Adding plant-based foods into the diet has been linked with lower blood lipid levels, blood pressure, and risk of developing chronic conditions. However, there are several myths around plant-based eating that cause many people to hesitate about incorporating them into their diet. Below are five myths and how you can overcome these common beliefs.
Myth #1 Around Incorporating Plant-Based Foods: Eating plant-based is expensive.
Convenience items may be cheaper, but with a well thought out plan, eating plant-based can be cost-effective. Eating whole foods provide more nutritional value than the cheaper, more convenient options.
- Purchase fruits and vegetables when they are in season.
- Frozen vegetables are just as nutritious and have a longer storage life.
- Buy whole grains, beans, and legumes in bulk.
Myth #2 Around Incorporating Plant-Based Foods: Plant-based foods take too long to prepare.
With a little bit of planning ahead and meal preparation, eating plant-based can be realistic and easy.
- Soak dried beans/lentils overnight for shorter cooking times.
- Use a crockpot to cook stew, chili, or casserole all day to save time.
- Wash and chop vegetables and keep them in an air-tight container to have on hand.
- Keep it simple. Stick to foods you enjoy and know how to cook.
- Use a weekly planner and grocery list.
- Basics/Staples to have on hand: Spices, nuts/seeds, legumes, whole grains, and a plant-based cooking oil.
Myth #3 Around Incorporating Plant-Based Foods: I will not get enough protein and minerals on a plant-based diet.
A well-planned plant-based diet providing enough calories can meet the daily protein recommendations . Plant-based proteins are known to be low in fat and high in fibre, which is associated with a reduction in cardiovascular disease risk factors.
- Iron is a key mineral in the blood and it is important to eat iron-rich foods. Plant-based foods contain non-heme sources of iron and animal sources contain heme iron. Food sources of non-heme iron include soybeans, white beans, quinoa, green lentils, and spinach. To increase absorption of non-heme foods, add a source of vitamin C. For example, add citrus fruits into a spinach salad.
- Calcium is important for bone health and daily requirements can be met with a plant-based diet. Calcium can be found in plant foods such as fortified soy milk, tofu, pumpkin, chia seeds, spinach, and almonds. Evenly space your intake of calcium foods throughout the day to promote absorption. Ensure to include resistance exercise such as free weights and weight machines at least 1-2 times per week to strengthen bones.
Myth #4 Around Incorporating Plant-Based Foods: If it is plant-based, then it must be healthy.
Some pre-packaged and processed plant-based food items such as vegetable patties and snacks are high in added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium. If choosing pre-made vegetarian options, read the nutrition facts table to determine the nutritional value. Look for options that are low in saturated fat and have less than <5% DV sodium.
Plant-based foods may help to reduce risk of developing chronic illnesses and incorporating them can be easier than you think. Plan ahead and if in doubt, speak to a Registered Dietitian to help you create a plan and ensure that you are meeting your nutritional requirements.
Have you heard any other myths around plant-based eating? If so, let us know in the comment section below!
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