Digging a Plant Based Diet: March 8, 2014

Samantha Solum has a growing interest in healthy eating.

“Well I started working here in high school and just got interested in this type of food,” says Solum.

The seed was planted when she started working at Chef Brooke’s Natural Cafe.

“Then I volunteered on a farm for a while then I learned how to grow my own food,” says Solum.

It’s not just a top diet trend, plant based eating has risen to be a top health trend. Recent findings indicate that instead of meat-heavy meals, you're better off focusing on: plants, whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and soy.

“When I say plant-based it’s all foods that are grown and as close to the ground as possible. Because when you take foods that are grown, the more you process it the less nutritious it is,” says Jeanne Struve, registered dietitian with Lee Memorial Health System.

A landmark study in California looked at 50 years of research, examining a spectrum of vegetarian diets from people across the US and Canada. The results were impressive: People who eat a plant-based diet live longer, weigh less, have less cancer and cardiovascular disease - which is the nation’s top killer.

“You will find decreases in your bad   they have even done a lot of research and seen reversal of heart disease,” says Struve.

The trade-off many feared was losing the protein found in meat. Turns out most vegetables are at least 40% protein. Think nuts, soy; the grain quinoa is extremely rich.

“The amount of protein we need to survive or even thrive is much lower than what people think. And a plant-based diet can give you plenty of protein,” says Struve.

This back-to-basics way of eating is appealing to a younger generation.

“It’s just fresher, makes me feel better. And I mean I’m young, but it definitely makes a difference,” says Solum.

And one of the few instances where you can eat your way to better health.