Tag Archives: vegetarian

Plant-based diet yields cardiometabolic health benefits -MNT

I was a vegetarian in my younger days. I lasted for about five years. In those days, there wasn’t the same level of consciousness or acceptance of this kind of diet that there is now. Although I left vegetarianism, I have continued to limit the amount of red meat I consume. I also eat a lot of fish and seeds and nuts for protein sources.

Medical News Today reports that plant-based eating patterns continue to soar in popularity and a group of nutrition researchers outline the science behind this sustainable trend in a review paper, entitled “Cardiometabolic benefits of plant-based diets,” which appears as an online advance in Nutrients. The review will publish in a future special edition, entitled “The Science of Vegetarian Nutrition and Health.”

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The review outlines how a plant-based diet, which is naturally low in calories, saturated fat, and cholesterol, and rich in nutrients, like fiber and antioxidants, could be one tool, in addition to adopting a healthful lifestyle, used to improve nutrition intake and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

 

The authors, Hana Kahleova, M.D., Ph.D., Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., and Neal Barnard, M.D., F.A.C.C., analyzed clinical research studies and reviews published until May 2017. Their research finds a plant-based diet, built around vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes, can improve nutrient intake and help manage body weight and glycemic control, improve cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and reverse atherosclerosis, or the narrowing of the arteries caused by the accumulation of arterial plaque.

“The future of health care starts on our plates,” says Dr. Kahleova, the lead study author and the director of clinical research at the nonprofit Physicians Committee. “The science clearly shows food is medicine, which is a powerful message for physicians to pass on to their patients and for policymakers to consider as they propose modifications for health care reform and discuss potential amendment to the 2018 Farm Bill.”

To understand the health benefits of a plant-based diet, the researchers analyze its structure:

Fiber

Fiber contributes to bulk in the diet without adding digestible calories, thus leading to satiety and weight loss. Additionally, soluble fiber binds with bile acids in the small intestines, which helps reduce cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar.

Plant-Based Rx: Aim to eat at least 35 grams of dietary fiber a day. The average American consumes 16 grams of dietary fiber each day.

Fats

Plant-based diets are lower in saturated fat and dietary cholesterol. Replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats can increase insulin sensitivity, a risk factor for metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

Plant-Based Rx: Swap meat and dairy products, oils, and high-fat processed foods for smaller portions of plant staples, like a few avocado slices or a small handful of nuts and seeds, which are rich in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.

Plant Protein

Vegetable proteins reduce the concentrations of blood lipids, reduce the risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease, and may have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects.

Plant-Based Rx: Legumes, or lentils, beans, and peas, are naturally rich in protein and fiber. Try topping leafy green salads with lentils, black beans, edamame, or chickpeas.

Plant Sterols

Plant sterols that have a structure similar to that of cholesterol reduce cardiovascular disease risk and mortality, have anti-inflammatory effects, and positively affect coagulation, platelet function and endothelial function, which helps reduce blood clots, increases blood flow, and stabilizes glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Plant-Based Rx: Consume a high intake of antioxidants and micronutrients, including plant sterols, from whole plant foods, like vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, beans, and seeds. A plant-based diet supports cardio-metabolic benefits through several independent mechanisms. The synergistic effect of whole plant foods may be greater than a mere additional effect of eating isolated nutrients.

“To make significant health changes, we have to make significant diet changes,” concludes Dr. Kahleova. “A colorful plant-based diet works well for anyone, whether you’re an athlete looking to boost energy, performance, and recovery by enabling a higher efficiency of blood flow, which equates to oxygen conversion, or if you’re a physician who wants to help patients lose extra weight, lower blood pressure, and improve their cholesterol.”

Dr. Kahleova and the study authors recommend using a plant-based diet as an effective tool to treat and prevent cardiometaoblic disease, which they would like to see promoted through future dietary guidelines and nutrition policy recommendations.

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Less meat, more plant-based protein may prolong your life – JAMA

In my youth, I became a vegetarian for a period of about five years. In that time, I tipped the scales in the high 140 pound bracket (I was around 5’11” at the time). I did yoga most days and felt like a million dollars. Those days are past (I am now down to around 5’9-1/2″) and I ride my bike pretty much daily for exercise. I eat meat sparingly, because of the fats. So, I was not surprised to see the latest from the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“Eating more protein from plant sources was associated with a lower risk of death and eating more protein from animals was associated with a higher risk of death, especially among adults with at least one unhealthy behavior such as smoking, drinking and being overweight or sedentary, according to an article published online by JAMA Internal Medicine.

