Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


1 Comment

TOP 10 VEGETARIAN SOURCES OF PROTEIN

One of the most common myths about the vegetarian diet is that after ditching meat it becomes nearly impossible to meet the suggested guidelines for protein intake.

The USDA recommends that women get about 46 grams of protein a day and men get about 56. Some people, like athletes and pregnant or breastfeeding women, may need more, according to WebMD.

But, thanks in part to initiatives like Meatless Monday, this year, Americans are expected to eat 12 percent less meat and poultry than five years ago, USA Todayreported.

While protein is essential to growth, building muscle, the immune system and heart and respiratory functions, MSNBC explains, meat-free protein has the benefit of generally being lower in calories and fat than the animal variety.

Whether you’re a vegetarian , or not there are lots of tasty meat-free sources of protein that also pack additional health benefits. Read through the list of the top 10 vegetarian sources of protein below and tell us your favorite in the comments.

1. Spirulina
Spirulina is 65-71 percent complete protein compared to beef, which is only 22 percent, and lentils, which is only 26 percent.
In addition to being protein-rich, spirulina is an excellent source of vital amino acids and minerals easily assimilated by your body. You would need to consume only two tablespoons of spirulina as a protein substitute for a meal.

2. Hemp
Protein Content: Seeds, 6 g per ounce; Milk, 2 g per cup
If you’re allergic to soy, or just freaked out by its estrogenic activity, hemp products are your next best bet. Sold as a dairy alternative or as seeds, hemp is one of very few plant proteins that supply you with all the essential amino acids, acids your body can’t produce on its own to build muscle and create more protein. The fatty acids in hemp seeds and hemp milk also boost your immune system, and the crop itself is highly sustainable, growing as fast as 10 feet in 100 days and naturally requiring very few pesticides.

3. Chia Seeds
Protein Content: 4 g per ounce
Though the protein content isn’t as high as some other vegetarian foods out there, chia seeds pack a huge nutritional punch. For starters, they’re an incredible fiber resource with nearly half (11 g) of the amount you need every day in a single ounce. That helps fill you up and eat fewer calories. They also contain 18 percent of your daily calcium requirement, more than triple that of milk, which helps your bones. Chia seeds have no flavor, so you can add a tablespoon to any food you wish to without altering its flavor, and unlike flax, chia seeds don’t need to be ground in order for your body to absorb all the nutrients.

4. Quinoa
Protein Content: 1 cup of cooked quinoa (185 g) contains 8.14 grams of protein.
Quinoa is perhaps one of the most perfect non-animal sources of protein on the planet. What makes quinoa (pronounce keen-wah) unique is that it is the only plant based source of complete protein. “Complete” means that it contains all 9 of the essential amino acids that are crucial to human function and health. It is also a wonderful option for those that follow a gluten free diet, since it is completely gluten free.

 


5. Tempeh
Protein Content: A firmer, chewier cousin of tofu, a half-cup serving of this soybean-based bite has 15 grams of protein. 
Fermented foods ought to be part of everyone’s diet, vegetarian or not. Tempeh is one that is chewy and delicious, even to die-hard burger fans. It’s healthy and a much better bet than heavily processed tofu or “mock meats” that are brimming with poor-quality modified proteins, sodium, chemicals and starchy fillers. In my opinion it doesn’t compare nutritionally or in taste to a juicy steak but as vegetarian options go it ain’t half bad.

6. Almonds and Almond Butter
Protein Content: (between 6 and 8 grams, per handful).
When adding a handful of nuts to your salad for protein, go with almonds. Almond butter is less toxic and allergenic than peanut butter, although the protein amounts are similar by comparison. Still, this is about quality protein, not necessarily the amount. 

7. Veggies
Yep, good old greens will pack a protein punch. One cup of cooked spinach has about 7 grams of protein. The same serving of French beans has about 13 grams. Two cups of cooked kale? 5 grams. One cup of boiled peas? Nine grams. 

8. Lentils and Beans
A cup of iron-rich lentils packs 18 grams of protein, almost as much as three ounces of steak. One cup of chickpeas, contains 15 grams of protein, as does a cup of black or kidney beans. 

