“Plant-based” is currently in vogue as a healthy way of eating. It’s interesting how the terminoloy has evolved. There started out being a controversy over whether vegan is healthy. There are many healthy vegan foods like fruits and veggies, beans, and whole grains, but oreos, beer, and french fries are also vegan. So “whole food, plant-based” was introduced to emphasize minimally processed food made from plants and not junk made from plants. “Whole food” is still a little ambiguous. I get that it’s better to eat an apple than drink apple juice. But even steel-oats are processed. Dr Greger’s site has some good info to make sense out of this.
But lately some people has dropped the “whole foods” and just started saying “plant-based” as if all those foods are healthy and we’re back to the issue that this implies oreos and french fries are healthy. Most recently there has been the advent of highly processed meat alternatives, like the “Beyond Burger” and “Impossible Burger”. These may be better for the planet because making them takes less resources than beef, but it is controversial whether they are healthier. I think it is especially concerning to nutritionists that we might go to Burger King and order a meal of an “Impossible Whopper”, fries, and a soda and think we’re being healthy.
The Tufts article is a good discussion of all of this. I do think the section on helpful animal protein is debatable. I’ve previously discussed health aspects of animal foods, and refer you to Dr. Greger’s site for more information on this controversial point. Nevertheless, I think the Tufts article agrees, and there is good consensus in among nutritionists, that we would all do well to make sure we’re eating more healthy plant foods like fruits, veggies, and legumes (I like the sentence “make plants the star of your plate”), and cut back on animal foods. Elsewhere I quoted the statistic that the average American is eating 1.5 times as much meat and seven times as much cheese as in the early 1900s, a time when all of the population except for the wealthy was lean .
Plant-based dietary patterns are becoming highly recommended, but not all “plant-based” foods are healthy, according to experts at Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter.
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Experts agree plants should make up a large part of a healthy dietary pattern. Humans eat plant roots (carrots and radishes), stems (asparagus and celery), leaves (leafy greens), seeds (including whole grains), flowers (broccoli, cauliflower, artichoke), and the seed-bearing “fruits” of plants (including fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts). All are packed with important health-promoting nutrients, and countless studies have found associations between consuming diets higher in unprocessed plant foods and lower risk for a wide range of disorders such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes. But recommendations to eat a “plant-based” diet can be misleading. “I really dislike the term plant-based to describe a preferred or healthy diet,” says Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH, dean of Tufts’ Friedman School of Nutrition Science…
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