Over the past few years, our typical, meat-heavy, Western diets have been on the decline, taking a second seat to more plant-based diets or even the vegan diet. This shift has been accompanied by an increase in awareness of the health benefits of avoiding animal products. We are aware that there are times when the two terms do not refer to the same item, which can be very confusing.
According to research, diets focusing on plants are generally healthier than those containing meat, dairy products, and eggs. This results in improved health outcomes such as lower levels of inflammation and a lower risk of developing chronic illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes (try some of these top inflammation-fighting foods).
However, avoiding any goods derived from animals, such as meat, fish, eggs, and milk, won't be enough. Consuming nutrients in their complete form should be your primary focus if you are working to enhance or preserve your health (versus ultra-processed). A recent study found that participants who consumed a diet that was high in whole foods, as opposed to a diet that was predominantly composed of foods that had been highly processed, consumed an average of 500 fewer calories per day, even though they did not make an effort to restrict their calorie consumption. (If you want to help cut down on the number of processed foods you eat, give our 30-Day Whole Food Challenge a try.)
Those who adhere to a plant-based diet should make an effort to plan their meals in advance so that they can consume a wide variety of foods and, more importantly, ensure that they consume sufficient amounts of essential nutrients such as iron, calcium, zinc, iodine, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins B12 and D.
Here's when a shopping list focused on plant-based foods comes in handy! This shopping list concentrates mostly on essential whole foods that ought to constitute the bulk of your diet. However, it does include a few products, such as burgers and desserts, that are suitable for occasional consumption and may be enjoyed in moderation. We have included items such as fruits, vegetables, grains, foods rich in protein, nuts, seeds, and alternatives to dairy products. In addition, we have listed some of our favorite brands that you may search for while you are shopping.
Why they're so excellent for you: Fruits and vegetables have a high concentration of various nutrients. It is essential to consume a wide variety of foods in order to obtain a wide range of plant-based chemicals and nutrients such as antioxidants, vitamins A, minerals, and fiber.
What to look for: When compiling your list of groceries for the week, bear in mind that you should consume around five portions of fruit and vegetables on a daily basis. Sadly, barely 10% of Americans consume an adequate amount of fresh produce. You'll also be able to locate dried fruit in the produce area, and each serving size is equal to one-quarter of a cup.
Whole grains are beneficial to your health for a number of reasons, including the fact that they include essential minerals such as iron, B vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, zinc, copper, and selenium. In addition to that, they are a source of both protein and fiber.
Check for the following: Products made with whole grains may often be found in one of these three aisles: whole grains, the cereal aisle, and the bakery or bread department. You'll also find some choices in the gallery with snacks and in the area with frozen foods.
It's not always easy to find whole grains while you're shopping. According to the findings of a recent study conducted by Tufts University, many customers have difficulty recognizing whole grains and are unclear about the number of whole grains that are contained in a product. Keep an eye out for the Whole Grains Stamp on packaged goods as well as the term "whole" mentioned before a grain, such as "whole-wheat" or "whole-grain," in the list of ingredients.
Why consuming them is beneficial for you: There are nine essential amino acids. Because our bodies are unable to produce essential amino acids on their own, we must obtain them via the food that we eat. However, lysine content is often low in plant-based proteins. Because of their one-of-a-kind composition, which includes the presence of lysine, legumes are an essential component of a diet consisting only of plant foods. In addition to being a healthy source of fiber, legumes are also rich in iron, potassium, and folate.
The majority of beans and peas are sold in both canned and dry forms, so be sure to seek all of those options. Keep an eye out for canned beans and peas that advertise themselves as "reduced in sodium" or have "no salt added" on the label. You may also rinse them to eliminate any salt that might still be there. Both canned and dry goods are nutritious; the only difference is that canned goods save you time in the kitchen.
Edamame is often located in the freezer section, whereas hummus is stored in the refrigerator. When purchasing peanut butter, search for varieties that include nothing more than peanuts and salt (optional). Try to stay away from goods that have added sugar or palm oil.
Nuts and seeds are typically thought of as a source of healthy fats (which is true), but in addition to that, they are also an excellent source of fiber and protein. This is why they are beneficial to your health. For example, one serving of pistachios contains the same amount of plant-based protein as one egg, while one serving of chia seeds contains 5 grams of plant-based protein. Walnuts, hemp seeds, and flax seeds all contain omega-3 fatty acids, while almonds are a rich source of vitamin E. Nuts and seeds are also a source of various nutrients, depending on the variety.
When shopping for whole nuts, you should steer clear of items that have been roasted in oil. Instead, opt for nuts that have been dry-roasted (versus dry-roasted). You should also avoid products that have an excessive amount of salt or sugar added to them. When it comes to making nut butter, the components should be kept as basic as possible, consisting of simply the nut or seed and some salt (optional). Steer clear of nut and seed jars of butter that have sugar or palm oil added to them.
Why consuming them is beneficial for you: If it is fortified with calcium and/or vitamin D, then non-dairy milk can be a valuable source of protein in addition to other nutrients. In addition to providing probiotics, several kinds of yogurt also include protein. Cheeses and butter are not inherently nutritious, but they do help make it easier to adhere to a plant-based diet, which is especially helpful if you are new to this way of eating. This is especially true if you are trying to lose weight.
What to search for: When shopping for non-dairy milk and yogurt, seek alternatives that include minimum added sugars. The definitive versions of both products are unsweetened and plain, respectively. In addition to that, you should add around 5 grams or more of protein to each dish. When shopping for cheeses and butter, search for goods that include few additives and that get their fats and oils from sources that are more beneficial to your health, such as nuts, avocados, and olive oil.
Why they're beneficial for you: Compared to animal proteins, especially red meat, these plant-based meat substitutes often have a lower level of saturated fat. They also make it simple to consume a substantial amount of protein in a single sitting.
What to look for: You should search for items that have undergone the least amount of processing that is humanly feasible. The various burger selections ought to only be consumed in moderation. The majority of your daily calories should come from whole foods if you follow a plant-based diet.
Why they're beneficial to your health: Snacks are fantastic for keeping you full in between meals, and they provide you the chance to incorporate more nutritious foods and nutrients into your diet. You should look for solutions that will either help you achieve your fruit and vegetable quota or will enhance the amount of protein that you consume. There are instances when snacks are helpful in satisfying a need, and there are also healthy choices available to achieve this.
What to look for: The answer to this question varies depending on the snack, but in general, you should search for foods that are low in added salt and saturated fat and also have a limited amount of added sugars.
Why they're beneficial for you: Frozen meals may help you save time and reduce the amount of food that you throw away, particularly when it comes to fresh fruits and vegetables. The majority of frozen vegetables and fruits are pre-washed and chopped, and they have a shelf life of many months when stored in the freezer. When you're in a rush, frozen dinners may be a lifesaver, and there are a lot of plant-based breakfast options that might be fun to try every once in a while. In the same vein, desserts, despite the fact that they do not always include nutritional components, are nonetheless perfectly acceptable to have on occasion.
What to watch out for: Stay away from fruits and vegetables that have been preserved in syrups or sauces. They may have a high salt content or include a lot of added sugar. Even entrees can have a lot of salt in them. If you plan on consuming the item as a meal, you should look for a product that has less than 30 percent of the salt you need in a day. Make an effort to keep desserts on the east side. It's helpful if there's a built-in portion restriction like there is with the mochi and the popsicles.