9. Organic, Plain, Greek Yogurt (not vegan)
Protein Content: 15 to 20 g per 6-ounce serving
All dairy products are good sources of protein. A glass of milk provides you with 8 g, but Greek yogurt is a protein powerhouse, with twice the protein and half the sugar and carbs of regular yogurt. In fact, Greek yogurt contains the same protein as a three-ounce serving of lean meat. Top that with a handful of nuts and you could get half of your daily protein intake at breakfast. 

10. Eggs (not vegan)
Protein Content: 6 g per egg
There’s a reason the incredible, edible egg is such a popular breakfast choice. The protein in eggs has the highest biological value, a measure of how well it supports your body’s protein needs, of any food, including beef. And the yolks contain vitamin B12, deficiencies of which are common in vegetarian diets and can cause attention, mood, and thinking problems while raising blood homocysteine levels, a risk factor for heart disease, dementia, and Alzheimer’s.

To get the healthiest eggs, find a local producer whose chicken flocks are small and feed off of grass, bugs, and organic grain; studies have shown that E. coli and salmonella contamination in eggs is directly related to the size of the flock.

Sources: 
http://www.mindbodygreen.com…
http://abcnews.go.com/…
http://www.marksdailyapple.com/…
http://www.huffingtonpost.com….


2 Comments

Top 7 Sources of Plant-Based Protein

BY RICH ROLL     APRIL 11, 2012

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not only possible to optimize your health on a plant-based diet; when done right, I actually recommend it. 

But where do you get your protein?

I field this question constantly. Despite deeply ingrained but misleading conventional wisdom, the truth is that you can survive without meat, eggs and dairy. Believe it or not, you can actually thrive, and never suffer a protein deficiency. Because no matter how active your lifestyle, a well-rounded whole food plant-based diet provides more than enough protein to satisfy the body’s needs without all the artery-clogging saturated fats that dominate the typical American diet.

I speak from experience. As a vegan endurance athlete, I place a high tax on my body. And yet my plant-based diet has fueled me for years without any negative impact on building lean muscle mass or recovery. In fact, at age 45 I continue to improve and am as fit, healthy, and strong as I have ever been.

Here’s a list of my top-7 plant-based foods high in protein:

1. Quinoa: 11g Protein / Cup

A grain like seed, quinoa is a high protein alternative to rice or pasta, served alone or over vegetables and greens. It provides a good base for a veggie burger and is also a fantastic breakfast cereal when served cold with almond or coconut milk and berries.


2. Lentils: 17.9g  Protein / Cup

Delicious, nutritious and super easy to prepare. Trader Joe’s sells them pre-cooked and I’m not afraid to just eat them cold right out of the package for lunch or a snack on the run.

3. Tempeh: 24g Protein / 4 Ounces

A fermented soybean-based food, tempeh is a healthy protein-packed alternative to it’s non-fermented cousin tofu. It makes for a great veggie burger and doubles as a tasty meat alternative to meatballs in pasta, or over brown rice and vegetables.

4. Seitan: 24g Protein / 4 Ounces

An excellent substitute for beef, fish and soy products, one serving provides about 25% of your RDA of protein. But not for those with gluten sensitivities, as it is made from wheat gluten.

5. Beans (Black, Kidney, Mung, Pinto): 12-15g Protein / Cup

I love beans. Great on a veggie burrito, in chili and soups, on salads or over rice with vegetables, beans of all varieties are a daily staple of my diet.

6. Spirulina: 6g Protein / 10 grams

A blue-green algae, spirulina is a highly bioavailable complete protein containing all essential amino acids. At 60% protein (the highest of any natural food), it’s a plant-based protein powerhouse that finds it way into my Vitamix blends daily.

7. Hemp Seeds: 16g Protein / 3 Tbsp

With a perfect ration of omega-6 and omega-3 EFA’s, hemp seeds are another bioavailable complete protein rivaled only by spirulina. A simple and great addition to a multitude of dishes, from breakfast cereal to salads to smoothies to vegetables and rice.


