Whole-Foods, Plant-Based Diet: A Detailed Beginner’s Guide

It Benefits a Number of Health Conditions

Adopting a whole-foods, plant-based diet not only benefits your waistline, but it can also lower your risk and reduce symptoms of certain chronic diseases.

Heart Disease

Perhaps one of the most well-known benefits of WFPB diets is that they are heart-healthy.

However, the quality and types of foods included in the diet matter.

A large study in over 200,000 people found that those who followed a healthy plant-based diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole-grains, legumes and nuts had a significantly lower risk of developing heart disease than those following non-plant-based diets.

However, unhealthy plant-based diets that included sugary drinks, fruit juices and refined grains were associated with a slightly increased risk of heart disease.

Consuming the right kinds of food is critical for heart disease prevention when following a plant-based diet, which is why adhering to a WFPB diet is the best choice.

Cancer

Research suggests that following a plant-based diet may reduce your risk of certain types of cancer.

A study in over 69,000 people found that vegetarian diets were associated with a significantly lower risk of gastrointestinal cancer, especially for those who followed a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet (vegetarians who eat eggs and dairy).

Another large study in more than 77,000 people demonstrated that those who followed vegetarian diets had a 22% lower risk of developing colorectal cancer than non-vegetarians.

Pescatarians (vegetarians who eat fish) had the greatest protection from colorectal cancer with a 43% reduced risk compared to non-vegetarians.

Cognitive Decline

Some studies suggest that diets rich in vegetables and fruits may help slow or prevent cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease in older adults.

Plant-based diets have a higher number of plant compounds and antioxidants, which have been shown to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and reverse cognitive deficits.

In many studies, higher intakes of fruits and vegetables have been strongly associated with a reduction in cognitive decline.

A review of nine studies including over 31,000 people found that eating more fruits and vegetables led to a 20% reduction in the risk of developing cognitive impairment or dementia.

Diabetes

Adopting a WFPB diet may be an effective tool in managing and reducing your risk of developing diabetes.

A study in more than 200,000 people found that those who adhered to a healthy plant-based eating pattern had a 34% lower risk of developing diabetes than those who followed unhealthy, non-plant-based diets .

Another study demonstrated that plant-based diets (vegan and lacto-ovo vegetarian) were associated with nearly a 50% reduction in the risk of type 2 diabetes compared to non-vegetarian diets.

Plus, plant-based diets have been shown to improve blood sugar control in people with diabetes .

SUMMARY

Following a whole-foods, plant-based diet may reduce your risk of developing heart disease, certain cancers, cognitive decline and diabetes.