The American Dietetic Association has finally conceded—a vegetarian diet can supply all the necessary dietary ingredients to maintain health. The prestigious Mayo Clinic endorses a plant-based diet. More and more researchers, physicians and nutritionists are beginning to echo the same “Go plant-based!” Eating a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts will prevent many diseases and cause others to disappear, largely through anti-inflammatory properties.
A plant-based diet assures one of getting the most antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals with the least amount of calories. Talk about eye-popping appeal to stimulate the appetite! Those brightly colored plant pigments of red, orange, yellow, blue, deep-green, have an added bonus – they fight disease! All of these beautiful pigments are abundant in health-giving phytochemicals!
Worried about Protein? Don’t be. It can be obtained from many sources other than risky, often disease-ridden meat. Peas and a variety of beans are excellent sources, especially when combined with a whole grain such as brown rice, whole wheat, oats or corn. Nuts are also rich in protein, but eat them sparingly. A cup of vegetarian baked beans has a whopping 12 grams of protein! Even vegetables such as broccoli and potatoes contain protein. A diet high in meat and cheese provides too much protein, which along with animal fat, stimulates atherosclerosis leading to heart disease. Large quantities of protein can also overwork the kidneys and produce kidney disease.
Carbohydrates contain the energy for every day optimum work performance. High carb foods are energy foods. However, eliminate the “bad carbs” – table sugar, refined grains like white rice and white flour, desserts, sweetened cereals, and pastries. Oust candies and soft drinks from the diet. Complex carbohydrates – “good carbs” – are the best. Good sources include potatoes, brown rice, whole grain breads and whole grain cereals.
Avoid bad fats. Lard, shortening, butter, fish, meat, poultry, margarine, fried foods, cream, mayonnaise and cheese are not needed and contain harmful fats. Avocado, olives, seeds, and nuts contain healthy fats. Omega 3 fats are very healthy – found in walnuts and ground flax seeds.
Fiber is like scrub brushes in our body to keep our digestive system clean and functioning well. Whole plant foods are high in fiber! Meats, milk products, and refined foods have no fiber and tend to clog the digestive system, leading to disease. Research has shown that a high fiber diet decreases the risk of many forms of cancer and heart attacks.
Sodium! Very salty foods such as meat products, pickles, canned foods, baked goods with baking soda or baking powder, and even many breakfast cereals promote high blood pressure and heart disease. Try to limit salt in your diet. A little salt is good.
What should I eat? Whole plant foods are bursting with nutrition! (Nutrient dense and calorie shy) Every day we should enjoy liberal portions of vegetables and fruit. Eat whole grains. Nothing is lost by refining and help prevent overeating and obesity as they are much more satisfying. Legumes and nuts replace meat and cheese.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! A good breakfast should contain the most calories of any meal. Choose foods high in protein and complex carbohydrates. Don’t forget the fruit. Try to eat a good lunch and a very light supper. This will give you energy for the day and a better night of rest.
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