Leave a comment

What is Tempeh?

Although not a common item in most households in the United States, tempeh, with its distinctively nutty taste and nougat-like texture, is increasing in popularity. It easily absorbs the flavors of the other foods with which it is cooked making it adaptable to many types of dishes. Tempeh can be found in health food stores and specialty markets throughout the year.

Tempeh has been a staple in Indonesia for over 2000 years. It is a highly nutritious fermented food traditionally made from soybeans and its high protein content makes it a wonderful substitute for meat. It is typically made by cooking and dehulling soybeans, inoculating them with a culturing agent (like Rhizopus oligosporus), and then incubating the innoculated product overnight until it forms a solid cake. 

Tempeh is a wonderful, high protein, southeastern Asian treat. Not only does this collaged cake of fermented soybeans have a distinctive nutty taste but its nougatlike texture readily absorbs the different flavorings with which it is cooked. Tempeh is typically made by cooking and dehulling soybeans, inoculating them with a culturing agent (like Rhizopus oligosporus), and then incubating the innoculated product overnight until it forms a solid cake.
Tempeh originated in Indonesia where it has been a staple of the traditional cuisine for over 2000 years. Shortly after colonizing Indonesia, the Dutch introduced tempeh and other native foodstuffs into Europe. It was not until the 20th century that this Southeast Asian delight was introduced into the United States. Tempeh is now gaining increased popularity in this country as people look for ways to increase their intake of soybeans, and they discover tempeh’s versatility and delicious taste.

A food made from fermented soybeans, tempeh provides not only the protein found in soybeans but their many other health benefits as well. The soybean is the most widely grown and utilized legume in the world, with the U.S. being responsible for more than 50% of the world’s production of this important food. Soy is one the most widely researched, health-promoting foods around. Soy’s key benefits are related to its excellent protein content, its high levels of essential fatty acids, numerous vitamins and minerals, its isoflavones, and its fiber. While a complete review of all the benefits soy foods offer could easily fill a large book, recently there has been controversy as to the extent to which soybeans are a health-promoting food; we address this issue in our Q+A Are there special concerns related to soy foods?

A Health-Promoting Meat Replacer

Soybeans are regarded as equal in protein quality to animal foods. Just 4 ounces of tempeh provides 41% of the Daily Value (DV) for protein for less than 225 calories and only 3.9 grams of saturated fat. Plus, the soy protein in tempeh tends to lower cholesterol levels, while consuming protein from animal sources tends to raise them, since they also include saturated fat and cholesterol. 

In addition to healthy protein, some of tempeh’s nutritional high points include:
Riboflavin: 4 ounces of tempeh provides 24% of the DV for this B-vitamin. A nutrient essential for the transfer reactions that occur to produce energy in the mitochondria, riboflavin is also a cofactor in the regeneration of one of the liver’s most important detoxification enzymes, glutathione.

Magnesium: Tempeh also provides 22% of the DV for Nature’s blood vessel relaxant, magnesium, in just 4 ounces. In addition to its beneficial role in the cardiovascular system, magnesium plays an essential role in more than 300 enzymatic reactions, including those that control protein synthesis and energy production.

Manganese and Copper: That same 4 ounces of tempeh will give you 73% of the DV for manganese and 31% of the DV for copper. These two trace minerals serve numerous physiological functions including being cofactors for the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase.

Beneficial Effects on Cholesterol Levels

Soy protein has been found in recent years to be excellent for a number of different conditions, one of the most important ones being heart disease. Soy protein has been shown in some studies to be able to lower total cholesterol levels by 30% and to lower LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, levels by as much as 35-40%. This is important because high levels of cholesterol, especially LDL cholesterol, tend to become deposited into the walls of blood vessels, forming hard plaques. If these plaques grow too large or break, they can cause a heart attack or stroke.

Some studies have even shown that soy protein may be able to raise HDL cholesterol levels. HDL cholesterol travels through the body collecting the cholesterol that has been deposited in the arteries, so it can be taken away and removed by the liver. One of the main goals of atherosclerosis treatment and prevention, therefore, is to lower LDL cholesterol levels while raising HDL levels. And soy is one food that may be able to do both at once.

