At Abundance Wholesome Foods we’re all for plant-based diets and in support of anyone whose diet consists predominantly or wholly of plants. But, if like us you like a bit of flexibility – we like our fishcakes and eating them too – you may be considered a Flexitarian or a semi-vegetarian.
Yes, there’s a whole world of sub-categories of plant-based diets out there, which we discovered while researching Vegan Month! It seems “plant-based” is not as clear-cut as we thought, so we wanted to share what we learnt about its sub-categories in specific relation to cardiovascular health.
What we consider the simple form – also known as lacto-ovo vegetarian – followers don’t eat meat and fish, rather plant-based foods, as well as dairy and eggs, however some choose not to include the dairy and eggs, usually as a result of allergies or preference.
We broke down the details of veganism in our last blog post, so if you missed it click here. The trick with this lifestyle is to avoid vegan junk food if health is your priority, otherwise anything goes as long as there is no animal association to the product.
Whole Food Plant-based Diet
This diet encourages the consumption of whole plants such as grains, nuts and fruits and limits animal products (some followers avoid animal products completely). The premise is also to avoid processed and artificial foods, as well as added sugars and fats. The diet is very much informed by scientific studies around the detrimental effect of the latter “foods” on your health.
Esselstyn Heart Healthy Diet
This heart healthy diet is for people who want to reverse and prevent heart disease. It is a plant-based diet, developed by an American Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and encourages people to avoid foods with a face or a mother, which includes meat, fish, poultry and eggs. Foods to eat are vegetables, legumes, whole grains, fruits and supplements taken under supervision.
Low-carb Vegan Diet
This diet promotes eating vegan meals that are low in carbohydrates but rich in healthy fats and protein, such as tofu, avocados and chickpeas. Studies have shown that fats and proteins from plants are healthier than animal products and promote cardiovascular health, weight loss and healthful ageing. Check out this journal article on the link between carbohydrates and mortality.
This restrictive lifestyle is based on a fruit-only diet, which usually means raw fruit (not dried or dehydrated), and may include seeds and nuts. EVERYTHING ELSE is not allowed. This high-sugar diet has no studies to support its health benefits as far as we know, but it is considered a sub-category of veganism. Did you know that Steve Jobs was a dedicated follower?
Raw foodists believe that there are health benefits to eating raw food, like lowering the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, however, no scientific studies have proven this theory. This diet mainly involves whole, plant-based foods that are preferably organic, and avoids processed foods. Heating of food is done only with a dehydrator, which blows hot air through the food, and the temperature should never go above 46 degrees Celsius. The lifestyle is embraced by raw- vegans, vegetarians, omnivores and even carnivores.
This diet promotes eating high-nutrient, whole plant foods that encourage the body’s ability to heal, achieve optimal weight and slow the ageing process. Dr Fuhrman, who developed the diet, terms these high-nutrient foods as G-BOMBS, which stands for Greens, Beans, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries and Seeds. These are considered to be the most healthy anti-cancer superfoods available. The doctor claims that the intake of high-nutrient plant foods “put people at their ideal weight, reverses disease, and decreases the desire to overeat”. People who follow a whole food plant-based diet generally do it for their health – either to prevent chronic illness and disease or reverse them – which is why processed food isn’t included in this way of eating.
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So now that you know your Raw Foodism from your Veganism and Vegetarianism, tell us which plant-based lifestyle you follow! What benefits have you experienced? We’d love to hear your story!