Count on it.
It's as if all of a sudden, everyone is a nutrition expert and knows that by not eating meat, you're not going to get enough protein
I usually tell them, "Don't ask me about my Protein and I won't ask you about your Cholesterol" 🙂
Bottom line is this folks, if you're getting enough CALORIES - you're getting enough protein.
Look around you…. Obesity. Sickness. Fast Food Restaurants on every corner. We're getting the calories all right, and plenty of protein that comes with it. Too MUCH protein as a matter of fact.
In one of the largest studies in history comparing plant-based diets, researchers compared the nutrient profiles of about 30,000 non-vegetarians to 20,000 vegetarians and about 5,000 vegans. And what they found was that everyone, meat-eaters, vegetarians, and vegans alike, were getting in fact way more protein than they actually needed.
So protein's not the problem.
However there IS a nutrient that we should be concerned with.
Less than 3% of Americans get even the recommended minimum adequate intake of fiber.
And by fiber I mean fiber from foods - not that gross orange stuff that comes in a bottle.
On average, we Americans eat about 15 grams of fiber per day. But according to the publication "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010," we should be getting 14 grams for each 1,000-calorie increment in our diet.
That means for a 2,000-calorie diet, we need at the very least, 28 grams of fiber daily, almost double to what we normally get.
97% of us are not getting enough fiber. That's significant.
"But where do you get your protein??? We gotta have protein!"
The reason we are not getting enough fiber is pretty simple actually. Most Americans don't have a clue what's actually in their food.
Seriously, more than half of Americans think STEAK is a source of fiber!
I hate to break it to you, but meat has no fiber. Neither does dairy, eggs, olive oil, fast food , or processed junk food. And this is what 97% of Americans eat. This is our SAD diet.
The Importance of Fiber
Fiber comes in 2 forms, soluble and insoluble and they both do a LOT to keep us healthy. Mainly it gives us a sense of satiety after we eat, makes us feel full, which prevents overeating and gaining weight. It also adds bulk to our stools preventing constipation and keeping us regular.
The average person should have a regular bowel movement every single day. If it's anything less than 3 times a week - you're technically constipated. Time to up the fiber.
Population studies have also shown that fiber has been protectively associated with the risk of diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and various cancers as well high cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugars.
Fiber may also play a role in the prevention and/or treatment of:
- Breast cancer
- Colon cancer
- High cholesterol
- Irritable bowel syndrome
I would say that this is important enough to pay a little more attention to fiber in our diet, but sadly 97% of us don't.
Best Sources of Fiber
Of course fiber is only found in one food group. You guessed it - plants.
Not steak, not eggs, not cheese, not olive oil.
Legumes and beans are very high in fiber. Just one cup of cooked lentils can provide as much as 15 grams. Vegetables are also a good source of fiber. One cup of cooked peas can net almost 9 grams. Even fruit - especially berries are high in fiber.
And of course whole grains - like oatmeal are especially good. With only 130 calories, 0 fat, and 4 grams of fiber per cup, oatmeal truly is the perfect breakfast food (and it even has protein too but don't tell anybody 🙂 ).
So eat up - it's just one more reason why a well-balanced Plant-Based Vegan Diet is one of the healthiest diets on the planet.
Image Source: Flickr/Bruce Tuten