It’s not too late to jump into some new healthy habits!February 9th, 2021
As you’re about to discover, fuelling your body with whole, plant-based foods isn’t just delicious, surprisingly easy and affordable ‒ it’s also a fantastic way to obtain protein, iron, calcium and other essential nutrients from the healthiest foods around!
Powerful plant protein
From building, maintaining and repairing our body tissue to assisting in the production of enzymes and hormones, there is no questioning the importance of protein in our diet. Nourishing your body with the healthiest protein sources ‒ legumes, whole grains, vegetables, nuts and seeds ‒ provides you with all the protein you need, including all the essential amino acids.
Oh, the irony
Iron is a critical component of the blood cells that transport oxygen around our bodies, providing every cell with the energy it needs to function.
Did you know that those following a plant-based diet are no more at risk of iron deficiency than omnivores? While we’re led to believe that we need to eat meat to obtain iron, the reality is that it is abundant in many of the most delicious and healthy plant foods!
Whole grains, beans, dark-green leafy vegetables, dried fruits and nuts and seeds are all healthy iron sources. Vitamin C increases our ability to absorb iron ‒ even more reason to eat plenty of fresh fruit and veggies!
Milk Calcium for strong bones!
Calcium is the ticket to building and maintaining strong, healthy bones ‒ and there is no doubting the benefits of plant-based sources. Kale, bok choy, broccoli, beans, tahini, almonds, tofu and tempeh all provide an ample dose of healthy calcium…but they also go a step further! Beans and leafy greens are rich in magnesium, potassium and vitamin K, all of which are vital nutrients that aid our bone health.
The vital supplement!
You’ve probably guessed it. Vitamin B12 is that one nutrient that it is important to grab a supplement for when following a plant-based diet. This essential nutrient is produced by a microorganism that lives in our water and soil, yet modern-day sanitation means that we can’t rely on water or soil residues on veggies to provide this vitamin.
Did you know that many animals are fed B12 supplements? Nutrient-depleted soils and the intensive systems in which many animals are farmed means that animals must routinely be given vitamin B12.
Some plant-based foods are fortified with B12, including marmite, some plant milks, soy products and nutritional yeast (great for making vegan cheese!), but it’s important to grab a supplement to ensure you’re getting adequate amounts. You can easily find vitamin B12 supplements at your local supermarket or pharmacy.
Not all fats are bad!
Getting a regular dose of healthy fats is essential, allowing our bodies to build cell membranes, synthesise hormones, reduce inflammation and maintain a healthy heart.
Top tip: Mix some ground flaxseeds (linseeds) or chia seeds into your porridge or breakfast smoothie, and sprinkle hemp seeds or walnuts over your salad for extra crunch, to keep up your healthy fat intake.
The plant-based bonus:
The best part about choosing whole, plant-based foods? All the additional antioxidants, fibre, vitamins and minerals you’ll be consuming! Fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans and nuts and seeds are abundant in countless nutrients that allow your body to thrive! And by skipping on saturated fat and cholesterol-laden animal foods, you’re lowering your risk of some of the most common health issues affecting Kiwis today: heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
Half a million people took part in Veganuary 2021, and it’s not too late to discover what all the fuss is about! Sign up to the Plant-Based Challenge today and get ready to reap all the healthy benefits!