What Are the Health Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet? (podcast)

Helps reduce weight, lower risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes

Jennifer Chronis, MD, a family medicine physician, discusses the health benefits of plant-based foods in San Diego podcast.

Dr. Jennifer Chronis, Family Medicine

Helps reduce weight, lower risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes

We all know fruits and vegetables are healthy. Making them the foundation of your diet is highly beneficial.

A growing body of evidence suggests plant-based diets — where the majority of your nutrients come from plants instead of animals — can lower cholesterol, decrease blood sugar, and reduce your risk of diabetes and certain cancers.


In this episode of San Diego Health, host Susan Taylor and Jennifer Chronis, MD, a family medicine physician at Scripps Coastal Medical Center Jefferson in Oceanside, discuss the different types of plant-based diets and their benefits, plus what to consider before making any changes to your existing diet.

Dr. Chronis provides tips on how to get creative with recipes to keep your plant-based diet healthy and interesting.

Listen to the episode on how plant-based diets work

Listen to the episode on how plant-based diets work

Podcast highlights

What is a plant-based diet? (0:48)

A plant-based diet is essentially what the name says, a diet that is focused on getting the majority of your nutrients from plant food sources.

What is vegetarian? (1:00)

In a plant-based diet, you’re going to get most of your nutrients from plant sources, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Where they differ is type of plant-based diet. Vegetarians, for example, can add in some animal sources of food, such as eggs and dairy products.

What is a vegan? (1:24)

Vegan is a little bit more strict, where it eliminates all sources of animal products. So you’re not eating dairy, or eggs, or meat.

How do you get creative with recipes? (1:35)

Eating a plant-based type of diet, you do have to be a little bit more creative because you’re not eating as much of a variety, particularly with the protein sources, but using different resources to help with grocery shopping lists and cookbooks to give you different ideas can be really helpful.

What are examples of a plant-based breakfast, lunch and dinner? (2:01)

Breakfast could be something like avocado toast, or overnight oats with some nut butter and chopped up fruit.

Lunch and dinner could be things like a three-bean salad with different vegetables chopped up, a kale salad with Tempe and some sunflower seeds, or something like sweet potato enchiladas.

What are the health benefits of a plant-based diet? (2:45)

The health benefits to a plant-based diet are numerous. Metabolically speaking, it will lower your cholesterol, decrease your blood sugar and lower your risk of diabetes.

It can help you lose weight. It can help with body composition. And it can also have a lot of mood benefits as well.

How is food like medicine? (3:15)

It’s my number one thing to discuss with patients to help treat a number of chronic diseases, as well as lower their risks of certain diseases and even some types of cancers.

How much weight can you lose on a plant-based diet? (3:32)

On average, I would say if you are following the diet pretty well, you could potentially lose about five to 10% of your body weight. Over a course of three to six months; you can expect to start to see the weight come off.

How do you get protein on a plant-based diet? (4:01)

Protein is definitely one of the things you have to be a little more conscious of. Some of the best plant-based sources of protein I recommend are soy-based products, like edamame and tofu. Other protein sources can be things like nuts, seeds, and legumes, or beans.

Are there any risks to plant-based diets? (4:27)

That’s another thing that I love about this diet. It’s really low risk and really effective for a wide range of people.

Because it is a little bit more restrictive, there are some deficiencies that we have to look out for, mainly vitamin B12 and Omega-3, as well as iron. Those are things that I will monitor, and we can always supplement if need be.

Who should not be on a plant-based diet? (4:47)

I really don’t have a lot of restrictions for it. The one thing that I would encourage patients to do is to work with your provider, particularly in cases of things like pregnancy, where we need to make sure you’re getting all the micronutrients that you need.

With aging, protein also becomes very important. In the later decades, making sure that you’re getting enough protein is essential.

What should you consider before starting a plant-based diet? (5:19)

What I would say is consider the lifestyle and the changes you’ll need to make to be able to prepare food that takes a little bit more planning and more skills in the kitchen to potentially put these meals together.

Also, get a baseline assessment with your healthcare provider to make sure that you’re going to be getting all the micronutrients you need.

I would encourage most people to consider a plant-based diet. It can help lower your risk of heart disease, strokes, colorectal cancer, diabetes can help you lose weight. I really encourage you to contact your health care provider and get more information.

Watch the video on the benefits of a plant-based diet

Watch the San Diego Health video with host Susan Taylor and Dr. Chronis discussing if a plant-based diet is right for you.

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