As The Plant-Powered Dietitian, I'm an advocate for a diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, plant-based protein and calcium, and features healthy nuts, seeds, herbs and spices. That's because hundreds of studies indicate that by eating whole, minimally processed plant foods, humans gain protection against everyday illness, diabetes, obesity, depression, mental decline, heart disease and cancer.
When I speak to individuals about making the shift toward a more plant-based way of eating, embracing ethnic cuisines is one of my top tips. For example, look at Indian, Thai, Vietnamese and Mexican cuisines. All of them offer a variety of delicious meals highlighting plant-based foods.
Here are five reasons why ethnic cuisines can lower your blood pressure, improve your cholesterol levels, help you lose weight, and improve your health overall.
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They Embrace Plants
Many cultures simply know how to do vegetarian meals right. Rather than emphasizing animal foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol, they emphasize plant-based foods packed with vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and fiber. Mexican dishes are known for their abundance of legumes, including pinto and black beans. The Mediterranean diet highlights unsaturated and hearth-healthy plant fats, such as nuts and olive oil. The traditional Japanese diet embraces whole soy foods, such as edamame, tofu and miso.
They Shift the Plate
Although the general American population still prepares meals with meat filling the majority of the plate, many cultures use meat as flavoring. This eating style is the basis of many ethnic dishes, such as curries, stir-fries, stews and pasta dishes that are flavored with a small portion of beef, pork, chicken or fish, and a pile of vegetables in order to serve a family-size meal.