It is becoming increasingly evident that a plant-based diet has many health benefits including lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancers, and obesity.

In fact, researchers of a study tracking plant-based dietary patterns and incidence of type 2 diabetes in the US (published in PLOS Medicine medical journal) found that those who ate more healthy plant foods (meaning whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, and oils) and fewer animal foods, had a 35 percent lower risk of diabetes regardless of their weight.

What is a plant-based diet?

A plant-based diet is centered on real, whole, or minimally processed food. It’s a diet based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes (all beans, peas, lentils), nuts, healthy fats, and water, while minimizing or excluding consumption of meat, soda, and highly processed foods.  

Can bread be a part of a plant-based diet?

Absolutely. In fact, bread, i.e. sandwiches, can serve as a vehicle to get more plant foods in the diet. For instance, how about a corn tortilla stuffed with lentils and veggies. Or roasted veggies on whole grain bread, a pita filled with hummus and vegetables, or a bean burrito. Even a nut butter (peanut butter, almond, etc.) on whole grain toast is a great way to get in plant proteins and a balanced meal with healthy carbohydrates, plant proteins, and healthy fats. The options are abundant and the addition of whole grain breads adds to a satisfying and filling component due to the fiber content as well. In addition, grains offer key micronutrients to help you meet your needs on a plant-based or vegetarian diet.

For vegetarians and even vegans, most often bread is acceptable into the diet, but be sure to read your labels. A vegan would generally avoid ingredients such as eggs, milk, honey and royal jelly, casein and whey, and gelatin. Other ingredients, such as mono and diglycerides and lecithin, are typically plant derived, but can be from animal sources.

Open yourself up to all the wonderful foods nature has to offer.

Following a plant-based diet forces a stronger focus on what foods are going into your body while lessening your carbon footprint on the planet. Live a healthier life, lower your risk of disease, and even lose weight without counting calories on a plant-based diet while being good to the environment.

A predominantly plant-based diet has so many benefits and no downside.  

Overall plant-based proteins diets are sustainable, affordable, and nutritious, while being tremendously versatile. In addition to all fruits and vegetables, include whole grains such as barley, quinoa, rice, whole wheat, oats, millet, and so much more. When it comes to breads, keep them predominantly whole grain and high in fiber for the biggest health benefit. 

Lela Iliopoulos is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator and an expert in nutrition therapy, health promotion, and education. She is passionate about impacting nutritional health through the practical application of science-based information.

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