Discover the proven links between plant-based eating and a longer, leaner, healthier life
By Alex White, Dr. Nick Beard and Dr. Robert Ostfeld
What are the health benefits of a plant-based diet?
Lower blood pressure. Plant-based eating has been shown to reduce high blood pressure risk by 75%.
Reduced diabetes risk. Plant-based eating has been shown to reduce diabetes risk by 78%.
Reduced weight. Plant-based eaters have been shown to be 30 pounds lighter than meat eaters on average.
Reduced heart disease risk. Plant-based diets have been linked to great improvements in patients with heart disease.
Reduced bone fracture risk. Increased intake of fruit and vegetables is linked to reduced risk of osteoporosis.
What are the other benefits of plant-based diets?
Increased taste sensitivity. Within weeks people’s taste buds change and they enjoy natural flavors more and crave things like salt less.
Improved sex life. A whole-food, plant-based diet can reduce your risk of impotence and other forms of sexual dysfunction.
Financial savings. One study found that a plant-based diet saves $750 per year on average compared to an economical standard diet.
Reduced carbon footprint. You can reduce your personal climate change contribution up to 73% according to a recent Oxford University study.
Will I lose weight on a whole-foods plant-based diet?
Another reason this way of eating works so well is because it makes it easier to control our weight, and being overweight or obese is linked to developing high blood pressure. To see how this works we need to understand ‘calorie density’. It goes like this:
Research shows we tend to eat about the same weight of food each day – around three and a half pounds. That’s about what we need what to fill our stomach, which then stretches and tells our brain we are full.
But, while the weight stays similar, the calories we eat can vary a lot because foods have widely differing numbers of calories per pound.
Foods we eat a lot of now – meats, refined grains, packaged foods and oils – tend to have high calorie densities. Eating too much of these foods gives us a choice between two bad options: overeat or go hungry.
Foods we used to eat a lot of – like fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains – tend to have low calorie densities. Eating these foods fills our stomachs making us feel less hungry while eating fewer calories.
Many experts think this difference in calorie density could help explain why plant-based diets have helped so many people lose weight and keep it off without counting calories or going hungry. (See Appendix 5 for more information.)
And this brings us to perhaps the single biggest reason why whole-foods plant-based diets work. This way of eating isn’t a short-term thing to lose some weight before going back to a typical diet and putting back on again. It is a way of eating that becomes so natural you don’t even think about – which means you can stick with it – and reap the benefits long-term.
Alex White and Dr. Nick Beard Co-Founded Brightplate.
Dr. Ostfeld is the Director of Preventive Cardiology at Montefiore Health System and a Professor of Medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He has an MD. form Yale University School of Medicine and an MSc. from Harvard School of Public Health. He is a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology.