When I began to write my book, Building Your Enduring Fitness, my goal was to put together my best tips for a healthy, independent life. But as I started researching the optimal dietary pattern for healthy aging, what I discovered changed my eating habits forever!
You see, dozens of studies now make it clear that the most healthful diet we can have is plant-based, where the majority of foods we consume are fruits and vegetables, along with beans, legumes, seeds, nuts, and whole grains. In concert with these foods, we need to avoid or limit animal products and refined, processed carbohydrates (high in sugar).
Among the benefits of a plant-based diet are:
- lower body weight
- decreased risk of cancer
- decreased risk of diabetes
- decreased risk of heart disease
- increased longevity
And research is also looking at plants and their role in brain health.
For many people, “plant-based” is synonymous with being vegetarian; to others it means going even further and becoming a vegan. And so it becomes an impossible food pattern for many people to imagine.
But going plant-based simply means choosing a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, beans/legumes, seed and nuts, and whole-grain products, and substituting these for animal products whenever you can.
So start slowly, maybe adopting the plan that’s worked for many people (even in the school districts), “Meatless Mondays.” Or choose ethnic restaurants that often offer a larger array of plant-based entrees than many American eateries do. And the vegetarian options are growing, even in the fast food arena. Always keep a variety of healthy fruits and vegetables for snacks. Here are a few examples that will help squelch hunger in between meals:
- bananas and natural peanut butter
- hummus and whole-grain crackers
- apples, cinnamon, and plant-based yogurt (soy or almond)
Along with the above snacks, here’s an easy plant-based menu:
- oatmeal with 1 tb plant-based protein powder
- 1/2 cup blueberries
- 1 Tb chopped nuts
- coffee with almond milk
- natural peanut butter
- whole-grain bread with 2 Tb honey
- carrot sticks
- season fresh fruit
- whole-grain pasta
- marinara sauce
- parmesan cheese
- vegetable salad with garbanzo beans
- 1 small square dark chocolate, 70% cacao
To enhance your fruit and vegetable intake even more, add Juice Plus+ to your daily routine. These concentrated produce capsules contain the essence of up to 30 fruits and vegetables, with a plethora of valuable nutrients. Check out my website for more information.