Benefit #1: Decreased Blood Pressure
It is not just the Chinese who have benefitted from a plant-based diet. Research indicates that people from cultures who traditionally consume a predominantly plant-based diet have historically shown lower blood pressure levels than those from cultures who consume a diet of plant and meat .
Research shows that individuals can change and lower their blood pressure levels by simply choosing a plant-based diet . The reason why is because plant-based diets are rich in fiber. Research suggests that dietary fiber increases the feeling of being satiated or full, thereby reducing the amount of food one eats. Eating less may promote weight reduction, which then leads to lower blood pressure .
Benefit #2: Lower Cholesterol and Reduced Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
It's not news that eating healthier can help an individual reduce the risk of heart disease. There exists a strong relationship with following a plant-based diet and lower risk of cardiovascular disease and hypertension. Research indicates that plant-based diets are associated with blood pressure reductions in both hypertensive and non-hypertensive individuals . In addition, eating soy is of particular benefit. A study from Taipei Medical University showed that a group of individuals that were given a soy-based, low-calorie diet over the course of 8 weeks had significantly lower levels of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (aka "bad" cholesterol) as opposed to another group who were given a low-calorie diet without soy .
Benefit #3: Increased Metabolism and Weight Loss
Research has recently discovered that not all proteins are created equal. A well-known and popular belief is that best protein for human consumption is high quality, lean animal protein. But this belief has been called into question with the more recent discovery that shows replacing animal protein with soybean protein in an individual's diet can help to reduce weight and improve metabolism , factors that can help reduce the risk of many diseases. Research has pointed to several reasons why this is true. First, soy is high in fiber, which can help give the feeling of satiety or fullness . Second, the complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber contained in soy take longer to digest, which is beneficial to weight loss . Third, soy has a low glycemic index, which is also beneficial to weight control . In addition, soy's high percentage of protein and high amounts of amino acids and isoflavones may contribute to soy's ability to regulate weight and encourage fat metabolism .
In conclusion, a mostly plant-based diet featuring large amounts of soy can help individuals reduce their risk of the major diseases that are plaguing our modern world. It is therefore no surprise that our parents and past generations have enjoyed lives with less heart disease, obesity, cancer, and hypertension as a result of including plants as a main staple in their diet. After all, isn't mom always right?
Peggy received her chef’s training from the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts in New York City. She has worked as a natural chef for private clients and a writer for Cook’s Illustrated magazine and America’s Test Kitchen.
 Source: Nutritiondata.com. http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/98...
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