A whole-foods, plant-based diet (WFPB) is a meal plan that consists of minimally processed foods, particularly those coming from the plant.
The purpose of this diet is to emphasize vegetables, seeds, nuts, and organic foods, and to limit or avoid animal products.
Most people confuse the whole-foods, plant-based diet with a vegetarian or vegan diet. Unlike the vegan diet where you need to completely exclude fish and meat, animal products can be included in a WFPB diet.
Continue reading to learn about the benefits of the whole-foods, plant-based diet, Foods you need to eat and avoid, and a sample menu to try while you are on this diet.
Benefits of a Whole-Foods, Plant-Based Diet
1. Plant-Based Diet Can Aid in Weight Loss.
Obesity has become a concern nowadays. More than one-third of adults in the US are obese or overweight. 
A plant-based diet can help you if you want to lose weight. It’s because the high fiber content and the exclusion of processed foods make this diet a great choice for weight loss.
A study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine shows results of 12 randomized trials that involved 1151 people. 
Those who followed a plant-based diet lost significantly more weight than those who didn’t.
65 obese adults participated in another clinical trial published in 2017. Some of them followed the WFPB diet, while others were in a controlled group. 
After one year, those who were on a plant-based diet lost more weight compared to the controlled group.
2. It May Promote Healthy Heart.
A WFPB diet excludes processed foods and focuses on plant-based healthy foods that may keep your heart healthy.
A research was published in the Journal of The American College of Cardiology. It shows that a diet that focuses on healthier plant foods can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. 
On the other hand, unhealthy plant-based diet that includes refined grains and sugary beverages can increase the risk of heart disease.
3. Plant-Based Diet Can Prevent Cognitive Decline.
It’s common to suffer from cognitive decline or Alzheimer’s disease at an older age.
The plant-based diet may help you to get rid of Alzheimer’s disease. It’s because this diet consists of foods that are rich in antioxidants.
Research published in the Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology confirms the efficacy of a plant-based diet in slowing the progress of Alzheimer’s disease and reversing the cognitive decline. 
Another study published in 2017 shows that a higher intake of fruits and vegetables could reduce the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia. 
4. It May Reduce The Risk of Cancer.
Following a diet rich in plant-based foods may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.
According to a study published in 2012, vegetarian diet that involves egg and dairy may reduce the risk of gastrointestinal cancer. 
Another research published in 2015 involved more than 77,000 people. Those who followed a vegetarian diet had a 22% lower risk of colorectal cancer than the non-vegetarians. 
The study also shows that pescatarians (vegetarians who consume fish) had a 43% lower risk of colorectal cancer than the non-vegetarians.
5. Plant-Based Diet Can Prevent Diabetes.
Maintaining a whole-food, plant-based diet may reduce the risk of developing diabetes.
A 2016 study shows adopting a healthy plant-based diet could reduce the risk of developing diabetes by up to 34%. 
Another research published in the Cardiovascular Diagnosis & Therapy shows that a plant-based diet could control the blood sugar in people who have diabetes. 
Plant-Based Diet: Foods to Eat
Vegetables: Kale, peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, carrots, asparagus, etc.
Starchy vegetables: Butternut squash, sweet potatoes, potatoes etc.
Whole grains: Quinoa, brown rice pasta, brown rice, barley, rolled oats, etc.
Seeds and nuts: Pumpkin seeds, cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds, tahini, peanut butter, etc.
Legumes: Lentils, chickpeas, lentils, peanuts, peas, black beans, etc.
Unsweetened milk: Coconut milk, cashew milk, almond milk, etc.
Spices and herbs: Basil, black pepper, turmeric, rosemary, curry, salt, etc.
Condiments: Mustard, salsa, lemon juice, soy sauce, nutritional yeast, vinegar, etc.
Plant-based protein: Tempeh, tofu, plant-based protein powders without added sugar.
Beverages: Sparkling water, coffee, tea, etc.
Animal products you can eat:
Poultry: Free-range, organic.
Red meat: Pastured or grass-fed beef and pork.
Seafood: Wild-caught from sustainable fisheries.
Dairy: Organic dairy products from pasture-raised animals.
Plant-Based Diet: Foods to Avoid
Fast food: Cheeseburgers, french fries, chicken nuggets, hot dogs, etc.
Added sugars: Table sugar, pastries, soda, juice, candy, cookies, sugary cereals, sweet tea, artificial sweeteners, etc.
Refined grains: White pasta, white bread, white rice, bagels, etc.
Packaged foods: Crackers, chips, frozen dinners, cereal bars, etc.
Processed vegan-friendly foods: Vegan butter, faux cheeses, etc.
Processed animal products: Lunch meats, beef jerky, bacon, sausage, etc.
There are some foods that you need to minimize eating while on a plant-based diet, including:
Sample Menu for Plant-Based Diet
Here is a sample meal plan that you can try on a plant-based diet. You can choose any of the item based on your preference:
- Blackberry, kale, and coconut protein smoothie.
- Oatmeal made with coconut milk, berries, coconut, and walnuts.
- Plain yogurt with sliced strawberries, unsweetened coconut and pumpkin seeds.
- Vegetable omelet.
- A smoothie made with coconut milk (unsweetened), peanut butter, berries, and plant-based protein powder (unsweetened).
- Oatmeal with avocado, salsa, and black beans.
- Tofu and vegetable frittata.
- Large salad made with fresh vegetables, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, and avocado.
- Hummus and veggie wrap.
- Quinoa, veggie and feta salad.
- Large salad with grilled shrimp.
- Vegetable and brown rice sushi with a seaweed salad.
- Roasted vegetable and quinoa bowl.
- Black bean burgers with a large salad and sliced avocado.
- Eggplant lasagna and a large green salad.
- Grilled fish with broccoli and roasted sweet potatoes.
- Roasted portobello fajitas.
- Zucchini noodles with chicken meatballs.
- Black bean and sweet potato tacos.
- Butternut squash curry.
There are a lot of controversies about which diet plan is best for you. However, a diet plan that focuses on fresh, whole foods and minimizes the processed foods are always good for overall wellness.
Adopting a whole-foods, plant-based diet is considered as one of the best ways to reduce weight and stay healthy.
It’s because the diet cuts out unhealthy ingredients like refined grains and added sugars.
Besides, a plant-based diet also helps reduce greenhouse emissions, lands used for factory farming, as well as water consumptions. It means by following a plant-based diet, you’re helping the planet while staying healthy.