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The Power of 30 Plants a Week: Tips for a Healthier, More Diverse Diet


A study conducted by the American Gut Project in 2018 involving over 10’000 participants had some fascinating results. The aim was to better understand the gut  microbiome and its connection to health and disease. The study found that those who consumed over 30 types of plants a week had a significantly higher chance of having a healthier and more diverse microbiome then those who ate less than 10 types of plant per week.  


mix of yellow red and purple peppers

10 benefits of eating 30 plants a week


Nutrient Diversity

Each plant has a unique blend of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. By incorporating a diverse selection of plants into your diet you can be confident that you are consuming  essential nutrients necessary for overall good health.


Enhanced Antioxidant Power

Plants are rich in polyphenols and antioxidants that combat oxidative stress and inflammation. A diverse range of plants means a broader array of antioxidants, offering increased protection against cellular damage.


Gut Health Support

Different plants contain various types of fibre that nourish the gut microbiome. A diverse diet promotes a healthy balance of gut bacteria, contributing to improved digestion and a stronger immune system. 


Heart Health Benefits

Many plants, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, are known for their properties that promote good heart health. Consuming a variety of these foods can help manage cholesterol levels and support cardiovascular health.


Weight Management

A plant-rich diet tends to be lower in calories and higher in fibre, promoting a feeling of fullness. This can aid in weight management by assisting in appetite control and a reduction in cravings.


Reduced Risk of Chronic Diseases

Research suggests that a diet rich in diverse plant foods is associated with a lower risk of chronic diseases, including certain cancers, diabetes, and neurodegenerative conditions. This is due to the vast array of polyphenols and nutrient content. 


Improved Digestive Function

The combination of fibre, enzymes, and water content in different plants supports healthy digestion, alleviates constipation, and fosters a well-functioning digestive system. For those of suffer with IBS it is advised to speak to a health professional before introducing a large amount of high fibre foods into your diet. 


Mood and Cognitive Benefits

Some plants, particularly those rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and other brain-boosting nutrients, may contribute to improved mood, cognitive function, and mental well-being. Along with reducing chances of developing cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s.


Balanced Blood Sugar Levels

The fibre content in various plants helps regulate blood sugar levels, reducing the risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.


Long-Term Health and Longevity

A diet that contains a diverse number of plant-based foods has been linked to longevity and overall well-being. The combination of health-promoting compounds in different plants contributes to a resilient and healthy body, supporting a longer vibrant life. 


How Does it Work? 

To assist people in aiming to eat 30 plants a week a points system was developed. Each plant is a point but remember to focus on variety not quantity. 2 green apples is 1 point whereas 1 green apple and 1 red apple is 2 points. A serving of each type of plant is 1 point. 2 servings of the same plant is also 1 point diversity is key. 





Plants are split into six groups


Fruits 

1 medium sized fruit, or a handful of smaller fruits like berries = 1 point.

Vegetables

2 handfuls of vegetables = 1 point.

Nuts and Seeds 

2 tablespoons or  the equivalent of a small handful roughly half a palm = 1 point.

Wholegrains 

1 handfuls of cooked grains = 1 point.

Pulses and Beans 

1 handfuls of cooked beans or pulses = 1 point.

Herbs and Spices 

Due to the smaller sizes used with these the more the merrier each one = 1/4 plant point


It is important to concentrate on whole foods with fruit juice for instance due to the processed of the fruit affecting the fibre content it would not count as a plant point but is still a perfect addiction to one of your five a day. 


Snack on mixed nut and seeds along with dried fruit is a great way to add more plants into your diet. You can sprinkle nuts and seeds over vegetables, rice bowls and salad to add some texture. Add nuts, seeds and dried fruits to cereals, porridge, and yogurt for a nutritional boost or have a small handful as a snack. 


A handy tip for adding more plants to your diet is buying pre-packaged whole foods. Frozen mixed bags of vegetables or berries are a quick and convenient option. Tins of mixed beans or microwave rice and grain packets all count towards your plant points. 



Courgette Curry and Lemon Rice

30 Minutes Serves 4


Curry Ingredients

courgette curry lemon rice

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp ginger, finely chopped

1 tsp cumin seeds

1-2 red chillies, finely chopped

6 garlic cloves, minced

450g new potatoes, thickly sliced

2 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground turmeric

4 large tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 tbsp tomato purée

200ml vegetable stock

1 cinnamon stick

500g courgettes, thickly sliced

15g chopped fresh coriander


Lemon Rice

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp brown mustard seeds

240g brown basmati rice

1 tsp turmeric

400g tin chickpeas, drained

2 tbsp lemon juice


Method

Step 1

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add ginger, cumin, chilli and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, then add the potatoes, ground coriander and turmeric, and stir well. Add tomatoes, purée and stock, cinnamon, and simmer for 5 minutes.


Step 2

Stir in the courgettes, cook for 10-12 mins then stir in the fresh coriander.


Step 3

Heat oil in a large pan add rice, turmeric and 1 litre of boiling water. Cook for 15 mins, then add the chickpeas and lemon juice, cover once again, and cook for 10 mins more until the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender.


This delicious curry contains 7 plant points per serving and is a perfect addition to any diet. This meal shows that although the idea of trying to eat 30 different plants a week can be intimidating with practice it is possible.


By implementing small changes into your diet each week you’ll be surprised how quickly you hit your goal. Start small see where you are now, and each week try to add 5 more plants to your diet if that seems too much do 3. Remember you’re trying to implement long term habits to better your health and that takes time.


If you are ready to get 1-1 nutrition support by Registered Dietitian's, book a free discovery call to find out how Nutrition and Co's specialist dietitian's can help you achieve that.

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