of each of those herbs dried
In a medium saucepan, heat 1 Tbsp oil over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, and celery, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 6 minutes. Add lentils and cover with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and season with salt and pepper. Let cool.
In a medium bowl, whisk together remaining oil, lemon juice, and pepper flakes. Season with salt. Add lentils, salad greens, and herbs and toss to combine.