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“The consideration of food sources is critical to better understanding the health effects of eating protein and fine-tuning dietary recommendations. Continue reading

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Vegetarian Diets and Older Women

One of the main advantages of a well-planned plant-based diet is its rich nutrient profile, which may be even more important for older women. “Vegetarians eat more fiber and less saturated fat and have diets that are richer in antioxidants, so there are some definite advantages to eating this way as we age,” Messina says.

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Sharon Palmer, RD wrote in Today’s Dietitian …..

Vegetarian diets carry risks for older women. This assumption may be common regarding the appropriateness of plant-based diets for women as they age, even among health care professionals. Yet it hasn’t kept older women—even celebrities such as Mary Tyler Moore and Michelle Pfeiffer—from flocking to vegetarian and vegan diets. Indeed, according to a 2012 poll by The Vegetarian Resource Group, 4% of adults (both men and women) aged 45 to 54 are vegetarian or vegan—the same rate as observed in the general population—and 3% of adults aged 55 and older are vegetarian or vegan.

It’s true that older women have important nutrition concerns, such as maintaining a healthy weight, protecting bones, and warding off heart disease. But that doesn’t mean a plant-based diet is off limits for these women. In fact, this style of eating may be beneficial for older women. The…

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Vegetarian Diets May Lower Blood Pressure

High blood pressure contributes to a person’s risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disorders and other health problems. For many people, the only treatment has been medication, but that means costs and possible side effects, lead author Yoko Yokoyama told Reuters Health in an email.

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People who eat a vegetarian diet tend to have lower blood pressure than non-vegetarians, according to a new review of past studies.

Researchers said for some people, eating a vegetarian diet could be a good way to treat high blood pressure without medication.

Vegetarian diets exclude meat, but may include dairy products, eggs and fish in some cases. They emphasize foods of plant origin, particularly vegetables, grains, legumes and fruits.

High blood pressure contributes to a person’s risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disorders and other health problems. For many people, the only treatment has been medication, but that means costs and possible side effects, lead author Yoko Yokoyama told Reuters Health in an email.

“If a diet change can prevent blood pressure problems or can reduce blood pressure, it would give hope to many people,” Yokoyama said. She is a researcher at the National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center in…

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What is a Tasty Summer Salad? Mr. Lazy Cook

As the heat of summer approaches it is nice to have some simple go-to meals that satisfy our nutritional needs that at the same time taste great. I consider my Avocado Walnut Summer Salad to be just such a thing.

I lived in London some years ago on a one-year assignment with Reuters. I stumbled across the basis of this salad there. Several restaurants that I frequented served a salad consisting  of a half avocado, pitted, and filled with salad dressing. That’s it. It tasted delicious and I ordered it often.

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I alluded to this salad when I wrote up the benefits of avocados back in February.

A good friend of mine has since added the excellent element of an ounce of chopped walnuts to the mix. You can read more about the nutritional benefits of walnuts in the previous post.

To make this salad, remove the pit of a ripe avocado, clean out the meat, slice up and place in a salad bowl, drop in an ounce of chopped walnuts and cover with salad dressing. Voila! Instant delicious summer salad.

Nutritionally:
The walnuts contribute:
Calories 185
Fat 18.5 grams
Saturated fat 1.7 g
No Cholesterol
Sodium 1 mg
Fiber 1.9 grams
Protein 4.3 grams

The avocado yields:
Calories 161
Fat 15 grams
Saturated fat 2.1 g
No Cholesterol
Sodium 7 mg
Fiber 7 grams
Protein 2 grams

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I consider this to be a really good high energy salad with all that fat. Remember, fat, per se, is not bad, but there are bad fats. The fats in walnuts and avocados are not bad fats. There is also nearly nine grams of fiber in this which comes to about a quarter of a day’s needs. Many people have a hard time consuming the 40 grams of fiber necessary each day for good health. If this has piqued your appetite for more info on good fats, check out Why should I try coconut oil? It might open your mind as well as your arteries.

I didn’t include the salad dressing because that will vary with the person making the salad. I use two tablespoons of the light stuff that comes to around 20 calories per tablespoon.

Let me know what you think of this.

Tony

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Mr. Lazy Cook Makes Pasta Hawaiian Style

What is Hawaiian style Pasta? In  the case of Mr. Lazy Cook it is something he concocted for a friend when she told him she was allergic to olive oil. After all, what goes better with pasta than olive oil?

