Whether your New Year’s resolution is to finally start that home renovation project, have more patience with family and friends, or stick to a regular exercise regimen, your 2024 goals will be easier to accomplish if you feel your best.
Eating more plant-based foods is a natural, sustainable, and attainable way to get the nutrients you need to stay on task. Eating more plant-based foods doesn’t have to mean giving up meat, just incorporating more plants into your diet through healthy swaps and substitutions. Add more nutritious and energizing plant-based foods to your diet with these tips.
5 Benefits of Eating a Plant-Based Diet
Fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, legumes, and whole grains all fall under the plant-based foods category. Plant-based foods can help you feel healthier, stay full longer, and provide the protein required to build muscle. What’s more, plant-based nutrition can positively influence your mental and emotional health and boost your resistance to the effects of chronic disease. In addition, you can eat without guilt as consuming plant-based foods promotes sustainable agricultural practices.
1. Enhanced Nutrition
Many plant-based foods contain folate and vitamins A, C, E, and K, as well as minerals including potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and manganese. Each plays a critical role in supporting key body systems. For example, vitamin E alone promotes healthy vision and reproduction as well as blood, brain, and skin health. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are also great sources of vitamin B12, which plays a role in converting food into energy.
In addition to containing vitamins and minerals, plant-based foods are a significant source of dietary fiber, which helps you feel fuller longer. They also contain protein, which helps you build muscle mass. For example, soybeans are comprised of 36 percent protein, which includes nine essential amino acids. Soy protein has been found to improve muscle mass and strength when coupled with resistance exercise. Indeed, a plant-based diet can provide a similar level of fiber and protein to a diet built upon animal-based protein—making plant-based eating an important dietary choice for those looking to embrace a more active lifestyle in 2024.
2. Improved Mental and Emotional Health
If your 2024 goals include improving your mental and emotional health, plant-based foods might help with that too. Researchers found that individuals who eat five plant-based meals per week enjoy an increase in the gut bacteria that promotes digestive health. This bacteria, called butyrate, acts as a liaison between the gut and brain, which can help combat anxiety, stress, and depression.
Fermented plant-based foods, such as kimchi, made from fermented cabbage, and natto, made from fermented soybeans, are especially good options for boosting gut health. Fermented foods contribute to a healthy gut microbiome, which is associated with better overall health.
3. Greater Resistance to Chronic Diseases
Consuming more plant-based foods can help you maintain your health in 2024 and beyond. Plant-based eating has been associated with a reduction in the severity and frequency of chronic disease. High consumption of legumes, like soybeans, is linked with reduced incidence of cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, and hypertension. Plant-based foods also have anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, data reveals a connection between the consumption of plant-based meat alternatives and a reduction of inflammatory biomarkers in those with type 2 diabetes and post-menopausal women.
4. Eating Plant-Based Foods Helps the Planet
Plant-based foods not only support a healthy lifestyle, but also a healthy planet. U.S. soybean farmers remain especially committed to the sustainability cause. Thanks to their use of innovative farming solutions, U.S. Soy has the lowest carbon footprint, including land use change, compared with soy of other origins.
5. Healthier, Hydrated Skin
The benefits of a plant-based diet can even be visible. A recent peer-reviewed study found that postmenopausal women who consumed 30 grams of soy protein daily for six months experienced a decrease in wrinkle depth and pigmentation and an increase in skin hydration. Results are likely due to soybeans being a significant source of plant compounds, called isoflavones. The amount of isoflavones women consumed for this study can be achieved by eating just two servings of soy foods per day, such as two cups of soymilk or one cup of tofu. Containing all nine essential amino acids, soy protein is also an element of many common snack foods.
4 Ways to Eat More Plant-Based Foods
Adding more plant-based foods into your diet can be easier than you might think! Even if your favorite fruits and vegetables are out of season, plant-based foods’ versatility makes them a commonly used ingredient in food and beverages.
For example: almonds, cashews, and soybeans are key components of today’s vast options. If you’re looking for additional dairy alternatives, plant-based yogurt is worth exploring. Craving the taste and texture of a burger? Black beans, lentils, chickpeas, and soybeans provide the flavor, mouthfeel, and satiety in an array of plant-based meat options.
The following recipe ideas demonstrate how plant-based foods can be added into breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner, so you can reap the benefits of plant-based nutrition and maintain your energy levels throughout the day.
1. Rise and Shine with a Plant-Based Diet
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Honor this by using breakfast as an opportunity to consume plant-based nutrients, fiber, and protein. This Spinach and Feta Brunch Bake is a delicious example of how plant-based and animal-based foods can complement one another in one dish. Too busy to eat a full meal? As the name implies, a Go Green Soy Smoothie is perfect for gathering strength and nutrients on the go!
2. Enjoy Beneficial Plant-Based Foods for Lunch
A midday meal filled with plant-based protein can give you the energy you need to power through your busy day. A Peanut Tofu Bowl is one example of a filling and nutritious lunch. Plant-based tofu’s versatility makes it a natural star of Mexican-inspired lunch options like these Veggie and Tofu Fajitas.
3. Elevate Snack Time with Plant-Based Nutrition
Dip a medley of your favorite raw vegetables in tasty Roasted Garlic Edamame Hummus for a double dose of plant-based nutrition. Raw vegetables not your thing? Beets and potatoes deep fried in soybean oil can be a nutrient-rich way to satisfy your fried food cravings. Check out our recipe for Crisp Root Vegetable Chips.
4. End Your Day with a Plant-Based Dinner
You’ll want to keep the plant-powered momentum going with a filling and nutritious dinner that contains plant-based ingredients. Kale and Cucumber Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing can make for a crisp and refreshing dinner. In the mood for soup? Creamy Pumpkin Curry Soup flavored with apples and onions can be comforting after a busy day.
Food Is Fuel and Plant-Based Foods Are Premium
When you eat better, you feel better and you have more energy to live your best life. Whether you start your day with a tofu scramble or grab a snack loaded with soy protein, you can set yourself up for success in the new year by incorporating more nutritions plant-based foods into your diet. Still looking for more recipes? Check out our plant-based recipe ideas for more options.