Plant-based food has become increasingly important in our daily lives, but it is important that the dishes based on this concept are balanced. How to do it?
A healthy diet must be complete, varied and balanced. When we talk about a balanced diet, what we want to do is include all the essential nutrients in the quantities we need. Although the energy and nutritional needs for each individual are specific, it is agreed that a balanced diet should include foods made up of all macro and micronutrients.
The growing concern in carrying out a healthy diet, also leads to more and more people adopting a Plant-Based diet. This is based on the exclusion of foods of animal origin, as well as of processed products, favoring natural and vegetable foods.
The main concern of those who adopt a plant-based diet is related to the protein sources available, since this nutrient is often associated with animal products, such as meat, fish or eggs. However, there are plant foods that also contain protein in considerable quantities, and that allow this nutrient to be contemplated daily, even without the presence of products of animal origin. These protein sources are advantageous as they are low in saturated fat, helping to reduce high levels of LDL cholesterol and preventing cardiovascular disease.
What are the essential elements of a balanced dish?
Thus, a balanced dish in a Plant-Based diet, must include at least one source of:
• Carbohydrates: quinoa, rice (preferably whole), potatoes, sweet potatoes, whole grain bread, couscous, bulgur, yam, oats
• Fat: olive oil, avocado, nuts, almonds, peanuts, pistachios, cashews, hazelnuts, seeds (hemp, pumpkin, chia, sesame, flaxseed), olives
• Protein: legumes (beans, beans, lentils, peas), tofu, seitan, soy, hemp seed, pumpkin seeds
• Vitamins and minerals: vegetables and fruit
The amounts of each food vary according to the energy needs of each one, as well as the weight objective.
Preference should be given to seasonal and, if possible, local products. Foods should be varied from day to day, in order to obtain the different benefits associated with each one. Cooking methods should also be switched, so that the food does not become monotonous.
Portuguese Cardiology Foundation. Balanced Diet. Accessed on August 21, 2020, at http://www.fpcardiologia.pt/pela-sua-saude-cuide-de-si/dieta-equilibrada/
National Health Institute Dr. Ricardo Jorge. Food composition table. Accessed on August 21, 2020, at http://portfir.insa.pt/foodcomp/search
Carolina Jorge Antunes
Nutritionist Holmes Place Avenida Defensores de Chaves