A plant-based diet means that most of your food comes from plant sources such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, beans, and grains. You can eat meat if desired but plant foods are the main focus of meals. Nutrition experts and pediatricians answer whether plant-based diets can be healthy and safe for children.
There are plant-based diets that have been shown to be beneficial for health, such as the Mediterranean diet, where animal proteins are consumed in low to moderate amounts, the preferred being fish. The Mediterranean diet is known for its potential to reduce the risk of heart disease, as well as diabetes, obesity, and even reduce the risk of Parkinson’s.
The Harvard Nutrition Source notes that there is compelling evidence that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
A healthy plant-based diet for children
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) notes that a plant-based diet that includes eggs and dairy ensures that children have all the nutrients they need to grow healthy.
A vegan diet without eggs or dairy can also be healthy and complete as long as it is maximize sources of vitamin B12, calcium, zinc, vitamin D, and iron.
Pediatric dietitian Jennifer Hyland points out in Well + Good that she prefers the plant-based diet to the vegan diet because it still leaves room for meat, incidentally pointing out that “children need a lot less meat than some think.”
“In addition to meat, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, and tofu are excellent sources of protein for children,” says Hyland.
Pediatrician Lisa Patel explains that the main thing to keep in mind, for both adults and children, is that the diet It must be balanced, with fiber, protein, carbohydrates and fat.
How to follow a plant-based diet according to the AAP
At least half of the plate should contain vegetables of a variety of colors. Eat green leafy vegetables at least once a day.
Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate Suggests Dividing the other half between whole grains and healthy proteins.
Whole grains include whole wheat, brown rice, quinoa and foods made with them, such as whole wheat pasta and 100% whole wheat bread.
Include smaller amounts of meat or cut it out for 1 to 2 meals per week. Healthy animal proteins include fish, eggs, and poultry (such as chicken and turkey). Plant-based protein options for a filling meal include beans, tofu, lentils, and nuts.
Choose healthy fats, which can be found in nuts, seeds, avocado, olives and olive oils.
Choose fruits for dessert.
Nutritious and little processed foods
Both Hyland and Patel emphasize the importance of Choose nutrient-dense whole foods over highly processed, nutrient-poor foods.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.