Thursday, October 2, 2008

Where do you get your protein, calcium, Iron....from?

Where do you Get you Protein, Calcium or Iron From?

I get this question so often that I decided I needed to write an article to show just how easy it is to obtain these nutrients in any simple plant based diet. I have software on my computer that calculates how much of the RDA for each nutrient you receive in your daily diet. I decided to plug in a very simple plant based menu in the software to see if it would contain the RDA for all the necessary nutrients. I think you will be very shocked as to how easy it is to obtain all the nutrients you need from a plant based diet. Now, I must give a disclaimer here: *I don't recommend Cheerios for breakfast but it just goes to show how you can get enough nutrients even with some poor food choices.

Sample Plant Based Diet Menu

1 c. cheerios
1 c. soymilk
Green smoothie (2 c. spinach, 1 c. mango, 1 banana 3 dates 2 Tb. flax seeds blended in 1c. water)

1 oz. almonds
1 med. apple

Lunch: 1 LARGE salad--
2 c. romaine lettuce
1 c. broccoli
½ c. cauliflower
1 med. Carrot
1 Tb. sesame seeds
1 serving avocado
2 slices tomato
2 Tb. dressing

1 baked potato (no toppings) this is just for example

1 slice bread with peanut butter

Dinner: Burrito--
1 whole wheat tortilla
½ c. black beans
½ c. brown rice
½ c. corn
½ c. salsa
¼ of an avocado (guacamole)
¼ c. shredded romaine on top

Side Dishes:
½ c. of Mexican rice

Side salad:
½ c. romaine
¼ c. corn
¼ c. broccoli
¼ c. pinto beans
2 Tb. Mexican dressing

RDA's For This Menu:
Protein: 100% of RDA
Vit. A 1196%
Folic Acid 297%
Vit. B1 276%
B2 248%
B3 226%
B5 140%
B6 335%
B12 154% (this was from the fortified soymilk)
Vit. C 361%
Vit. D 79% (Vit. D needs to come from sunshine)
Vit. E 132%
Calcium: 114%
Copper 437%
Iron 185%
Magnesium 281%
Manganese 522%
Potassium 121%
Selenium 134%
Zinc 226%
Fiber 185%
Here's the killer one, The omega 3's: Omega 3's 537%

People do not realize that we only need a tiny amount of omega 3's and despite recent ADVERTISING claims, Omega 3's are found abundant enough for human needs in green leafy vegetables and other plant foods.

Interestingly, Omega 3's are found in bananas, green leafy vegetables and a whole host of plant based foods, but simply because it is such a minute amount dietitians and other so called 'experts' miss the whole point, eat a well balanced diet and it all adds up to more than enough! It isn't just about eating foods that are concentrated in one nutrient, it's about eating a balanced diet, period! Advertising hype has caused a lot of fear over protein, calcium and omega 3's but none of these fear mongering ads have any basis in truth.

Where do Omega 3's really come from? The omega 3's actually come from plant foods, interesting how people twist the truth to sell you some fish or flax oil. Did you know that fish actually get omega 3's from sea plants? It is the bottom feeder fish that consume sea vegetables that provide the omega'3s. Plants are actually the initial source for omega 3 fatty acids. I tried an even simpler diet that included the same breakfast and lunch but dinner was: baked yam, beans, corn, rice, side salad.  This is a very simple, very plain dinner but it added up to be 100% of the daily protein requirement very easily. You can do this with whole wheat spaghetti dinner or any plant based meals you consume. Getting the nutrients you need is very simple. The main point here is: If you eat a balanced diet, you will get all the nutrients your body requires!

You can't eat brown rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner and get the nutrients you need, but who wants to do that? I could have eaten significantly less food and still I would have consumed adequate amounts of all the nutrients, including the much feared calcium! Protein consumption in this country is HIGHLY over-rated and therefore I could in reality consume quite a bit less than the RDA and I would still have excellent muscle tone and be in perfect health.

But regardless I am still able to meet the RDA without any animal products whatsoever. So lets look at a typical 'Healthy' Standard American Diet and see what we come up with:

**I say healthy simply because general society would consider this the 'healthy' way to eat. I personally think this is a very poor diet.

