19 May Benefits of Eating Plant-Based Sources of Protein and Fat
There are many reasons to want to switch to a largely plant-based diet as your source for protein and fat. Perhaps you’ve decided to go vegan or vegetarian, just want to eat better, are avoiding foods like red meat, or want to reduce your carbon footprint.
Research evidence led the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) to encourage a shift in food intake patterns to a more plant-based diet. Plant-based was defined by the DGA as a diet in which the majority of protein sources come from plant products. However, animal products are not excluded in these guidelines, meaning you don’t need to go full vegan to enjoy the benefits of a plant-based diet.
Plants as a Source of Protein
Protein is an important component of every cell in the body. Hair and nails are mostly made of protein. Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues and to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Protein is also an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood.
Approximately 15-25% of your total calories should be from protein sources. When you replace high-fat meat with plant protein, calories are cut, along with saturated fat, while helping to improve the nutritional composition of your diet. If your diet is rich in saturated fats (found mostly in meat, dairy and eggs), you are more likely to suffer from heart disease in the years to come. Unsaturated fats found in nuts, seeds, etc. are the smart alternative to keep your heart healthy.
“If a higher protein intake is desired, there are plenty of excellent protein sources in the vegetable world, including legumes, such as edamame, lentils, and all other beans like pinto, garbanzo, and black beans, as well as peas. Also, tofu works as a great protein source,” recommends Tom Rifai, MD, FACP, Medical Director of Metabolic Nutrition & Weight Management at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Hospital in Michigan.
Foods like edamame, tempeh, and tofu all contain over 15 grams of protein per serving, but they are hardly the only vegetable-based source for protein. Lentils, black beans, lima beans, and peanuts are all smart ways to get plant-based protein. Hemp seeds are also a great source of protein.
The body actually uses less energy to process protein from these vegetable-based foods than it does from a meat-based diet. This energy conservation is great for more efficient healing, building, and overall optimal health.
Getting Healthy Fats from Plants
We have long been told to avoid all sources of fat if we wish to eat a healthier, more wholesome diet. However, while it is smart to avoid saturated fats like those found in meat and dairy products, unsaturated fat found in plants can be vital to maintaining a thriving system. It helps build cell membranes, insulates nerves and contributes to hormone production.
Monounsaturated fats can help reduce bad cholesterol and thus lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. Almonds, Brazil nuts, walnuts, avocados, and soybeans all have this kind of fat.
The polyunsaturated fats, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, can also lower your bad cholesterol and bring down your likelihood of developing heart disease and provide essential nutrients that build and maintain your body’s cells, including omega fatty acids.
One reason it’s so critical to eat foods containing these fatty acids is because the human body can’t produce them on its own. You can capture these benefits from omega-3 fatty acids through seed oils that come from plants such as chia, flax and hemp.
Hemp as a Source of Nutrients
Unlike isolated or synthetic cannabinoids, full-spectrum hemp oil refers to pure hemp oil that features all the same cannabinoids present in the original hemp plant, providing an all-natural CBD hemp oil supplement that allows the cannabinoids to work together in what is called the entourage effect.
However, it isn’t just the cannabinoids that make our CBD hemp oil a valuable addition to your complete diet. Full-spectrum sources of cannabinoids also often contain all the same nutrients as the cannabis plant from which they are derived. Hemp oil provides many essential vitamins and minerals, fatty acids, fiber, protein, chlorophyll, flavonoids, and terpenes.
CBD hemp oil products like RSHO™ pure hemp oil oral applicators capture this nutritional value in a daily use supplement, providing a plant-based source of both unsaturated fat and protein.
Eating a mostly plant-based diet is also more sustainable for the environment. Because it takes more water, energy, and fuel to produce animal products, switching to plant-based foods offers the planet less harmful consumption and has a huge environmental impact.
You can get more tips for healthy living on our education page.