If you want more nutrient-dense foods as the staples for your daily diet, focus on building your power plate. A power plate avoids animal products and processed foods including oils. It includes fruits, grains, legumes and vegetables.
Incorporating more of these types of whole foods can positively affect a person’s well-being, including lowering risks of many chronic diseases, improving mood, increasing energy, improving mental clarity and maintaining a healthy weight.
The easiest way to build a power plate is to focus on eating a good variety of whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits. This helps provide the body with the macro- and micronutrients it needs to perform at its peak.
Macronutrients are carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
Carbohydrates are an essential component of the power plate. Good complex carbs include whole (versus refined) grains and vegetables. Good simple carbohydrates are fruits (versus junk food).
Proteins are made up of amino acids. They build and repair tissue loss. Plant proteins are really the high quality sources of protein since they can also include health-promoting fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Less than 5% of Americans eat the minimum RDI of fiber. Incorporating more fiber into the diet is one of the best ways to build the power plate.
The US Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of fats is 20-35% of calories. Fats provide energy and help the body absorb nutrients. What’s important is the type of fat eaten, as the bad fats can raise LDL, which is a risk factor for our number one killer, heart disease.
To lower LDL cholesterol levels, avoid:
– Saturated Fats, with the top source being cheese
– Trans Fats, sometimes labeled “partially hydrogenated oils,” found in junk food and some animal products
– Cholesterol, with the top source being eggs
Cholesterol is needed for cell wall structure integrity and to make hormones; the body generates ample cholesterol. We don’t need to be obtaining more of it from our diet; plant foods are essentially free of cholesterol.
Unsaturated/Polyunsaturated fats can lower cholesterol levels. Great sources of these “good” fats are nuts, avocados, flax seeds and chia seeds.
A power plate also typically provides vitamins and minerals. I’ll discuss micronutrients in more detail in a future story.
This powerful nutrition pattern is recognized by professional organizations including:
– The American Diabetes Association stated in 2018 that a plant-based diet is an effective option for type 2 diabetes management
– The American Association of Clinical Endocrinology suggested in 2018 that a plant-based diet is the preferred eating pattern for patients with type 2 diabetes
– The Academy of Nutritional and Dietetics states that an appropriately-planned vegetarian diets are healthful and nutritionally adequate, and they may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. They also state that these diets are appropriate for all stages of life including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adults and athletes.
Building a whole-foods power plate of whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits can improve a person’s overall physical and mental health. A whole food, plant-based diet can be your simple “diet for life.”
Note: It is important to discuss nutrition changes with a physician to address any existing conditions or medications you take.