What is a Whole Foods Plant-based (WFPB) Diet?

What’s the Science Behind It?

What are the Benefits?

And, What Should I Actually Eat on a Daily Basis?!

Whether you’re an experienced WFPB enthusiast, or heard enough to be curious, this page is meant to provide an overview of the “best of our knowledge” of WFPB benefits and science, as well as practical eating guidelines.

First, the easy part, the definition of what’s included: A whole foods plant-based diet means eating minimally processed fruits, vegetables, beans & legumes, whole grains, nuts & seeds, herbs & spices, and mushrooms.

What’s excluded: animal products (meat, dairy, eggs) and highly processed foods.

Next, why is WFPB the healthiest diet known to science?

The Sciences Favoring WFPB

There are four relevant, big, and distinct scientific domains that each have a “preponderance of evidence” in favor of a whole food plant-based (WFPB) diet being the healthiest diet for humans:

Centenarian and longevity studies: In the five recognized “Blue Zones” on Earth, i.e. places with the highest percentage of centenarians, the overwhelming dietary pattern shared by those longest-living peoples is 95% to 100% whole food plant-based. Despite their wide separation of geography, from Okinawa to Sardinia to Loma Linda, Blue Zones diets share commonalities: they are especially rich in beans, and whole grains or root vegetables. For more details see the BlueZones website, which also links to books and research articles.

Epidemiology/observation studies: From following the demographic, health, and outcomes data for large groups of people over years, WFPB diets are tied to lower risks of disease. Prominent examples include the Adventist Health Study 1 and 2 (additional summary), the Nurses’ Health Study, and The China Study. Population migration studies can be especially revealing, e.g. chronic disease risks (heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s) can differ by 10× or more for the same ethnic group members living in the US vs elsewhere, strongly suggesting that diet and lifestyle far outweigh genetics, as risk factors.

Clinical research and interventions: The carefully planned and closely monitored use of nutrition-based interventions to treat diseases, provides some of the strongest evidence in favor of WFPB diets. In clinical studies, particularly the “gold standard” of randomized clinical trials having a control group, WFPB diets have been repeatedly shown to reverse severe heart diseasetype 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and obesity. This domain provides the key evidence backing “evidence-based” medicine and nutrition.

Biochemistry: A well-balanced WFPB diet is most aligned with growing knowledge of healthy biochemistry in the body, especially our need for antioxidants, phytonutrients, and fiber — only available from plant foods. Those needs are in addition to the familiar macronutrients (carbs, protein, fat) and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals). Plants-only nutrients play vital roles in our health, at all levels from molecules, to cells, to larger body systems (e.g. blood circulation, digestion, nervous system) and organs (heart, brain, gut and microbiome, etc).

These are the broad general “pillars” supporting whole foods plant-based diets, but there are many more specialized studies that are the “bricks” within each pillar.

We can further organize those WFPB “bricks” by their benefits to us, which is what we’ll classify and list below.

One more important note before moving on: these sciences are applied by a rapidly growing community of healthcare professionals, specializing in lifestyle medicine — which primarily relies on the proven benefits of a WFPB diet to help people heal themselves, and thrive.

Top Benefits of WFPB Eating

That's a Ton of Benefits! So What Should I Actually Eat??

Let’s Use the Highest Standard of WFPB Nutrition

Within the WFPB community, there are many different guidelines, with very similar advice: eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, beans, and herbs. Eat a wide variety of colors to get the full range of phytonutrients.  Eat broccoli.  Etc. etc.

But being nutrition nerds at LeafSide, we wanted the most evidence-based eating plan, where as many specific ingredients as possible have direct clinical intervention evidence, and biochemistry-level explanations of WHY a food (group) is good for us.

Thankfully, Dr. Greger and his dedicated army of volunteers at the non-profit NutritionFacts.org provide the whole world with that level of evidence-based nutrition science. To find the most reliable and actionable nutrition advice, they read the tens of thousands of nutrition research papers published every year “so that busy people like you, don’t have to.”

The best findings are posted online at NutritionFacts as short, 2-5 minute videos — well over 2,000 videos now.  Then Dr. G distilled his decades of experience and his thousands of videos from NutritionFacts into one global bestseller book, How Not to Die and shared its simple Daily Dozen eating guidelines.