In addition, soy foods like tempeh are rich in dietary fiber. When eaten, the fiber in tempeh binds to fats and cholesterol in food, so less is absorbed. In addition, tempeh’s fiber binds to bile salts and removes them from the body. Since the liver gets rid of cholesterol by transforming it into bile salts, their removal by fiber forces the liver to use more cholesterol to form more bile salts, leading to lower cholesterol levels overall.

 

Stabilize Blood Sugar at Healthy Levels

Another condition for which tempeh can be very beneficial is diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes. The protein in tempeh is excellent for diabetic patients, who tend to have problems with animal sources of protein. The protein and fiber in tempeh can also prevent high blood sugar levels and help in keeping blood sugar levels under control. Some diabetics even find that the effects of soy foods, such as tempeh, and other legumes on blood sugar are so profound that they need to monitor their new blood sugar levels and adjust their medications accordingly. Of course, all of this should only be done under the supervision of a doctor. Diabetes patients are especially susceptible to atherosclerosis and heart disease, which is the number one killer of persons with diabetes. Keeping cholesterol levels low with soy foods may be useful for preventing these heart problems. In addition, soy foods have been shown to lower high triglyceride levels. Triglyceride levels tend to be high in diabetic patients, and high triglyceride levels are another factor of diabetics’ increased risk for heart disease.

Promotes Gastrointestinal Health

The fiber in tempeh also provides preventative therapy for several other conditions. Fiber is able to bind to cancer-causing toxins and remove them from the body, so they can’t damage colon cells. Tempeh, which is made from high-fiber soybeans, may therefore be able to help reduce the risk of colon cancer. As a matter of fact, in areas of the world where soy foods are eaten regularly, rates of colon cancer, as well as some other cancers, including breast cancer, tend to be low.

A Healthy Transition through Menopause

One of the more popular uses of soy foods lately has been in the treatment of menopausal symptoms. Soybeans contain active compounds called isoflavones that act like very weak estrogens in the body. These phytoestrogens bind to estrogen receptors and may provide enough stimulation to help eliminate some of the uncomfortable symptoms that occur when natural estrogen levels decline. Studies have shown that women who consume soy foods report a significant reduction in the amount of hot flashes that they experience. There is also some evidence that soy foods may even be able to help reduce the bone loss that typically occurs after menopause. And as women’s risk for heart disease significantly increases at menopause, soy foods’ numerous beneficial cardiovascular effects make tempeh a particularly excellent choice for frequent consumption as menopause approaches.

Promotes Men’s Health

In epidemiological studies, genistein, a naturally occuring isoflavone found chiefly in soy foods, has been consistently linked to lower incidence of prostate cancer. A recent study of human prostate cancer cells demonstrated some of the mechanisms behind genistein’s anti-prostate cancer effects. Genistein not only induced chemicals that block cell cycling, thus preventing the proliferation of cancerous cells in the prostate, but at high concentrations actually induced apoptosis, the self-destruct sequence the body uses to eliminate worn out or abnormal cells.

Another study looked at the antioxidant effects of these isoflavones in soy, and found that genistein protected cells in healthy men from an increase in free radical production by inhibiting the activation of an important inflammatory agent called NF-kappaB and by decreasing levels of DNA adducts (a marker of DNA damage).

For many years it was only possible to find tempeh in natural foods and Asian stores. Yet, with the growing demand for soy foods, tempeh is now becoming more and more available in supermarkets throughout the country. Depending upon the store, tempeh may either be kept in the refrigerated or freezer section. In addition to plain soy tempeh, oftentimes varieties that include grains or vegetables are available.
Look for tempeh that is covered with a thin whitish bloom. While it may have a few black or grayish spots, it should have no evidence of pink, yellow or blue coloration as this indicates that it has become overly fermented.

Refrigerated tempeh can keep in the refrigerator for up to ten days. If you do not consume the whole package of tempeh at one time, wrap it well and place it back in the refrigerator. Tempeh will keep fresh for several months in the freezer.