Printer Friendly

Red or white - don't be blue.

In recent years, we Americans have instituted significant changes in our eating habits. Scientific evidence continues to mount for the causal relationship between fat intake and the risk of heart disease, and possibly some forms of cancer. The beef industry is hurting, and the pork industry claims that theirs is "the other white meat." (It isn't.) Meanwhile, the dairy cases in our supermarkets offer an amazing array of low-fat milk, cheese, and spreads.

Except, perhaps, for those of us who have friends or relatives in the meat or dairy industries, why not go vegetarian? One large group, the Seventh-Day Adventists, is traditionally vegetarian. The research that has been done in California at Loma Linda University's excellent Adventist medical school confirms some of the advantages of a vegetarian diet.

We would not deter anyone who might contemplate such a change in diet. However, the simple fact is that most of us are creatures of habit when it comes to our taste preferences; thus, we would find it very difficult to become strict vegetarians. One could become a vegan--one who doesn't eat eggs and dairy products, as well as meat--but converts will be few and far between.

Nonetheless, there is ample reason for substituting other high-protein foods for much of the red meat that we now consume. Our Adventist friends and other vegetarians have done wonders in developing tasty dishes (even "meat loaf," "sausage," "bacon," etc.) from legumes and other vegetables. In fact, many such dishes are now readily available in our supermarkets.

So how to begin? For openers, there's the National Academy of Sciences' recommendation of two servings of meat per day as part of a balanced diet. Compare their 3-ounce serving with the huge meat servings to which we are accustomed--3 ounces of cooked meat is about the size of a deck of cards! Note also that their meat group contains not only red meat, poultry, and fish, but legumes (beans, lentils, and dried peas), eggs, and nuts as well.

As for eggs, those tasty yolks aren't as deadly as you may think. True, they're high in cholesterol, but dietary cholesterol does not, for most persons, raise blood cholesterol to the extent that saturated fat does. Persons at high risk, for coronary heart disease should probably limit themselves to three yolks a week. If egg substitutes are too rich for your budget, make your own by making scrambled eggs with one yolk for every two or three egg whites. You can even add a little yellow food coloring, if necessary, to make them look more palatable.

Should you decide to go vegetarian, be sure to get enough iron and zinc in your diet. Whole grains and fiber can cut down the absorption of iron, so include plenty of legumes, dried fruits, and enriched breads and cereals that are high in absorbable iron.

Vegans need to concern themselves with additional deficiencies, such as calories, calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B-12. Exercise demands plenty of high calorie plant foods such as breads, dried fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds. For calcium, normally supplied by milk, use soy milk, fortified cereals, broccoli, greens (except spinach), legumes, and Brazil and hazel nuts. Vitamins D and B-12 can come from various fortified foods or from supplements.

Finally, here are some suggestions about low-fat dairy products. If skim milk tastes too watery, milk with 1 percent fat (which is becoming more available these days) should do nicely. If not available, just make a half-and-half mixture of skim and 2 percent. For cheese, part-skim ricotta and low-fat or dry-curd cottage cheese are good choices, as are processed cheeses. Ice cream lovers can go for frozen yogurt or ice milk.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Benjamin Franklin Literary & Medical Society, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:advantages of a vegetarian diet
Publication:Medical Update
Date:Dec 1, 1991
Previous Article:On the other hand....
Next Article:Recipe of the month.

Related Articles
Ultrarunning and vegetarianism. (Vegetarian Action).
Vegetarian diets--good to go!
Nutrition hotline.
Self-defined vegetarians in British Columbia, Canada, show healthier dietary and lifestyle practices.
Beliefs and personality traits: what sets vegetarians apart from the rest?

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters