5 Essential Plant Based Food Groups

Plant-based nutrition comes from 5 essential plant based food groups

Fruits , Vegetables, Legumes, Whole grains, Nuts and seeds

Let’s discuss them a little more in depth:

Fruits and Vegetables 

The first of our plant based food groups is fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are pretty self explanatory. All of the wonderful fresh and colorful whole foods grown from earth.

There are so many different options to explore. Each fruit or vegetable provides you with different tastes and nutrients. 

Just to name a few:

Citrus fruits, apples, bananas, berries, tomatoes, kiwi, pears, peaches, pineapple, watermelon, melons, mango, grapes

Green leafy vegetables, lettuces, spinach, kale, collard greens, potatoes, peas, asparagus, broccoli, avocado, carrots, squash, peppers

There are an assortment of fruits and vegetables that are known to be dirty and some clean. Meaning some you need to buy organic and others are ok to buy non organic.

As a rule of thumb:

Always Buy OrganicOK to Buy Regular
CelerySweet corn 
SpinachSweet peas 
Bell peppersMango
Snap peasOnions
Sweet Potatoes


Our second plant based food group is legumes, which include pulses and lentils.

What Is a legume?

A legume refers to any plant from the Fabaceae family that would include its leaves, stems, and pod.

Examples are soy beans, peanuts, peas, and the best for last, beans

What is a pulse?

The term “pulse” is used to describe the edible seeds of legumes. 

For example, a pea pod is a legume, but the pea inside the pod is the pulse.

They grow in pods and come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors.

Pulses are healthy, nutritious and easy to cook with. 

Growing pulses also promotes sustainable agriculture, as pulse crops help decrease greenhouse gasses, increase soil health, and use less water than other crops.

Examples are beans, peas, and lentils.

What is a lentil?

Lentils are a type of pulse. Lentils come in a variety of sizes ranging from extra-small to large and there are many different kinds of lentils. The most commonly found lentils at the grocery store are large green lentils and split red lentils. 

Split lentils have had their seed coat removed and the inner part of the lentil  has been split in half. Split lentils cook much faster than whole lentils and are excellent for use in curries, as a thickener in soups, and for purees, whereas whole lentils tend to work better in salads or other applications where texture is desired.

Whole grains

Our third plant based food group is whole grains. But what is a whole grain?

A whole grain is defined as the whole kernel being present in its original proportions. Even if the grain is processed (cracked, crushed, rolled) it should deliver the same rich balance of nutrients that are found in the original grain seed.

Whole grains include grains like wheat, corn, rice, oats, barley, quinoa, rye, and buckwheat.

What nutrients make whole grains so healthy?

The big ones are protein and fiber. 

The proteins in grains paired with those in beans and other plants form complete proteins. 

Grain fiber is thought to protect against digestive cancers more than other forms of fiber.

Other important nutrients whole grains offer are iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, and B Vitamins.

What is the healthiest whole grain?

There is not one healthiest whole grain. Some are stronger in one nutrient, and others in different nutrients. 

It’s like comparing the best fruit or vegetable- they all offer different benefits. It is recommended (like with fruits and vegetables) to eat a wide variety for the best range of healthy nutrients and tastes.

Nuts and Seeds

Finally, our last plant based food group is nuts and seeds.

What is a nut?

Nuts are actually the seeds of plants. Most are the seeds of trees; peanuts, however, are the seeds of a legume.

Examples of nuts are: almonds, cashews, walnuts, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, hazelnuts, and pine nuts.

Many, including walnuts and cashews, grow inside leathery fruits. This is similar to the pit of a peach which is also a seed.

Why are nuts so healthy?

Nuts contain healthy unsaturated fats, protein, fiber, and other nutrients. For example, peanuts and pecans contain lots of B vitamins; 

Almonds are rich in calcium and vitamin E; 

Walnuts have lots of folate, vitamin E, and ALA, (an omega-3 fatty acid). And all nuts have magnesium.

What is a seed?

Seeds come from vegetables, flowers, or crops.

The most common seeds are pumpkin, sunflower, flax, chia, hemp, and sesame.

Are seeds nutritious?

Yes they are very nutritious. In fact, just a tablespoon of seeds yields quite a surprising amount of nutrition.

For example, In chia seeds contain 2 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, and 78 milligrams of calcium. 

A tablespoon of flaxseed contains 2 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber. 

Hemp seeds contain only 1 gram of fiber in a tablespoon, but 10 grams of protein.

Adding nuts and seeds to your diet is simple. Sprinkle a few into salads, sauces, vegetables, or whole grains such as brown rice or quinoa.

All of this is explains the 5 Essential Plant-Based Food Groups, and why they are so nutritious.

Peace and Love 




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