With over 3,000 references to the nutrition and medical literature, it’s the best scientific advice for healthy living.

What’s the Daily Dozen? Why Does It Matter?

The Daily Dozen is a set of guidelines from Dr. Michael Greger’s global bestseller, How Not To Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease. Here’s a short and entertaining video overview:

The 10 Evidence-Based Foods

From the book’s 3,000 references, come the ten recommended foods (or groups thereof) in the Daily Dozen, listed below (the other two two daily things are healthy beverages, e.g. water/tea; and exercise).

Now That You Know the Highest WFPB Standard, Maybe LeafSide Can Help

Some people learn about WFPB, learn about the Daily Dozen, and can’t wait to crack open the cookbook, make shopping lists, and sharpen their tools for their next super-healthy meals.

For the rest of us who are short on time, patience, or both, LeafSide is here to help make healthy eating ridiculously easy.

LeafSide Makes the Daily Dozen Easy — Every LeafSide Meal Delivers At Least Half the DD’s 18 Units, and More

It’s your choice, any day, anytime, anywhere: one LeafSide meal has strong nutrition by itself. Or pair them: Combine a sweet and savory meal to complete all Daily Dozen servings. See charts below:

  • Sweet Bowls: 12+/18 Daily Dozen Units 
  • Savory Bowls: 12+/18 Daily Dozen Units 
  • Smoothies: 11+/18 Daily Dozen Units 
  • Soups: 11+/18 Daily Dozen Units
LeafSide meals' Daily Dozen units

When combining smoothie + soup, eat 2 servings of whole grains (e.g. 2 slices of whole or sprouted grain bread) to complete the Daily Dozen.

Don’t Compromise Any More On Your Healthy Eating Goals

The status quo is unhealthy convenience meals, or healthy meals requiring time and effort. LeafSide insists on healthy convenience: our complete meal packs deliver leading nutrition science, ready in minutes, to fit your life schedule.

Over 20 Whole Food Ingredients In Every Meal

You won’t find another meal product that delivers the same benefits in a single serving.

Each meal pack has 20 to 30 whole plant-based ingredients inside, more than any other meal on the market.

And when you consider that LeafSide meals ONLY use the ingredients shown from nutrition science to provide you with the maximum health benefits, nothing else even comes close.

...and Don't Forget the Special Nutrients

In addition to helping you check off the Daily Dozen (DD) foods, every LeafSide meal has effective amounts of at least three of the following five DD special nutrients, combined in ways that taste great:

Sulforaphane

“The most powerful natural inducer of our liver’s detoxifying enzyme system.”  1

From cruciferous veggies, sulforaphane significantly improves our ability to detox carcinogens, decrease inflammation, and may combat brain inflammation, mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress, synaptic dysfunction, and help protect against cancer. 2 3 4

Ergothioneine

Obtained only through diet, and most abundant in mushrooms, ergothioneine is a newly found antioxidant that our cells have specific receptors for. It may represent a new vitamin that can uniquely enter a cell’s nucleus and mitochondria, concentrating itself wherever there’s high oxidative stress, like the eyes.5 6

Lignan Compounds

Richest in flaxseeds, lignans may reduce the risk of breast cancer, and prolong the life of those affected.  Lignans may also slow the growth of prostate cancer and decrease cholesterol with daily consumption. 7

Turmeric + Black Pepper

With thousands of studies, turmeric has proven itself as one of the most powerful anti-cancer, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory substances known. It has also been shown to effectively treat rheumatoid arthritis better than the leading drug of choice, and may be effective against osteoarthritis and other inflammatory conditions. 8 9 10

Legumes

“Legumes may be the most important predictor of survival for older people around the world.”

Researchers studied long-term eating habits of the longest living people from different continents. They found that the single most beneficial food group was legumes and beans: a 7-8% reduction mortality risk for every 20 grams of daily consumption. 11 12 13

Ready for the best health of your life?

Tasty, filling, effortless, on-demand, go-anywhere meals following the best nutrition science — LeafSide checks all the boxes. Just click to your optimal health and lifestyle.