What you put in your mouth is a huge factor in maintaining your health, but what do you need to eat to stay healthy?

There are many reasons to stimulate a more plant-based diet. It’s better for your health, better for the environment and it’s better for the economy.

Lower blood pressure

Lots of research, including some from the Harvard School of Public Health, suggests a diet loaded with fruits and veggies can lower blood pressure. About 1 in 3 American adults suffers from high blood pressure, meaning they're at higher risk of heart disease and stroke two of the leading causes of death in the United States.

Dietary guidelines

Studies supporting the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet led to the emphasis on plant-based foods in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, according to Linda Van Horn, professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine who chaired the dietary guidelines advisory committee. Those guidelines, which are released every five years by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, showed that we're filling up on the wrong things. Consuming, for example, nearly triple the recommended limit of solid fats and added sugars while getting only 15 percent of the whole grains and 59 percent of the vegetables we need.

‘Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants’

This is one of the most famous quotes of food writer Michael Pollan. He says that plants are the richest, most bountiful sources of vitamins and minerals as well as fiber. Pollan: ‘They contain hundreds of thousands of phytochemicals, and many of these contain disease-fighting properties that a laboratory can’t duplicate. Just about anybody can add more plants to their plate. Add fruit to breakfast, a leafy green and one other vegetable to lunch, and a leafy green and three other vegetables to dinner.’

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Photo: Wendy Nelson