21 Feb Can Eating 30 Plants A Week Help With Weight Loss?
We all know that vegetables are good for us. But did you know that eating more of them could be the key to a healthier gut and successful weight loss? In order to maximise their benefits, research shows that eating a wide variety of plant foods is key. Here, we look at the 30 plants a week rule, and how it can help you optimise your health and lose weight.
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WHAT IS THE 30 PLANTS A WEEK RULE?
The 30 plants a week rule is a guideline that encourages individuals to consume a diverse range of plant foods, aiming for 30 different ones each week. The plant foods can include fruits, vegetables, unprocessed nuts, seeds, herbs, spices and legumes. Eating 30 different plant foods a week has been shown to hold numerous health benefits, which we will explore more in this auricle.
IS IT EVIDENCE BASED?
The ‘30 plants’ rule comes from a study by the American Gut Study. The American Gut Project conducted a study focusing on plant consumption, comparing individuals who consumed fewer than 10 types of plants a week to those who consumed more than 30. Results showed that those eating over 30 plant types had more diverse gut microbiomes, potentially reducing bowel cancer risk. You can read my guide to gut health here.
5-A-DAY OR 10-A-DAY?
You’re likely familiar with the concept of getting your five-a-day, though more recently we’ve been told that we should be aiming for 10 portions of fruit and veg per day. Imperial College London findings showed that eating 800g of fruit and vegetables per day (equivalent to 10 x 80g portions) ‘may prevent millions of premature deaths’ each year by reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease. The study was significant in size. Researchers analysed all available research (95 studies involving 2 million people) from across the world looking at fruit and veg intake to identify how much you we should eat to gain the maximum protection against disease and premature death. Increasing evidence suggests that eating more plants can help you to live a longer and healthier life.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF EATING 30 PLANTS A WEEK?
Consuming 30 different plant foods offers numerous health benefits. These foods provide essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which are crucial for overall health and well-being. The phytochemicals present in various plant foods have powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and immune-supportive properties.
Most of us could benefit from eating more plant foods. As a nation a significant proportion of our diet is made up of ultra processed foods which do support our health. Swapping these for a diverse range of whole plant foods (not to be confused with processed ‘plant based’ products) would provide a variety of health benefits. Consuming a diverse range of plant foods offers a number of health benefits. They provide a broad spectrum of essential nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants crucial for many aspects of health and well-being. The phytochemicals present in certain plant foods have powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and immune-supportive properties.
A variety of vegetables also supports digestive health by providing fibre and other compounds that promote a healthy gut microbiome. Vegetable intake has been linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.
Vegetables can also help you to maintain a healthy weight. Here’s how…
HOW DO VEGETABLES HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT?
VEGETABLES FILL YOU UP AND KEEPS YOU FULL
Nobody wants to feel constantly hungry when they are losing weight. Eating more vegetables helps you here because most are rich in fibre which promotes satiety, the feeling of fullness. This means you’re more likely to be satisfied by your meal and less likely to find yourself tempted by unhealthy snacks. Try starting your meal with a bowl of home made vegetable soup or adding in a side salad.
MORE VEGETABLES = LESS STARCHY CARBOHYDRATES
Basing meals around large potions of refined, starchy carbohydrates like bread, pasta, noodles and rice isn’t beneficial for health or weight loss. Quite the opposite. Instead, fill your plate with plenty of vegetables. Dishes like stews, curries and ratatouille can easily provide a good three or four portions per meal. Cauliflower rice makes a great alternative to rice or cous cous and try swapping pasta for courgetti topped with substantial, protein-containing sauce.
VEGETABLES ARE LOW IN CALORIES
Calories aren’t the be-all and end-all of weight loss, but they are an important consideration for both weight loss and health. Most vegetables (especially green ones) are low in calories so you can eat plenty of them and not worry about over doing it.
IS IT HARD TO EAT 30 PLANTS A WEEK?
30 plant foods may sound like a lot but once you start focusing on how you can get more plants into your diet, they add up surprisingly fast. If your local food shops are limited in terms of what’s available, look online. There are many online health food shops and you could consider signing up for a weekly vegetable delivery box. If you have a garden, consider growing your own vegetables, salad and / or herbs. Even if you just have a small outside space available there are plenty of practical ways to make the most of your space and enjoy the benefits of home grown produce.
ARE THERE NEGATIVES TO EATING TOO MANY VEGETABLES?
In most cases, the pros of eating a wide variety of vegetables outweighs the cons. However, consuming excessive amounts of vegetables may have some downsides. One potential issue is related to certain types of vegetables containing compounds known as antinutrients, such as oxalates or phytates, which can interfere with the absorption of minerals like calcium and iron. However, cooking or processing can often reduce the levels of these compounds.
For individuals with specific digestive conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), certain vegetables high in fermentable carbohydrates (FODMAPs) may exacerbate symptoms like bloating and gas.
Consuming a diet that focuses solely on vegetables can lead to nutrient deficiencies. Vegetables alone won’t provide all essential nutrients in optimal amounts. While vegetables are a key part of a balanced diet for most people, it’s important to understand how to structure a balanced meal.
HOW CAN YOU GET MORE VEGETABLES INTO YOUR DIET?
One of the best ways to stay consistent with eating more vegetables is to find ways to make them taste good. Try flavour-rich Mediterranean dishes like ratatouille and caponata. Stews and curries with plenty of vegetables in work well. Try eating a small salad or vegetable soup as a starter at the beginning of your dinner to up your intake. You can even add neutral tasting vegetables like cauliflower or courgette to a smoothie. It might sound strange but you can’t taste them.
If you’re aware you could benefit from getting more vegetables into your diet, here’s a challenge. Each day for the next week, at every lunch and dinnertime, ask yourself this: how can I get one more plant food into this meal? If you’re eating out, order a vegetable side dish. If you’re packing lunch to take to work, add in some cherry tomatoes or chop up vegetable crudités. If you’re heating up soup, top it with some fresh herbs. Aim to do this for just a week and see how you get on. You may well come up with some ideas that stick for good.
If you’re keen to try the 30 plants a week challenge here is a link to a practical worksheet you can use as a guide.
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