This is a simple variation on my recipe for shrimp pasta.
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I use the Pasta Boat to cook my pasta. I wrote up my purchase of it
a while back. Whatever way you make your pasta, this recipe starts with it in the cooked form.

I wrote up coconut oil less than a month ago and have integrated this very healthful ingredient into my cooking and my life. I know the cliche about saturated fat, but please read my blog post on it before jumping to judgment.

Okay, let’s make some Hawaiian Style Pasta.

Take a serving of the cooked pasta, instead of olive oil, add coconut oil to taste. Mix well.

Cut up some pineapple wheels. I have a store that sells fresh cored pineapple and keep on in my fridge at all times. I probably eat about one to two pineapples a week, just cutting wheels off it and snacking. (A wheel of pineapple amounts to 42 calories. Just out of the fridge I prefer it to ice cream.).

Depending on how many you are cooking for, I suggest about one wheel per serving. Remember a serving size of pasta is around a cup full. Pasta is a high calorie dish so you need to be vigilant about this. (In the bad old days when I was overweight, I naively thought a serving of pasta was a plateful. No wonder I was heavy!)

I cut each wheel into around eight to 10 pieces. Mix these into the serving of pasta and microwave for around a minute, depending on your microwave.

When this comes out of the microwave, I top it with parmesan cheese and serve it up.

I thought it tasted great. Not like any pasta I could remember. The coconut oil also adds a nice flavor element.

One serving of pasta amounts to 200 calories, one wheel of pineapple 42 calories and two teaspoons of coconut oil 87 calories, so one serving of this Hawaiian Style pasta amounts to 329 calories.

Tony

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Tips on Eliminating Meat from your Diet – Mayo Clinic

I haven’t eliminated meat from my diet, but I have cut back sharply. If you are considering either going without meat, or cutting way back, you have probably wondered about what you will be missing in nutrition. Well, Dr. Robert Sheeler, Medical Editor of the Mayo Clinic Health Letter offered some worthwhile tips for just such a situation.

” … if you eliminate or markedly reduce only the meat in your diet, but still consume animal products such as dairy and eggs, and a wide variety of plant-based foods, you should have no problem getting adequate protein, iron, calcium and vitamin B-12.

Not so much ...

Not so much …

“Even a vegan diet — which eliminates all animal-based foods, including dairy and eggs — provides adequate protein and iron if you get enough calories and eat a variety of foods, including soy products, legumes, lentils, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and dark green leafy vegetables.

“The only true nutritional issues for those who adopt a balanced vegan diet are:
•    Calcium — If you don’t consume dairy products, a calcium supplement may be necessary. Other calcium sources include fortified products such as some types of tofu, soy milk, breakfast cereal and fruit juice. Dark green vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli, also contain calcium.

•    Vitamin B-12 — Some foods, such as breakfast cereals, are fortified with vitamin B-12. Still, you may need to take a vitamin supplement to get this important nutrient.
The key to a healthy meatless diet, like any diet, is to enjoy a variety of foods. No single food can provide all the nutrients your body needs.

“Want more great health information? Visit the store now to see the latest products from Mayo Clinic doctors, specialists and editorial staff.”

Tony

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New Understanding of Cardiovascular Health Benefits of Vegan, Vegetarian Diets

While carnitine is naturally occurring in red meats, including beef, venison, lamb, mutton, duck, and pork, it’s also a dietary supplement available in pill form and a common ingredient in energy drinks. With this new research in mind, Hazen cautions that more research needs to be done to examine the safety of chronic carnitine supplementation.

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A compound abundant in red meat and added as a supplement to popular energy drinks has been found to promote atherosclerosis – or the hardening or clogging of the arteries – according to Cleveland Clinic research published online this week in the journal Nature Medicine.

The study shows that bacteria living in the human digestive tract metabolize the compound carnitine, turning it into trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO), a metabolite the researchers previously linked in a 2011 study to the promotion of atherosclerosis in humans. Further, the research finds that a diet high in carnitine promotes the growth of the bacteria that metabolize carnitine, compounding the problem by producing even more of the artery-clogging TMAO.

The research team was led by Stanley Hazen, MD, Ph D, Vice Chair of Translational Research for the Lerner Research Institute and section head of Preventive Cardiology & Rehabilitation in the Miller Family Heart and Vascular Institute…

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Mr. Lazy Cook Tweaks a Meal

Since I started writing this blog, I have made some major and minor changes in my life, exercise and eating habits. In this, the second month of my fourth year of blogging, I am down 15 pounds from where I started the blog and 70 pounds from my worst weight and physical condition ever. You can see me at my worst in the post How I Lost 50 Pounds in 52 Weeks.

