Nuts, seeds, beans are good steps toward a plant-based diet

A plant-based diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy plant oils can help men stay healthy and ward off heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, and other chronic conditions. Adding fresh fruits and vegetables is a no-brainer for adopting a plant-based diet, but don't neglect nuts and seeds along with beans and other legumes, recommends the December 2014 Harvard Men's Health Watch.

Choosing the right portions is important, too. Nuts and seeds are rich in vegetable oils, which pack nine calories per gram. That means eating too many nuts and seeds in a day can deliver an overload of calories.

But it doesn't pay to obsess over exact portions. A handful of nuts can be a healthy "dose" on a morning bowl of cereal, yogurt, or oatmeal, as is a heaping tablespoon of sunflower or chia seeds. A handful of cooked beans on a salad is also a healthy meal-enhancer.

Add nuts, seeds, beans and other legumes gradually while moving toward a more plant-based dietary pattern, recommends registered dietitian Kathy McManus, director of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital. One way is to add them into foods or meals you already enjoy and know how to cook. To get the full benefit of a plant-based diet, substitute plant-based proteins for red and processed meat.

Read the full-length article: "Plant-based diets: Nuts, seeds, and legumes can help get you there"