Eating healthier is consistently one of the most common new years resolutions made each year. However, eating healthier can be difficult, especially if you’re on a budget, or if dieting just isn’t your thing. For those who want to start eating a healthier diet, but are unsure where to start, we’ve got you covered. One of the best ways to incorporate healthy foods into your diet is to start with plant-based foods. Below is our list of the four plant-based foods you should eat every week, and how you can incorporate them into your daily diet.
Benefits of Plant-Based Foods
Plant-based foods are good sources of healthy nutrients. These include different types of dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and a range of “phytonutrients”, which plants produce to help them grow or protect themselves from pathogens and pests. These are essential nutrients that you cannot get from other foods, and can help keep your cells healthy and your body in balance so that your immune system can function at its best.
A healthy immune system is essential for many of your body’s functions, including preventing inflammation, fighting off infections, and even lowering your risk for certain cancers. All of these benefits can be achieved by making sure your immune system is in tip-top shape. One of the easiest ways to do this is by incorporating more plant-based foods into your diet.
Four Plant-Based Foods You Should Eat Every Week
Now that we’ve covered the basics of a plant-based diet, it’s time to dive into our list of the four plant-based foods you should eat every week. Keep in mind that the foods listed below are common, easy to incorporate foods that you can readily find at any grocery store. However, just because they’re common doesn’t mean they aren’t jam-packed with essential nutrients, vitamins, and other minerals that are essential for a healthy diet.
The next time you’re at the grocery store, try adding these foods to your weekly meals for an added boost to your diet.
Despite popular belief, tomatoes are a fruit, not a vegetable. That said, they are jam-packed with many nutrients that are essential for a healthy diet. Tomatoes are the major dietary source of the antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to many health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. They are also a great source of vitamin C, potassium, folate, and vitamin K.
One review of six clinical studies asked participants to consume tomato products equivalent to 1-1.5 large tomatoes or 1-1.5 cups of tomato juice daily for six weeks. The researchers found that the individuals who consumed tomato products daily had reduced blood levels of triglycerides (a type of fat in your blood that increases heart disease risk), as well as lower total and “bad” cholesterol levels, compared to those who didn’t have any tomatoes.
Another review of 11 studies examined the effects of tomatoes and lycopene on blood pressure. Researchers found consuming any tomato products led to a large decrease in systolic blood pressure (the first number that measures the pressure at which the heart pumps blood). However, there was no effect on the diastolic pressure (the second number which is the pressure in the heart when it relaxes). In the group who had high blood pressure, to begin with, both systolic and diastolic blood pressure decreased after eating tomato products compared to placebos.
The next item on our list of the four plant-based foods you should eat every week is pumpkin. Pumpkin is a type of winter squash that belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family. Pumpkin is rich in beta-carotene, which is also a carotenoid (plant pigment). It gets converted into vitamin A in the body and is used in the production of antibodies that fight infection. It’s also needed to maintain the integrity of cells in the eyes, skin, lungs, and gut.
One review of studies that followed people over time examined the link between what people ate, blood concentrations of beta-carotene, and health outcomes. What the review found was that people who had the highest intakes of foods rich in beta-carotene (such as pumpkin, carrots, sweet potato, or leafy greens) had an 8-19% lower relative risk of having coronary heart disease, stroke, or dying from any cause in studies over 10 years or more compared to those with the lowest intakes.
Along with the above-listed benefits, pumpkins are also a great source of the following nutrients:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
Mushrooms are widely known for their great taste and amazing health benefits. Packed with a ton of essential vitamins and minerals, they make for an excellent addition to your diet, adding flavor to many different recipes. There are hundreds of different types of edible mushrooms, all with different flavor profiles, shapes, and sizes. That said, most edible mushrooms will contain similar levels of many health-boosting vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Most edible mushrooms are rich sources of potassium, a nutrient known for reducing the negative impact that sodium can have on your body. Potassium also lessens the tension in blood vessels, potentially helping to lower blood pressure.
The anti-inflammatory effects of many edible mushrooms has been shown to greatly improve your body’s immune system. Research has found that mushrooms help stimulate microphages in the immune system, enhancing its ability to defeat foreign bodies and making you less susceptible to serious illnesses.
One review of 17 studies on edible mushrooms found that people who ate higher levels of mushrooms had a 34% lower risk of developing cancer when compared to those with lower intakes. However, it’s important to note that correlation doesn’t always mean causation. Still, the health benefits of mushrooms alone are enough to land them on our list of the four best plan-based foods to eat every week.
Oats are one of the healthiest grains on earth. They are a gluten-free whole grain and an excellent source of important nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Multiple studies have shown that oats and oatmeal have many health benefits. These include weight loss, reduced risk of heart disease, and lower blood sugar levels.
For starters, the nutrient composition of oats is incredibly well-balanced. Oats are high in fiber, carbohydrates, and beta-glucan, a type of fiber that is associated with numerous health benefits. Oats also contain more protein and fat than most grains. Other nutrients found in oats include:
- Vitamin B1
- Vitamin B5
In addition to all of the above-mentioned benefits, oats are high in antioxidants and beneficial plant compounds called polyphenols which can help fight chronic inflammation. Including oats into your weekly shopping list is a great way to add many of these nutrients into your daily food intake.
What Plant-Based Foods Do You Eat Every Week?
Let us know in the comments below!
What topics related to healthy living should we cover next?
Email us your ideas at email@example.com
Are you a member of our online community?