Plants are a nutrient powerhouse, which is why many people are starting to explore a plant-based diet. Unlike being a vegan or vegetarian, you can still eat meat and dairy; however, the majority of foods should be derived from plant sources, such as, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, and legumes. A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association cited that diets higher in plant foods and lower in animal foods were associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in the general population. According to ScienceDaily, a study published in Journal of Hypertension found that a plant-based diet can lower blood pressure even if small amounts of meat and dairy are consumed. For those who find the research compelling but are having difficult transitioning to a plant-based lifestyle, below are some tips to help!

Rethink Protein

Getting enough protein in your diet is vital as protein builds and repairs tissues and is an important building block for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. This article, for example, gives  10 science-based reasons why one should eat more protein. Often, people seek animal-based sources of protein (e.g., fish, turkey, eggs, chicken) when there may be better plant-based options. According to Everyday Health, you may live longer by adding more plant protein to your diet derived from sources such as legumes, whole grains and nuts. In fact, a review published in the BMJ found that an additional 3% of energy from plant proteins a day was associated with a 5% lower risk of death from all causes.

Get a Satisfying Super Bowl

Plant-based lunches and dinners do not have to be difficult nor time consuming to make. A plant-based power bowl is an easy go-to staple that has endless ways to dress it up with different grains, vegetables, nuts, seeds, protein sources and sauces. A bowl of soup is also a great way to incorporate plant-based foods into meals. If you like cold soups, try gazpachos! If you prefer a traditional vegetable soup, add a couple of bags of your favorite frozen vegetables along with some tomato paste (taste as you go!) to six cups of warm water. You can add some brown rice or quinoa if you want to include grains, making it even more satiating. With a quick search, you can find many recipes online.

Swap Your Snacks

Plenty of research will tell you processed foods should be minimized when trying to follow a plant-based diet. If you are accustomed to your pre-packaged, convenient snacks, try swapping them for a piece of fruit. Eating more fruit, such as strawberries, oranges, grapefruit, blackberries, apples, and bananas, is an excellent way to improve overall health and reduce risk of disease, according to Medical News Today.

Inspect Your Supplements

Many more people are turning to dietary supplements to add nutrients or other compounds to their bodies. However, it may be hard to determine all of the ingredients in a supplement, including substances sourced from animals’ bones, joints, or coats. You could be hindering your plant-based diet without even realizing it. Luckily, there are plant-based supplements, such as, CocoaVia™, which contains cocoa flavanols, the powerful plant-based nutrient found in natural cocoa beans. Scientific studies have shown that these cocoa flavanols help your body naturally increase its production of nitric oxide, a super-molecule that supports healthy blood flow and enables the delivery of essential oxygen and nutrients to every organ, muscle and tissue throughout the body. CocoaVia™ contains the highest levels of cocoa flavanols available (450-750 mg per serving) and has been shown to significantly impact both cardiovascular health and cognitive health.

Make it a Meatless Monday

If you are interested in a plant-based diet but are not necessarily ready to fully commit, it is totally understandable! Start with making small changes. One idea that has been helpful to many people is participating in “Meatless Monday”—a movement, encouraging people to skip eating meat one day a week. This is a great opportunity to start the week off eating more fruits, vegetables, and plant-based meals! You can even try out some of those bowl recipes!

Whether or not you decide a plant-based diet is for you, adding more plant-based foods and supplements to your plate and body may provide many benefits.

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