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What is plant-based food?

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You may know someone who recently shifted from a diet full of meat and animal byproducts to a plant-based one. This is due to the fact that plant-based movement is increasingly growing, and thanks to social media platforms, more and more people are now informed about the benefits they can reap from a diet consisting mainly of food sourced from plants. Various diets have emerged with one clear goal: to reduce the consumption of animal byproducts. These plant-loving communities, such as vegans and vegetarians, all anchor in the foundation of practicing a plant-based diet. This means that they mostly consume plant-based food. But what really is a plant-based food? With different terms thrown around, it is easy to get confused. Read on to get a clearer perspective on what a plant-based food is and what benefits you can get from it.

Plant-based food: Nature’s gift

Plant-based foods are completely sourced from plants with no added animal byproducts.  These include, but not limited to cooked or raw vegetables, fruits, nuts, herbs, grains, seeds, and legumes. You may cook and eat vegetables and other plant-rich food in their original form, but nowadays, people are getting more creative in having meat substitutes as derivatives from plants. Jackfruit can now be cooked to look and taste like pork and is used in plant-based dishes such as pulled-pork sandwiches and nachos. Tofu is another popular plant-based food that is a staple in different plant-rich cuisines. Milk can also be considered plant-based, thanks to options such as soy milk and almond milk to name a few.

Is plant-based food healthy?

When prepared and cooked properly, plant-based food can be healthy and nutritious.  Fruits and vegetables are full of fiber, cholesterol-free, and low in saturated fat and calories. Protein is not only available in meat byproducts. It is also found in plant-based food such as chickpeas and quinoa. By eating nutritionally adequate, well-balanced, plant-based food, you can lower your cholesterol, improve your bowel movement, and manage your weight more effectively.

It is, however, misleading to think that any food derived from plants is healthy. Like any other diet, the health benefits depend on the quality and quantity of food you consume.  Technically, French fries are a plant-based food, but since it is deep-fried and seasoned with salt, it can be very high in calories. Those who would like to start a plant-based diet should also be careful with foods that are plant-based but contain lots of sugar.

Whatever plant-based diet you practice, you need to be conscious of the food you eat. To achieve a healthy lifestyle, simply stick to eating plenty of well-balanced plant-based foods that are not highly processed and do not contain too much sugar. As a side note, be careful with the plant-based food you consume, no matter if you are going to transition to any diet like veganism and vegetarianism.

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