July 13, 2018

It Pays to Be Picky with Plant-Based Meals

It Pays to Be Picky with Plant-Based MealsResearch suggests a plant-based diet rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, nuts, legumes and seeds can benefit both heart and brain health. Simple enough, right? Maybe not.  Is it possible to eat an unhealthy plant-based diet that can potentially wreck all your good intentions?

Processed plant foods don’t measure up

The results of a recent study of over 210,000 people between 1984 and 2013 showed that while a diet rich in healthy plant foods can significantly lower your risk for heart disease, unhealthy plant-based choices like French fries, sweets, refined grains and juices (all from plants) are associated with a higher risk for heart disease.

Don’t touch it

It’s not enough to simply eat a plant-based or vegetarian diet. Preparation matters. All food is best if it is whole or minimally processed and prepared in a healthy way. Deep fried anything –  from artichokes to zucchini- doesn’t match up nutritionally to a fresh or minimally cooked natural form.

A recipe for brain health

Shop the perimeter of the grocery store or at your local farmer’s market to maximize buying fresh foods. Minimally processed frozen vegetables and whole grains are a good economic option too. Think colorful vegetables, fiber-rich beans and legumes, herbs and spices and good-for-you fats from nuts and olive oil.

The Mediterranean Diet is regarded as one of the healthiest diets and one that may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. It’s plentiful in fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts and whole grains. No to fish? Try walnuts, ground flax seeds or soybeans instead. To learn more, visit healthybrains.org/pillar-nutrition.

To find healthy recipes that are beneficial to your heart and brain, visit healthybrains.org/recipes.