I’ve worked with a massive number of both seasoned and newly minted plant-based eaters over the span of my career as a private practice dietitian.
There is little question that the increasing considerations around economics, ethics and the environment are among the many drivers that play a role in nudging people into considering diets more heavily rooted in plant-based foods.
Some nuance and strategy is often required to fully optimize a plant-based diet for the average person, but perhaps even more so for those who may be either trialing or engaging in a FODMAP-restricted diet – which is most often utilized in the context of IBS management.
Low FODMAP eating can pose an additional challenge for plant-based eaters because they rely on a smaller core group of available foods to provide their essential nutrients, a group which may be further restricted due to FODMAP avoidance.
With that in mind, today’s article will outline various key groupings of foods for plant-based eaters and identify which choices within each category are low in FODMAPs.
Those who are newer to plant-based nutrition will also learn a thing or two about how a dietitian like myself breaks down the key nutrients for his clients.
Let’s get right to it.
Low FODMAP For Plant-Based Eaters
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: The good news here is that the primary plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids including flax, hemp seeds, chia, walnuts and edamame are all considered low FODMAP foods at the described serving size.
Protein + Iron: This is where it can get a bit interesting because the pool of foods that plant-based eaters rely on for iron & protein isn’t as abundant as it is for omnivores.
Let’s go through the low FODMAP options that are available:
- Soy- Tofu, tempeh and edamame are all low FODMAP sources of iron and protein.
- Legumes - Canned lentils are the lowest FODMAP conventional legume option whereas canned chickpeas and boiled red/green lentils are considered “medium” FODMAP selections.
- Nuts/Seeds - Certain types of nuts/seeds have an above average amount of protein, and many of the ones that fall into this category are low FODMAP – they include peanuts, brazil nuts, walnuts, chia/sesame/flax/sunflower seeds.
I will also give an honorable mention to quinoa which does not fit into the categories above but does share some of their characteristics, including being low FODMAP.
Vitamin C: Among the endless amount of useful compounds found within fruits and vegetables, Vitamin C is worthy of extra consideration because it helps enhance the absorption of iron found in plant-based foods.
In my professional experience I’ve encountered a large number of seasoned plant-based eaters who were not aware of this relationship.
If you are one of them, you can utilize this scientific knowledge by consuming some of the Vitamin C-rich foods listed below in the same meal as the iron-rich foods listed above.
- Fruit – Clementine, kiwi, mandarin, oranges, pineapple, raspberry, strawberry and tangerines are among conventional choices that are low FODMAP and high in Vitamin C.
- Veggies- broccoli (heads only), bok choy, kale, bell pepper and tomato are conventional choices that are low FODMAP and high in Vitamin C.
Calcium – Calcium is surely another nutrient of interest for plant-based eaters and many of the foods already discussed including soy, nuts/seeds, legumes and certain fruits/veggies are all meaningful plant-based sources.
In terms of foods that are traditionally fortified with calcium – almond milk, rice milk and soy milk made from soy protein are all low FODMAP and potentially high calcium foods (again, if fortified).
These milk products also tend to be fortified with B12, another nutrient of interest for plant-based eaters.
Putting It All Together
Today’s article has given you a sampling of the low FODMAP foods that are fundamentally most important for plant-based eaters while also providing a fair amount of useful information for optimal plant-based nutrition.
Please do keep in mind there is quite a bit of nuance involved in the various stages of a low FODMAP diet and further information, ideally in the form of professional support, would certainly enhance anyone’s ability to properly implement some of the key tidbits shared in today’s post.