My latest tweak is to stop eating a half slice of pizza daily at lunch. I am trying to cut back on the gluten and dairy I consume because I think I may have a food sensitivity to them and they are aggravating my arthritis and post nasal drip.

The idea hit me at Costco

The idea hit me at Costco

So, I am now eating a salad at lunch along with my high fiber parfait. One of the things that has always given me pause about making salads is what to include. There are so many options, I would just freeze up. Maybe that’s why I am Mr. Lazy Cook. I like it quick and dirty.

I have been able to buy salad greens at a local fresh market that included baby spinach, arugula, kale and other green goodies. But, what about the rest of the salad? All those choices!

You can read the ingredients on the package

You can read the ingredients on the package

As so often has occurred in the past, I happened to be in Costco when the answer hit me. The Kirkland brand Fruit and Nuts! As you can see from the photos, the first was at Costco, the second, a close up of the package, it included dried cranberries, dried cherries, almonds, walnuts and dry-roasted pistachios. What wonderful additions to a salad!

Here is the nutritional breakdown of one ounce (30 grams):
Calories 150
Total Fat 8 grams
Saturated Fat 1 gram
No Cholesterol
No Sodium
Carbohydrates 15 grams
Fiber 2 grams
Protein 4 grams

Sometimes I add some avocado because I love what avocado adds to a salad besides being terrifically healthy. I advocate avocados.

Now I have a wonderful, quick fix, stick to the ribs salad at lunch time. Also, this is a simple stepping off point. I can add some quinoa or other goodies for even more nutritional benefits.

Tony

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Filed under calories, healthy eating, lazy cook, men's health, Weight

A St. Patrick’s Day Green Smoothie – Vita-Mix

I have recently decided to up my consumption of leafy green veggies. My diet falls short in that department. I don’t make many salads, so it isn’t the easiest thing to add. I decided to go the smoothie route.

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Herewith my first attempt to consume more green leafy veggies:

One cup of apple cider, 1/4 avocado, one slice pineapple, several strawberries, one cup kale, one cup arugala, one tablespoon of chia seeds, one tablespoon of hemp seeds.

Toss it all in the Vita-mix machine, add a half cup of ice cubes and let ‘er rip.

I got lucky and it tasted lovely. I think the avocado and strawberries smoothed out and sweetened up the taste with the pineapple.

Here is the nutritional breakdown:
Calories 265
Total Fat     13.6 grams
Saturated Fat 1.7 grams
No cholesterol
Sodium   84.3 mg
Carbohydrates 47 grams
Sugar 20 grams
Fiber 12 grams
Protein 11 grams

All in all a very successful first attempt.

Tony

Other Vita Mix recipe posts include:
How to Vita Mix a Low Cal Copy of the Jamba Juice Orange Dream Machine,
Vita Mix – Drinking a Watermelon
Vita Mix – Hot Chicken Soup
Vita Mix – Another Green Smoothie
Vita-Mix – Cold Peach Summer Smoothie
Vita-Mix – Cold Green Soup
Vita-Mix – Green Smoothies
Vita-Mix – Watermelon Sorbet Recipe
Vita-Mix – Garden Fresh Cocktail

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How Many Vegetarians Are There?

Ever wonder the answer to that question? I seem to know more and more people who are giving up meat, either entirely or most of the time.

So a story caught my eye recently that says 17 percent of Americans are now not eating meat at many meals, defined as less than half, and 16 percent are not eating meat at more than half of their meals. Roughly 5 percent say they are true vegetarians, never eating meat, poultry or fish, and half of those are vegans.

Are you eating meat these days?

Here’s a rundown of the results mentioned in the Progressive Grocer story:

How Often Do Americans Eat Vegetarian Meals (no meat, fish, seafood, poultry)?

6%     One meal per week
4%     One full day per week
17%   Many of my meals, but less than half the time
16%   More than half my meals, but not all the time
5%     Never eat meat, fish, seafood, or poultry
48%   Thus we estimate this is the audience for good tasting vegetarian foods that fit individual needs
48%    Say they eat meat, fish, or poultry at all my meals

There’s little doubt American diets have been skewed toward too much meat in the post-World War II era, and also that the meat we’re eating isn’t as healthy as it once was. All that still isn’t pushing me completely away from meat, however. How about you?

John

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