Here are 8 Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet


One of the easiest ways you can start improving your overall health is by going plant-based. From your gut to your heart and brain, nearly every part of your body benefits when you add more fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes to your plate.

Keep in mind that following a plant-based diet doesn’t mean you have to be vegetarian or vegan if you love foods like Greek yogurt, cheese or fish. A plant-based eating pattern may or may not include animal products, but the frequency of animal product consumption and the portion sizes of animal products are smaller than the conventional American diet. By including more whole plant foods, you’ll get more vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber.

Incorporating a plant-based lifestyle actually helps people increase variety in their diet. People become more adventurous with vegetables and legumes they’ve never tried or never given a second chance, and begin adding more flavor, spices and even a greater variety of cuisines into their regular eating pattern.

And don’t worry, you’ll get enough protein. Standard portions of proteins, animal-based or not, tend to be much larger than what the body needs for optimal function and many people don’t recognize the protein available from grains, vegetables, nuts and seeds all add up in meals and snacks.

So start adding a few animal-free foods to your diet every day. Remember, you don’t have to overhaul your eating habits all at once to begin reaping these plant-based diet benefits.

1. It’s Linked to a Reduced Risk of Cancer

Eating many plant-based foods has been linked with lower cancer rates, likely because plants produce protective phytochemicals that are anti-inflammatory plus, they help you eat more fiber.

Diets rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber were linked to a lower risk of getting breast cancer before menopause compared to lower-fiber diets, per a March 2016 study published in ​Pediatrics​​.

Meanwhile, every 10 grams of fiber daily is linked to a 10-percent reduced risk of colon cancer, according to a November 2011 study in the BMJ.

2. It’s Good for Your Gut

Plant-based diets tend to better support gut health and the microbiome, which science is continuing to tell us impacts many areas of health. From immune system function to metabolism and mood. This is largely due to the fiber and antioxidants, compounds that protect your cells from damage, found in plants. Since plant foods are the only source of fiber and fermentable carbohydrates known as prebiotics​,​ and they offer tens of thousands of phytochemical antioxidants, the bacteria in the lower digestive tract are better supported when diets are rich in whole plant foods.


Your digestive system is home to about 100 trillion bacteria (both good and bad!), and while everyone has a unique microbiota, certain collections of bacteria are known to be found in healthy people. The latest research suggests that certain healthy gut bacteria are linked to lower susceptibility to rheumatoid arthritis and offer a possible treatment or prevent inflammation that contributes to fatty plaque build-up in arteries.

3. It Supports Your Immune System

Eighty percent of our immune system is in our gastrointestinal tract, and it’s good for the immune system to have a healthy microbiome. The best way to do that is to feed the good bacteria. A lot of the fiber found in plant foods like bananas and artichokes serves as prebiotics, which are food for probiotics.

Plant foods are also filled with nutrients which are needed to strengthen your immune system. Just a few of the many helpful vitamins and minerals found abundantly in fruits and vegetables include:

  • Vitamin C:​ A 200-milligram daily dose vitamin C appeared to shorten the duration of cold symptoms by 8 percent in adults and 14 percent in children, which equates to about one day less of sickness.​ One large bell pepper contains 233 milligrams of vitamin C.
  • Vitamin E:​ Found in high-fat plant foods like peanuts, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts and almonds, vitamin E is part of nearly 200 biochemical reactions in your body and acts as an antioxidant to helps your body fight infection.
  • Zinc:​ This mineral has antiviral properties and is found in plant foods such as beans, nuts and whole grains. It has well-established effects on the immune system and even has the potential to be a supportive treatment in people with COVID-19. A zinc deficiency can result in immune dysfunction and increase your susceptibility to infection.
  • Vitamin A:​ Known as an infection fighter, you can get vitamin A from both animal sources and plant carotenoids. Aim for colorful plant foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, pumpkin, cantaloupe and dark green leafy vegetables, the Cleveland Clinic recommends.

4. It Helps Lower Inflammation

You’ve likely seen powders and potions that tout antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, but it’s really best to get your antioxidants through a plant-based diet. When we get our nutrients from whole foods, they tend to be more bioavailable than supplements. Plus, when we eat whole foods, in general, we don’t worry about toxicity.

