Ask the Expert: General Nutrition
Q: If a completely plant-based isn’t possible for me, is it ok if I can at least eliminate red meat and cheese and eat a low-fat diet with egg whites, chicken, fish, and skim milk in addition to lots of fruits and vegetables?
A low-fat, completely vegan diet is the healthiest diet of all. It's naturally high in fiber, low in fat, and cholesterol-free—three proven means to reduce cancer risk. Eliminating red meat and cheese is a start. However, you’ll want to go one step further, and base your diet on whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruit. You'll get much higher doses of cancer fighting vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals. Although often lower in fat, skim milk, egg whites, chicken, and fish contain high amounts of cholesterol and other harmful compounds, so they should be avoided completely. An easy way to shift to a completely plant-based diet is to do it 100% for three solid weeks. It will take your body that amount of time to adjust to new flavors and tastes and get used to not having some of the foods you’ve been eating all your life. Those 21 days will fly by, and when you reach the end of three weeks, evaluate how you feel—you’ll realize that you feel a lot better, lighter, and that you don’t miss the high-fat foods you had been used to.