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4 Super healthy plant-based foods to put on your grocery list

4 Super healthy plant-based foods to put on your grocery list

Many people ask their nutrition specialists, “What are good foods to eat?”

Plant-based foods are excellent sources of nutrients, including dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, which help plants grow and protect against pests.

A May 2021 review of 12 studies involving over 500,000 people found that those who consumed the most plant-based foods had a lower risk of death over follow-up periods ranging from five to 25 years, compared to those who ate the least.

Here are four versatile and nutritious plant-based foods to add to your weekly grocery list, supported by research.

01. Tomatoes

Tomatoes, classified as berry fruits, are rich in vitamin C and lycopene, a type of carotenoid pigment found in plants. Research from six trials showed that consuming tomato products daily for about six weeks led to reduced levels of triglycerides and total cholesterol, while also increasing ‘good’ cholesterol.

Another review of 11 studies found that tomato consumption significantly decreased systolic blood pressure, particularly in individuals with high blood pressure. Additionally, a plant-based food study involving 260,000 men suggested that higher intakes of cooked tomatoes and tomato-based foods correlated with a lower risk of prostate cancer.

Recipe tip. Keep canned tomatoes on hand for pasta sauce, casseroles, and soup. Create your own sauce by roasting tomatoes and red bell peppers with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then blend with chili paste or herbs of choice. Store in the fridge for later use.

02. Pumpkin

Pumpkin contains beta-carotene, a plant pigment that converts into vitamin A in the body, essential for immune function and cell integrity in various organs.

Research linking beta-carotene intake with health outcomes found that individuals consuming plant-based foods rich in beta-carotene, like pumpkin, had an 8-19% lower risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, or mortality over a decade or more compared to those with lower intakes.

Recipe tip. Enjoy pumpkin soup, a beloved classic. Simply heat the oven to 180℃, roast pumpkin wedges drizzled with olive oil until golden. Alternatively, speed up the process by microwaving cut pumpkin for a few minutes before roasting.

03. Mushrooms

Mushrooms are nutrient-rich and possess potent antioxidant properties. These antioxidants help counteract oxidative stress caused by free radicals, which can lead to cell damage, inflammation, and age-related diseases, including cancer.

A review of 17 studies revealed that individuals with the highest mushroom consumption had a 34% lower risk of developing any type of cancer, with a 35% lower risk for breast cancer specifically. However, it’s important to note that correlation does not imply causation.

Typically, a high mushroom intake, roughly equivalent to consuming a button mushroom a day (approximately 18 grams), showed significant benefits.

Recipe tip. Explore a mushroom and baby spinach stir-fry recipe online for a delicious plant-based side dish, perfect to pair with scrambled or poached eggs on toast.

04. Oats

A review of ten studies compared the effects of different types of oats on blood sugar and insulin levels. It found that intact oat kernels and thick rolled oats significantly reduced these responses, while quick rolled oats did not. This is likely because less-processed oats take longer to digest and absorb. Therefore, choosing whole grain oats or rolled oats over quick rolled oats is recommended.

Oats are rich in beta-glucan, a soluble fiber known to lower blood cholesterol levels. In 58 studies where participants consumed about 3.5 grams of oat beta-glucan daily, there was a significant decrease in ‘bad’ cholesterol levels compared to control groups. Additionally, oats have been shown to slightly reduce blood pressure in five intervention trials.

Recipe tip. Enjoy rolled oats for breakfast throughout the year. They can be eaten as muesli in summer or as porridge in winter, added to meat patties, mixed with breadcrumbs for coatings, or included in fruit crumble toppings.

4 Super healthy plant-based foods to put on your grocery list conclusion

Adding healthy plant-based foods to your shopping list offers numerous benefits. Rich in essential nutrients, they support overall health and may reduce the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

With low calories and high fiber, they aid weight management by keeping you satisfied. These foods also promote gut health and align with environmental sustainability efforts, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and conserving resources.

Their versatility allows for culinary creativity. Prioritizing plant-based options contributes to personal health and a more sustainable diet for both you and the planet.