Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Plant vs Animal Protein while on a Low-Carb Diet

First off - let me just say that I'm not a fan of low-carb diets. First of all - it's a DIET... which means that most people are going to eat one way while they're on it and then as soon as they stop are going to eat whatever they want. And subsequently gain the weight back. Second, I think that whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are some of the healthiest foods around and restricting them to me just seems silly. All of these foods are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals - making them nutrient-dense foods. Oatmeal, for example, is high in soluble fiber, helping people with high blood cholesterol and high fasting sugar.

That being said, a new study just came out that shows that people on a low-carb diet were better off eating plant-protein than animal-protein. A lot better. The study used data from the Nurses' Health Study and the Health Professionals' Follow Up Study - 85,168 people - and followed them for 26 years (for women) or 20 years (for men).

What the researchers found was that the people on the low-carb diet had a 12% increase in risk of dying for any cause. However, those who reached to the animals for fat and protein had it worse. These folks were 23% more likely to die from any reason, 14% more likely to die from cardiovascular problems and 28% more likely to die from cancer, when compared to those who had more carbohydrates in their diet.

Those who looked to the plants for their fat (like avocado, flax seed oil) and protein (like lentils, tofu, chickpeas) were 20% LESS likely to die from any cause, and 23% less likely to die from cardiovascular problems, when compared to those who had more carbohydrates in their diet. And the more the people ate of the plant-proteins, the greater the protection.

OK, you're convinced. Now, how do you reach for vegetable proteins? Go for beans (lentils, kidney, pinto, black, adzuki, chickpeas (garbanzo)), tofu, edamame, tempeh, seitan, nuts (almonds, walnuts) and seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, sesame). And don't forget about quinoa - a seed that acts like a grain and is loaded with protein. Then go crazy. I love this Black Bean Dip Recipe (Whole Foods) or Spiced Lentil Tacos from Self Magazine. Search away - the websites of the NY Times, Whole Foods, Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine and Epicurious all have great recipes.

Buon Appetito!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Worst Kids' Meal

Dear McDonald's, I'm not lovin' it!

The Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine just posted a list of the worst fast food kid's meals, and McDonald's topped the list. I wouldn't even recommend this meal to an adult, let alone a child. Their Mighty Kids Meal featuring a double cheeseburger, small french fries, and a 1% chocolate milk (8 oz) weighs in at 840 calories, 37 grams of fat, and 1460 mg of sodium. 14 grams of that fat is saturated (the bad kind) and there's also 1.5 grams of trans fat (we should all get zero of this).

What does that all mean? Well, aside from the fact that I'm vegan I would never touch this thing, it has more than twice the calories I normally eat in a meal, and way too much fat and sodium. For a 12-year old (who it seems like the "Mighty Kids Meal" is targeted to) who needs around 2000 calories (some do need more), this meal is 42% of how many calories they need in the day. What's worse is that it's more than half of the fat needs for the day, AND reaches how much total sodium they should have in a day. Oy.

Their "best" Mighty Kids Meal is the 6 piece Chicken McNuggets, with the Apple Dippers-Low Fat Caramel Dip, and the Apple Juice Box. This guy has 470 calories, 18 grams of fat (3.5 saturated, none trans), and 660 mg of sodium. I say... make a PB&J at home on whole wheat bread with no-sugar peanut butter, all-natural jelly, and have a whole apple with a glass of soy milk. Yum.

Want to check out the rest of the nutrition information at McDonald's? Click here.