On the previous page, you learned about the benefits of a plant-based diet and how it contributes to good health.
And there, I mentioned something about an optimal diet, which I’ll explain now.
An optimal plant-based diet (OPB) is centered on whole, fresh, unrefined, or minimally refined plants. It’s a diet based on leafy greens, vegetables of all kinds (sea vegetables, colored vegetables, and starchy vegetables), fruits, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, and whole grains; and it excludes or minimizes meat (including chicken and fish), dairy products, and eggs, as well as highly refined foods like bleached flour, refined sugar, and oil.
It is based on Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s Nutritiarian-style diet. An optimal plant-based diet is designed to maximally support health and longevity with the following characteristics:
1. It is nutrient dense: high in micronutrients per calorie. It achieves this with increased consumption of nutrient-rich plants, such as greens, fruits (especially berries), nuts and seeds, and other colored produce.
2. It is hormonally favorable: avoids excess hormones, especially the ones found in animal products, that can promote fat storage, premature aging, and cancer.
3. It is comprehensively adequate: uses supplements (when deemed necessary).
4. It avoids toxins: avoids foods containing toxins, carcinogens, infectious agents, and other contaminants that can contribute to food-related morbidity and mortality.
It also puts the emphasis on using food preparation techniques to protect or increase the nutrient density, such as steaming, fermenting, soaking, etc, when possible.
You don't have to eat 100% vegan to adopt an optimal plant-based diet.
Of course, 80-90% of plant foods would be ideal. But anyone can enjoy improved health and vitality by eating at least 50% plant foods (cooked foods and raw foods combined).
So, an optimal plant-based diet can be flexitarian (containing animal products on rare occasions), vegetarian (containing animal by-products like dairy and eggs but in limited amounts) or be vegan (containing no animal products at all).
An optimal plant-based diet is not about deprivation. It’s about enjoying the foods that nature has to offer in their optimum form.
What to Eat on an Optimal Plant-Based Diet?
You might be wondering if you’ll starve on such a diet. Or that you’ll lack variety.
Let me assure you, you certainly won’t.
There are plenty of foods to choose from in an optimal plant-based diet. The following list is taken from the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI) score, developed by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. It is grouped in food categories and ordered from the highest nutrient density score to the lowest — based on identified phytochemicals, antioxidant activity, and total vitamin and mineral content.
10 Plant-Based Food Groups to Boost Your Health
Dark green leafy vegetables
kale*, mustard greens*, collard greens*, watercress*, Swiss chard, spinach, arugula*
Other green vegetables
bok choy*, romaine lettuce, Brussel sprouts*, cabbage*, broccoli*, asparagus, string beans, alfalfa sprouts, radish sprouts*, other sprouts, snow peas, green peas
chlorella, dulse, nori, wakame
Non-green nutrient-rich vegetables
carrots, cauliflower, red and yellow bell peppers, radicchio, mushrooms, tomatoes, artichokes, eggplants, onions, radishes*, bean sprouts, beets
strawberries, blackberries, pomegranate, raspberries, blueberries, grapes, plums, melons, oranges, peaches, pineapples, apples, pears, mangos, avocados, bananas
Beans and legumes
bean sprouts, lentils, beans (fava, kidney, great northern, adzuki, mung, black, pinto), black-eyed peas, split peas, chickpeas, edamame
Raw nuts and seeds
Brazil nuts, sunflower, chia, hemp, sesame, flax, pumpkin, almonds, pistachios, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews
Colorful or light whole starchy vegetables
turnips*, butternut and other squashes, sweet potatoes, corn, yam
Whole grains and pseudo-cereals
old-fashioned oats, barley, wild rice and brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, millet, buckwheat, bulgur
Note: You can download my cute chart when you subscribe to my mailing list at the end of this training.
The foods followed by an asterisk mean they’re part of the cruciferous family — the most nutritious foods on the planet. The ones in pink mean they scored at 1000 points, the ultimate scoring. Again, these are :
kale*, mustard greens*, collard greens*, watercress*, and turnips*
Do you notice anything? They all have an asterisk. Yes, they’re all part of the cruciferous family.
Cruciferous vegetables have the most powerful anti-cancer effects of all foods.
So how much of each group should you eat?
According to Dr. Micheal Greger, the author of How Not to Die, this is his recommendation:
Dark green leafy vegetables and other green vegetables (1 serving/day)
1 cup raw
½ cup cooked
½ cup chopped
¼ cup Brussels or broccoli sprouts
1 tablespoon horseradish
Sea vegetables, non-green nutrient-rich vegetables and colorful starchy vegetables (2 servings/day)
½ cup raw or cooked
½ cup vegetable juice
¼ dried mushrooms
Fruits (3 servings/day)
½ cup fresh or frozen berries
⅓ cup dried berries1 medium-sized fruit1 cup cut-up fruit
¼ cup dried fruits
Beans and legumes (3 servings/day)
¼ cup hummus or bean dip
½ cup cooked beans, split peas, lentils, tofu, or tempeh
1 cup fresh peas
Nuts and seeds (1 serving/day)
¼ cup nuts or seeds
2 tablespoons nut or seed butter
Whole grains (3 servings/day)
½ cup hot cereal or cooked grains
1 tortilla or slice of whole bread
½ bagel or English muffin
2 cups popped corn
Look at that! You can even enjoy some healthy "junk food" like popcorn. You see? No deprivation at all.
All right, now you know what and much to eat. But how do you make sure you don’t fall off the wagon?
Click on the next page to find out.