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Old 10-10-2008, 02:27 PM   #1
Carol
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Default Getting the most out of a vegetarian diet

Getting the most out of a vegetarian diet.

Potential pitfalls of a vegetarian diet are a lack of protein, calcium, iron, zinc, and Vitamin B12. Use the following nutrition information to ensure that you don't get foiled!

(1) Focus on Protein Powerhouses
Replacing meat with cheese means that you miss out on the iron and zinc found in significant amounts in meat. Replacing meat with more vegetables, rice or pasta will not cover all your nutrient needs either. Make sure that you learn to LOVE your LEGUMES! Although these plant sources of protein do not contain the complete array of amino acids that you need, to ensure a full complement of protein each day all you need to do is to combine different types of plant foods. Combine legumes such as kidney beans, lentils and chickpeas with grains (e.g. rice, bread) or seeds. This way the variety of amino acids in the foods complement one another and create complete proteins. Any plant food combined with eggs or dairy products will also give you complete protein. This combining of foods does not have to be done at the same meal. Just ensure that by the end of the day you have combined different types of plant foods into your diet.

Protein Powerhouses!

Grains Chickpeas Grains + Legumes Rice Nuts or Seeds
Wheat Whole grain bread + baked beans Nut butters
Barley Barley and lentil Almonds
Rice vegetable soup Sunflower seeds Grains + Nuts/Seeds
Kasha Brown rice + Tofu vegetable Peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat bread
Amaranth Legumes stir fry Kasha Granola + Nuts/seeds Rice + Sunflower seeds + vegetable stirfry
Baked beans cereal with enriched soy milk
Lentils, peas Amaranth and wheat chapatis + Dahl Grains
Tofu Wheat
Soya milk Oatmeal

(2) Bone Up on Calcium and Vitamin D
Dairy products are our primary source of calcium and Vitamin D, important for strong bones and teeth, prevention of osteoporosis and general health. If you eliminate dairy products from your diet, include alternative sources of calcium (see chart). If you do replace cow's milk with soy beverages make sure that they are fortified with calcium, zinc, Vitamins A, D and B12. And remember that citrus foods are rich in Vitamin C - this helps your body to absorb even more calcium. So combine vitamin C rich foods such as oranges, grapefruits, strawberries, and cantaloupe with your vegetarian sources of calcium to maximize the absorption.

Vegeterian Sources of Calcium

Calcium fortified soy beverages
Tofu processed with calcium (check the label)
Okra, kale, collards, mustard and turnip greens
Broccoli, Bok Choy
Kidney beans, Navy beans, Chickpeas
Sunflower seeds and sesame seeds
Tahini
Blackstap molasses
Dried figs and dates
Almonds
(3) Meet Your Iron Needs
All diets need to provide us with a sufficient number of iron-rich foods. Plant sources of iron are called "non-heme" iron, and are not absorbed as well as the "heme" sources of iron found in animal foods. Non-meat eaters, especially active, menstruating women need to pay attention to their dietary iron needs. Consuming foods rich in vitamin C with any iron rich food will improve its absorption. Top sources of iron for the vegetarian athlete include legumes, dark leafy green vegies, dried fruits, whole grains, iron enriched breads and cereals.

Non heme sources of iron for the vegeterians among us! Maximize absorption by consuming with/in: Bran flakes cereal, wheat germ Strawberries Whole wheat bread Orange juice Enriched pasta Tomato sauce Raw spinach Lemon slices Raisins, figs, apricots Fruit salad with cantaloupe & strawberries Tofu Tomato and red pepper stir fry Lentils Tomato vegetable lentil soup Cashews, sunflower and sesame seeds Tossed salad with cashew nuts, sunflower and sesame seeds sprinkled on top Kidney beans, pinto beans, chickpeas Tomato based chili

(4) Get sufficient Vitamin B-12
This B vitamin is available ONLY in animal products or fermented plant foods. Fermented foods such as miso and tempeh give us some B12 but generally not enough and the amount of B12 in these foods tends to be variable. The most reliable source of vitamin B-12 for the vegan diet is nutritional yeast that is grown on a vitamin B-12 enriched medium (e.g. Red Star brand). Vegans need to make sure to use vitamin B-12 fortified foods (such as enriched soy beverages) or supplements to ensure adequate intake. For those of you who may be selectively choosing some animal products to include in your diet, milk and milk products, eggs and fish are all excellent sources of vitamin B-12. Talk to your doctor about having your blood levels checked regularly for Vitamin B12.

(5) Boost up your Zinc Intake!
Limiting your food choices in any eating plan can make getting enough zinc quite a challenge! Try to use the following foods as a regular part of your diet:

Vegetarian Zinc Boosters

Tofu, tempeh, texturized vegetable protein
Legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans and lima beans
Grains such as oatmeal, millet, wheat germ and fortified cereals
Nuts such as cashews, peanuts and pecans
Milk, yoghurt and cheese
Eggs
Brewers yeast
Avocados, green peas
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