The benefits of vegetarian diets are much greater for men than women Picture: File image
Man up, gents! No more feeding broccoli to the dog or hiding your lettuce under your napkin - it’s time to get healthy and really improve your life.

According to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, “the benefits of vegetarian diets are much greater for men than women. Piling up on veggies can help men prevent heart disease, some kinds of cancer, Type 2 diabetes and obesity. Plant-based diets also prolong life!”

Another study, published in PLOS Medicine, adds that a diet rich in vegetables and fruits can have a positive effect upon blood sugar, which can help keep appetite in check.

Eating non-starchy vegetables and fruits like apples, pears and green, leafy vegetables may even promote weight loss.

Ahead of Men’s Awareness Month (June) - aimed at encouraging men to focus on self-care and a healthy lifestyle - health fundis advise that men should take this time to make their holistic health a priority, especially their diet.

Influencers and celebrities have jumped on the green-only health wagon, among them jazz musician Bheki Khoza, author and poet Zakes Mda and lifestyle blogger Lee Fraser.

Experts say variety and colour are key to a healthy diet.

On most days, try to get at least one serving from each of the following categories; dark green, leafy vegetables, yellow or orange fruits and vegetables, red fruits and vegetables, legumes (beans) and peas, and citrus fruits.

This green trend does not come as a new concept in South Africa. Plant-based and vegan diets have been a fast-growing health trend.

Speaking to Animal Rights Watch US, Anna Jordan, director of the SA Vegan Society, agreed that more South Africans are making the transition to a vegan diet.

For years, Green Monday has been a food resolution that many people have been able to follow.

This global movement, promoted by Humane Society International/Africa, encourages South Africans to swop the meat, eggs and dairy on their plates for plant-based alternatives, one day every week.

Local restaurants, food brands, government departments, educational institutions and other leaders of the industry have already joined the movement and implemented green campaigns for 2018.

If men are eating green food, protein replacements may include, pumpkin seeds, lentils, almonds, sesame seeds, cashews and mushrooms.

Mushroom expert Dr Martmari van Greuning, who serves on the council of the South African Mushroom Farmers’ Association believes that the power of protein in mushrooms should not be underestimated.

“It’s the type of protein found in mushrooms more than the quantity that should be considered,” she says.

Van Greuning explained that the common protein found in mushrooms is lectin.