Plant-based diets continue to show a variety of health benefits to those of all ages. You may want to reap those rewards of plant-based eating, but perhaps you don't know where to start.
Research shows that there are many forms of plant-based eating, which we will talk more about later. Therefore, you don't need to completely overhaul your way of eating to receive the health benefits of a plant-based diet. Any way of adding more plant-based foods into your daily routine is beneficial to health.
If you have concerns about the cost of adopting such a plant-based diet, then you will be happy to learn that buying fruits and vegetables in season can cut your costs.
Read below to learn more about what a plant-based diet is, the benefits of adding more plant-based foods to your diet, which fruits and vegetables are in season throughout the year, and tips for budget-friendly and simple ways to add more plant-based foods to your daily routine today.
A plant-based diet is a way of eating that consists of mostly plant-based foods. Plant-based foods not only include fruits and vegetables, but also include:
Research shows that eating a majority of such plant-based foods in the diet can help reduce the level of inflammatory markers in the blood and can improve cognitive function in older adults. There are various plant-based diets that will fit just about any lifestyle that include the following:
The good news is that you can gain health benefits from any addition of plant-based foods to your daily routine, even if you don't adopt one of the diets above. If you follow an omnivore diet, which includes animal products, then you can simply add more fruits and vegetables to your meals and snacks for extra nutrients and antioxidants.
As the seasons change, different fruits and vegetables will reach harvest. And when certain fruits and vegetables are in season, they will not only be at the peak of their flavor, but they will also be more abundant. In turn, this increased supply will lead to lower prices at the farmer's market or grocery store.
Read below to learn more about the seasonal produce for each of the four major seasons:
Springtime is the time of year most of us associate with flowers blooming and bright blue skies. So, it's no surprise that the fruits and vegetables in season this time of year are also brightly colored. From the reddish hues of apples, the orange color of carrots, the yellow in bananas, the bright green color of asparagus and the reddish-pink hue of rhubarb, seasonal springtime produce brings with it just about all colors of the rainbow. Other seasonal produce for the spring includes:
In the summer months, when the weather becomes warmer for many places, it's refreshing to enjoy crisp, cool salads, refreshing fruit smoothies and juicy melon fruits. Here's a list of delicious produce that is seasonal in the summer:
In most places, fall, or autumn, is the time of year when leaves change color on the trees and the weather starts to cool down. This time of year is known for pumpkins and squash that create visions of comfort foods and drinks. Some seasonal in the fall includes:
In most places, the winter season is when the weather becomes cold and is the perfect time for warm, comforting foods like soups chock full of filling root vegetables like carrots and potatoes as well as delicious desserts like baked apples and pears. Read the list below to learn more about other seasonal winter produce.
Now that you know which fruits and vegetables are in season, let's talk about how you can fit such foods, as well as other plant-based foods, in your daily routine.
Although plant-based foods are a healthy way to improve your eating plan, the cost of such foods may stand in your way of adopting such habits. Read below for some tips on budget-friendly ways to add more plants to your diet today.
As stated earlier, produce that is in season can cost less because since it is in harvest, it is more plentiful. Therefore, use the lists above to plan weekly meals and snacks around seasonal produce. Buying produce from local grocery stores and farmers markets can also help to reduce the cost of plant-based foods.
Unlike popular belief, research shows that there are many frozen produce items that contain more nutrients than their fresh counterparts. And the bonus is that frozen vegetables are typically less expensive than fresh produce, and they can be stored in the freezer for many months versus a few days to weeks with fresh produce.
When you are at the grocery store, try to buy the most produce for your buck by choosing common lower cost produce items. Such items usually include bananas, apples, oranges, carrots and onions, for example. Just buy the amount you know you will consume so you can prevent wasting food as well as wasting money.
When you buy frozen produce, and you know that you will eat a certain vegetable often, it's more budget-friendly to buy in bulk. Such bulk items are often at a lower cost per serving than smaller bags, and they can last you much longer so you can save trips to the grocery store.
Also, other plant-based foods like nuts can be cheaper in bulk too. Some grocery stores may have a bulk section where you can buy just the amount of nuts, oats, flour or dried fruit, for example, that you need. And the prices are often cheaper than what you would pay for a similar pre-packaged item.
Research shows that those who purchase canned foods most often are more likely to consume more important nutrients like potassium, calcium and fiber, than infrequent can users. Therefore, do not believe those who tell you that canned food can't be healthy. Canned food is cost effective for many and can increase your chances of consuming enough nutrients daily.
And choosing generic or store brands are often a fraction of the price of name brands of frozen and canned vegetables and fruits. So, look for those canned produce items that are on special and try to plan meals around those items to receive the most plant-based bang for your buck.
If you choose canned foods, look for those without added salt, seasonings or sauces since these items will contain less sodium and fat, which are more heart healthy than their pre-seasoned and sauced counterparts.
Eating more plants can provide many benefits to the health of body and mind. And there are many ways to enjoy fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods at mealtime and as snacks. However, it's understandable if your budget stands in your way of eating as many plant-based foods as you would like.
That is why it's important to call your health insurance company to see if there are any programs you qualify for that could help provide funds or vouchers for healthy foods at the grocery store or farmer's markets. The access to such programs will depend on your health insurance company and the state you live in.
And if cooking, preparing, or purchasing food is difficult for you, then this is also a situation in which you should call your health insurance company. This is because you may have access to resources such as free healthy meal delivery or home health care that could assist you in preparing healthy meals. Never hesitate to call your health insurance company to ask for assistance on such resources since many older adults qualify for them and should take advantage of any program that could help them lead the healthiest life possible.
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