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What Plants to Eat for Health and Performance!

As the evidence piles up that a whole food, plant-based diet will reduce body fat and reduce one’s risk of chronic disease later in life, we find there is still quite a bit of confusion as to what specific plants provide the most benefits to us.

In this blog, we will simply go through the nutritional value of many great tasting and easy to eat plants and give you some ideas as to how to put them together in meal form.

 

We will focus on three value areas: Fiber, Antioxidants, and Protein. All three are crucial to being lean and healthy, and two of the three you won’t get from eating animals!

 

Fiber

Fiber is crucial to us for many reasons. Besides helping food to move through your digestive tract more quickly for healthy elimination, fiber fills your stomach, sending a vital “full” signal, that prevents overeating. How many times have you been out to dinner, finished your huge oversized American portion, only to feel like you were going to explode 15 minutes later? We all have! Odds are that you ate an animal based meal with tons of fats and cholesterol, and hundreds of unwanted and unneeded calories. This would never happen to you when your diet is plant based and whole-food focused. The fiber and roughage in whole foods and plants literally fill your stomach faster, sends the “I’m full!” signal much sooner, and before those unwanted calories can be ingested.

 

Here is a cool chart of fiber content courtesy of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine…This is just a few!

And don’t forget your nuts! Almonds, Pistachios, and Walnuts all have ~ 3 grams of fiber per one ounce serving, which is typically a small handful.

 

Antioxidants

Antioxidants control and prevent the inflammation that causes all chronic diseases. Antioxidants are only found in whole foods and plants, and remember, animal products cause inflammation. This is why we all need to focus on getting a large variety of fruits and veggies each day!  The antioxidant value of each food is expressed in ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) units, a unit of measurement for antioxidant content which was originally developed by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) Here is a list of just some the most antioxidant rich foods on the planet! Keep in minds spices are high here as well.

 

Prunes                               Kale

Blueberries                     Spinach

Strawberries                  Broccoli

Raisins                              Onions

Raspberries                    Artichoke

Plums                                Acai Berries

Red Grapes                      Beets

Cherries                            Red Bell Peppers

 

The other thing to know about antioxidants, is that we literally cannot get enough of them on a daily basis. If you worked all day in your kitchen cooking vegetables a cutting fruit, you still could not get all your body needs ,and get the variety that is needed. The way to get all we need is to use a food based supplement like Juice Plus Orchard and Garden Blend, a combination of 35 organic vine ripened fruits and vegetables condensed into capsules or gummies. Keep in mind these are not vitamins, but real fruits and veggies with all the micronutrients that will help your body at the cellular level.

 

Protein

Kendrick Ferris, the only American male to qualify for the Rio Games in Weightlifting, has been 100% plant based for almost three years. Need to eat animal protein to be strong? He is proof that is a NO!

Protein, as we informed you in our last blog, is always a tricky subject. Once you understand, however, that you do not need nearly as many grams per day than you grew up believing you did, you will realize that there are ample grams of protein available in a whole food plant-based diet. While you are getting your protein from plants, you get the bonus of getting antioxidants and tens of thousands of phytonutrients that you cannot get anywhere else and, of course, fiber. Combining numerous vegetables, legumes, and nuts, will also give you a complete amino acid profile, and maximum digestibility and absorption.

Here is a graphic of the various  plant based protein sources.

The SAD diet, combined with the non-scientific proliferation of high protein diets, are once again giving further rise to the chronic inflammation that leads to all chronic diseases. Our bodies are not able to efficiently digest large amounts of animal protein, and the inflammation caused by this accumulates over time, and years down the road we pay the price. The driver behind any high protein diet is the desire to decrease the consumption of carbohydrates, not actual scientific study and research that proves that high protein consumption as a percentage of body weight is a good thing. Current research is settling in around the .36/g to .45/g of protein per pound of bodyweight. Active athletes that are strength training on a regular basis would need to be at the upper end of the range. As always, everybody, male and female is different. The primary fact is that we absolutely do not need protein from animals. Here is a side-by-side comparison of ~ 33g of animal protein vs. 33g of plant based protein. This is stunning and the additional benefits on the plant side are indisputable!

Nutrient Composition of Plant and Animal-Based Foods (Per 500 Calories of Energy)

Nutrient                              Plant-Based Foods*               Animal-Based Foods**

Cholesterol(mg)                               0                                               137

Fat(g)                                                 4                                                 36

Protein(g)                                         33                                               34

Beta-carotene(mcg)                  29,919                                            17

Dietary Fiber(g)                               31                                                0

Vitamin C(mg)                              293                                                4

Folate(mcg)                                 1168                                              19

Vitamin E(mg_ATE)                       11                                                .5

Iron(mg)                                          20                                                 2

Magnesium(mg)                           548                                               51

Calcium(mg)                                 545                                             252    

* Equal parts tomatoes, spinach, lima beans, peas, potatoes

** Equal parts, beef, pork, chicken, whole milk.                               

Thanks once again to plantricianproject.org and nutritionfacts.org for their incredible research databases, to Pam O’Connor and Toni Branner for their lasting guidance.

Up Next: The Science Behind Inflammation and Oxidative Stress.

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