Antioxidants are important because they can prevent or delay some types of cell damage. While diets high in vegetables and fruits (great sources of antioxidants) have been found to be healthy, research has not shown that antioxidant supplements are beneficial in preventing disease, per the NIH.

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Your body naturally forms free radical, highly unstable molecules that can cause oxidative stress, a process that leads to cell damage when you exercise, digest food, smoke or are exposed to sunlight or air pollution, according to the NIH. This oxidative stress is believed to play a role in a variety of diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and even eye disease like age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.

When we think about lowering inflammation with a plant-based diet, it really leads back to gut health. The gut is involved in managing inflammatory properties, and plants have fiber, polyphenols and phytonutrients that all help with reducing inflammation.

5. It Helps You Maintain a Healthy Weight

A large body of evidence shows that fruits and vegetables can help you lose weight. Eating more vegetables and fruits promotes long-term weight stability or weight loss in women. This may be because the fiber in fruits and vegetables helps you to feel satiated faster and because veggies and fruit are low in fat and calories. What’s more, shifting to a plant-based, low-fat diet is linked to increasing the body’s metabolism to the point of reducing excess body fat.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends eating more fruits and vegetables as a healthy way to lose or maintain weight. The water and fiber in fruits and vegetables add volume, so you can eat the same amount of food for fewer calories (while still feeling satiated!) when you focus on produce.

6. It’s Tied to a Lower Risk of Kidney Disease

Although there were once concerns about protein and amino acid deficiencies with plant-based proteins in people with chronic kidney disease (CKD), those were debunked years ago.

A March 2019 paper in the Journal of Renal Nutrition concluded that not only can you eat a plant-based protein diet if you have chronic kidney disease, but it may even improve your condition.

Those substituting animal-based proteins for plant-based proteins have shown reductions in severity of hypertension [high blood pressure], hyperphosphatemia [an electrolyte disorder] and metabolic acidosis [an accumulation of acid in the body].

7. It Benefits Your Brain

Researchers have found that the Mediterranean-Dash Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet is linked to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s Disease by up to 53 percent in those who adhere to the diet rigorously and by 35 percent in those who stick to it moderately well, per a February 2015 study in ​Alzheimer’s & Dementia​​.

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The MIND diet emphasizes brain-healthy food groups, which are largely plant-based. It also outlines five unhealthy groups to limit, including red meats, butter and cheese.

Plant-based diets are linked to better brain health, especially as we age. The MIND diet is very rich in plants with a very small inclusion of animal products, and is well-researched to have an association with improved neurological function and reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

A plant-based diet may also be able to influence brain function though the exact mechanisms are still unclear and more research is needed, per a September 2019 review in ​Translational Psychiatry​​.

One of the most fascinating areas of nutrition to is how it impacts mental health, and studies have shown vegetarian and vegan diets to reduce psychological distress and reports of anxiety, depression and fatigue. The Mediterranean diet is one of the most popular plant-based diets and also has links to reductions in depression, anxiety and stress despite the inclusion of fish and very small amounts of meat and poultry.

8. It Keeps Your Heart Healthy

Going plant-based helps you replace unhealthy saturated and trans fats with plant-based fats that contain heart-protective polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. And while limiting animal foods can reduce your cholesterol levels, eating more fiber particularly soluble fiber actually helps to bind with cholesterol in our gut and pull it out of our bodies. It naturally lowers your cholesterol.

A plant-based diet is tied to a lower risk of diabetes, and diabetes and heart disease often go hand in hand, per the CDC. If you have diabetes, you are twice as likely to have a stroke or heart disease than someone without diabetes (and at a younger age). You’re also more likely to have heart disease the longer you have diabetes.

One thing that a lot of people are surprised by is that plant-based diets are very effective for preventing or reversing insulin resistance. When we look at real clinical trials of people following plant-based diets versus higher-fat animal diets, consuming beans, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds seems to lower insulin resistance, hemoglobin A1C levels [a measure of sugar in the blood] and your risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

In conclusion, eating well and right coupled with a non sedentary life contributes to a healthy life.

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