The Plant Based Food Pyramid

As Karen Reed learned, simply cutting meat out of your food equation doesn’t add up to truly healthy eating.

“We ate very little red meat. We did fresh vegetables. But we loved our cheese and we liked butter. It was a lot of fat and that’s really the culprit for a lot of problems,” says Karen Reed.

By age 60 she was packing on pounds and heart problems.

“I had high blood pressure and high cholesterol and very high lipids, triglycerides,” says Reed.

“Diet really has an impact on a number of the cardiac risk factors,” says Dr. Brian Taschner, who is a cardiologist with Lee Memorial Health System.

Cardiologist Brian Taschner is Karen’s specialist. He believes the typical American diet could use a healthy makeover.

“We eat very little fruits and vegetables. So on average about 10% or less of our, our calorie intake is from fruits and vegetables and when we look at the vegetables consumed, about half of those are potatoes. And most of those are fried,” says Dr. Taschner.

It reinforces the point that all fruits and vegetables aren’t created equal. Taking your diet green, means 50-60% of calories come from plant sources. The majority being leafy greens which top the plant-based food pyramid.

“So things spinach and kale, chard, romaine lettuce, those things and then really incorporating all other types of vegetables into your diet. So that really should be the base of the pyramid. And then other things: whole grain carbohydrates. Like the brown rice, the quinoa, faro. And then legumes, so different kinds of beans, should be the next level. Healthy fats, so things like avocados, nuts, olive oil, that should be the next level of the pyramid. And then realizing that most people are going to still consume some animal protein, that really should be the next level when you maybe limit that to about 10% of your diet,” says Dr. Taschner.

The switch took a big bite out of Karen’s health woes.

“It’s just completely changed our life over the last year. My blood pressure has been much better, I’m on less medication. I’ve lost twenty pounds,” says Reed.

A proper plant-based plan may be the beginning of a health transformation.

View More Health Matters video segments at leememorial.org/healthmatters/

Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of medical care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For nearly a century, we’ve been providing our community with everything from primary care treatment to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries.

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