'Healthy' American Diet

1 c. cheerios
1 c. reduced fat milk

2 slices bread
2 slices turkey breast
1 slice tomato
¼ c. romaine lettuce
2 Tb. mayonnaise

Side Salad:
1 c. romaine lettuce
¼ c. broccoli
shredded carrot
tomato slice
2 Tb. salad dressing

Snack: 20 corn chips

1 chicken breast
2 oz. cheese
1 baked potato
2 Tb. sour cream
1 c. steamed broccoli

**Let me explain my choices for this menu. First of all I kept the sour cream and cheese to a 'standard' serving. I realize many people eat more than this but that leads to excessive consumption of saturated fat, cholesterol, hormones and other toxins.

I kept this to the standard serving size for each food. Americans typically eat TOO much of the wrong foods. **You may contend that I could simply add more dairy products or meat to get the protein and calcium, interesting but then I would simply be adding more saturated fat, cholesterol and lack of fiber when it is already well above the recommended amount as simply can't win when you rely on meat and dairy for protein and calcium.

You'd be surprised how fast the cholesterol and 59 active hormones in dairy can add up in a few simple condiments.

RDA's For This Menu:
Protein 94% (I bet this shocks you doesn't it)
Carbohydrates 36% ( this can cause severe fatigue and is dangerously low)
Fat 185% (too much fat)
Vit A 341%
Folic Acid 162%
B1 110%
B2 161%
B3 170%
B5 102%
B6 167%
B12 178% (not a whole lot higher than plant based with soymilk)
Vit. C 210%
Vit. D 20% (much lower than plant based menu)
Vit. E 43%
Calcium 92% (Surprising I know)
Copper 128%
Iron 111%
Magnesium 75%
Manganese 118%
Phosphorus 173%
Potassium 55%
Selenium 131%
Zinc 147%
Saturated Fat: 115% (too much saturated fat)
Omega 3 216%
Cholesterol 193 mg. (we don't need any)
Fiber 85% (this can cause severe constipation the RDA on this is actually too low)

Who is Deficient?

So does that surprise you? I bet you thought that with the sour cream, cows milk, mayonnaise and cheese that this menu would contain more calcium. The other factor to remember is that only 30% of cows milk calcium is bio-available. There is a current trend arguing that because beans and some leafy greens contain phytates and oxylates this binds with calcium or zinc and therefore those who eat a plant based diet do not obtain enough of these nutrients. What about Phytates and Oxilates?

**It is important to realize that in this menu example we obtained 185% of the daily value of iron and 226% of the daily value of zinc. So if the phytates were able to bind with HALF of these minerals we would still be absorbing the RDA of these minerals. In reality phytates do not actually bind with 50% of these minerals but just as an example you can see how ridiculous the claim is that those on a plant based diet do not obtain enough. As far as oxilates are concerned they will bind with some calcium, not much, but again in our menu we obtained 114% of the RDA and so even with some calcium being bound by oxilates we would still obtain the RDA. It is important to note also that the RDA for calcium is inflated to account for calcium losses most Americans experience as the result of excess animal protein consumption, which we know causes calcium to be leeched from the bones. **Notice that the plant based diet provided more of almost EVERY SINGLE nutrient!

** It is also important to mention that the SAD diet is VERY poor in providing adequate antioxidants and phytonutrients known to :
inhibit cancer growth
prevent age related macular degeneration
support prostate health
reduce cataract formation
neutralize free radicals
prevent oxidation which can lead to heart disease
improve immune function
among a host of other health benefits.

Next time anyone asks you where you get your protein, calcium, zinc etc. pull out this chart and then ASK THEM where they get their protein, calcium etc. Lets make a Direct nutritional comparison between these two diets so you can see that a plant based diet is far superior!

Plant Based Diet: SAD Diet
Protein: ......100%.............. ..94%
Vit. A ......1196%.......... 341%
Folic Acid ...297%......... 162%
Vit. B1 ....276%............ 110%
B2 ..........248%............. 161%
B3 ...........226%............ 170%
B5 ..........140%............. 102%
B6 ...........335% ............167%
B12 ..........154%........... 178%
Vit. C ........361%........... 210%
Vit. D ..........79% .............20%
Vit. E .........132% .............43%
Calcium:..... 114%............. 92%
Copper .......437%............128%
Iron .............185%............111%
Magnesium ...281%........... 75%
Manganese ...522% .........118%
Phosphorus ...251%........ .173%
Potassium..... 121% ...........55%
Selenium .......134% ..........131%
Zinc .............226%............ 147%
Omega 3's... 537%.............216%
Choesterol .......0 ...............193mg

The ONLY nutrient higher in the SAD diet is B12!

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