Whole Food Plant-Based Eating
If you have heart disease, are attempting weight loss or looking for a way of eating that may prevent many of the chronic diseases so many Americans experience, consider a whole food, plant-based (WFPB) eating approach.
What Is a Whole Food, Plant-Based (WFPB) Diet?
The term “whole food” refers to foods that have not been processed or are minimally processed, retaining most if not all of their original nutrients. Minimally processed foods tend to be:
- High in fiber
- Nutrient dense
- Full of cell-protective compounds
On the other hand, most processed foods are high in fat, added sugar and sodium. Processing removes vital nutrients, such as fiber, magnesium, potassium, iron and many B-vitamins.
The term “plant-based” refers to most or all foods eaten that come from plants. Beans, fruits, vegetables and whole grains make up a majority of foods eaten on a plant-based diet. The amount of animal products can vary from:
- Vegan (no animal products)
- Vegetarian (eggs and dairy as only animal foods)
- Pescatarian (fish as only animal food)
- Semi-vegetarian (various animal products eaten occasionally and in smaller amounts)
Whether you choose to eat animal products or not, all foods in your diet should be minimally processed and low in added sugars, fat and sodium.
What Are the Benefits of a WFPB Eating Style?
Research is clear that WFPB diets provide many health benefits, including:
- Lower rates of heart disease, diabetes and prediabetes
- Improved cholesterol
- Reduced blood pressure
- Decreased risk of some cancers
Research also shows that people who eat WFPB diets tend to be leaner and have more success with long term weight loss.
When it comes to coronary artery disease, the only diets that have been clinically shown to reverse heart disease are WFPB diets that are also low in fat, added sugars and sodium. The following doctors have all published research to show the amazing benefits of WFPB eating along with implementing heart healthy lifestyle changes for the prevention of heart disease. We recommend that you visit their websites for more information:
How Do You Start?
- Work toward increasing fruits and vegetables in your diet. Aim for eating a variety of colors. Eat them throughout the day – at meals and as snacks. Keep fresh fruit out on the counter or cut up in the fridge for a ready-to-go snack. Keep frozen fruit as a back-up for when you are out of fresh fruit. Aim to cover half of your plate with vegetables at lunch and dinner. Fresh and frozen vegetables (without any added sauces) are both good choices. Keep washed and cut up vegetables in the fridge so they are ready to eat.
- Focus on more plant protein and less animal protein. Plant protein can be found in all types of dry beans and lentils, soybeans (including soymilk, tofu, tempeh), nuts and seeds. No salt added canned beans are a quick plant protein source. To ensure you are getting enough protein, check out this website for many plant-based protein options as well as tips about plant-based eating. If you choose to eat animal foods, aim for less. Try smaller portions of meat at your meals and add a few meatless meals each week. As you get a routine established, move toward more meatless meals and less animal-based meals.
- Reduce the overall fat in your diet. Too much fat, regardless of the source, can contribute to insulin resistance, weight gain and coronary artery disease. For most people, small amounts of plant fats – from quality oils, nuts, seeds and avocados – are fine. Amounts recommended will vary depending on your calorie needs and medical history.
- Avoid processed foods. In general, processed foods have added fat, added sugar and/or added sodium. Avoid them when you can. Choose quality carbohydrate foods such as 100% whole grain breads, brown rice, oats, and whole potatoes along with fruits, vegetables and beans. Always read the ingredients on food packages to know what you are eating.
- Take it one step at a time. Focus on the plant foods that you like and are familiar with. Try oats for breakfast, toss a few beans onto your salad instead of chicken, or grab a piece of fruit for an afternoon snack instead of chips. Once you have mastered a few concepts, try a meatless meal, or add a new whole grain to your dinner. Forksoverknives.com is a great resource for recipe ideas.
South Denver Cardiology Associates Can Help
South Denver Cardiology Associates offers a wide range of nutritional counseling services to help you adopt a WFPB diet. Our Registered Dietitian Nutritionists specialize in WFPB diets and will work with you step-by-step as you move toward a more whole food, plant-based diet.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment. South Denver Cardiology Associates serves individuals in Denver, Littleton and the surrounding areas of Colorado.
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As with any health concerns, your specific treatment program should be discussed thoroughly with your primary care physician as well as any specialists who may need to be consulted – like a cardiologist.Sign Up