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What are plant points?

Mixed salad with fermented vegetables raw kimchi

You might have noticed this term being used more and more by those advocating for eating more plants and talking about eating 30 or more plant points each week as a way to improve gut health. And that's what we're looking at in this blog. So, let's start with the basics, what is a plant point?

A plant point is a point given to anything eaten that is plant based. For example, if I was to eat a salad with lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes that would count as 3 plant points.

Here are the types of foods that count as one whole point (although this is by no means exhaustive!):

VEGE – Tomatoes, mushrooms, broccoli, pepper, sweetcorn, spinach, potato, onion, peas, carrot, leek, swede, aubergine.

FRUIT – Grapes, apricot, strawberries, watermelon, blueberries, raspberries, apple, banana, orange, kiwi, cherries, plum.

WHOLEGRAINS – Oats, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, wholewheat flour.

LEGUMES, NUTS & SEEDS – Chickpeas, lentils, tinned beans, pack of seeds, pack of nuts (mixed for extra points!)

OILS - sunflower, rapeseed, olive, walnut.

Herbs and spices do count too, but for a quarter point each.

But where did this come from?

The idea behind plant points came from research done as part of the American Gut Project, which is a very cool study where individuals send in their poop and details of their diet and lifestyle and researchers analyse the results to try and tease out patterns and associations between the two.

What they found is that people who eat 30 or more different types of plants per week have a more diverse gut microbiome than those who eat 10 or less per week. They also found that those eating a wider variety of plants had a greater proportion of bacteria that produce beneficial compounds called short chain fatty acids (SCFA).

The 5 a day recommendation is great but aiming for diversity over a week is more likely to help you get variety into your diet. After all you could be ticking your 5 a day box by eating the same 5 fruit and vegetable every single day. We're complex beings since we're made up not just of human cells but also microbial cells which all need a huge variety of different nutrients to stay healthy. We like to think of plant points as a way to take care of the microbes that live in our gut, like a pet they need to be taken care of and this is one way we can do just that!

So how do we eat 30 plant points in real life?!

So you might have seen this one coming but we think a great way to hit that plant point target is to add fermented vegetables (yup, just like the ones we make!) to your diet.

Here's a breakdown of all of our core krauts and kimchis and the number of points they'd give you:

As you can see our ferments vary in plant points, but adding either of our kimchis to your plate adds a whopping 7.5 points alone. Gut-friendly fermented vegetables are an easy and speedy way to up your plant point count!

And here's an example of a meal I made that's absolutely packed with plant points! This is a thali I made ☝️ (basically a platter of various curries). This main meal contains 8 plant points alone plus with my side of kraut and kimchi that's 18 points. Then with my lime drink and this fruit dessert that's a total of 23 points, just for one meal!

Other ways to add more variety of plants without obsessing over numbers include...

  • Adding fresh or dried fruit to your breakfast cereal

  • Topping salads, curries or soups with toasted nuts and seeds

  • Trying out one new fruit or vegetable when you're at the shops

  • Adding tinned or dried pulses to soups, stews and tomato sauces

  • Using a greater variety of fresh and dried herbs to meals

The great thing about 'plant points' and '5 a day' is that you don't necessarily have to change everything you do. Some simple swaps or additions to your plate and even just being conscious of what you're eating on daily basis can make a huge difference.

I hope this was helpful and encouraging for those of you on your food journeys. Check out our other blogs for more inspiration to attain those plant points!


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