Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Vegans: Far From Deficient

Best Vegan Protein Sources:
It’s important to note that everything has some protein (amino acids). Veg*n diets actually provide more than enough protein for the body. For further scientific study on this as well as the devastating effects of animal protein, I highly suggest reading The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. However, here are some of the best vegan protein sources:

Complete proteins include:
-Soy foods such as tofu, tempeh, miso and soy milk
-Sprouted seeds
-Grains, especially amaranth and quinoa
-Beans and legumes
-Spirulina and chorella (blue-green algae)

Common sources of specific amino acids are:
Histidine: Apple, pomogranates, alfalfa, beets, carrots, celery, cucumber, dandelion, endive, garlic, radish, spinach, turnip greens.
Arginine: Alfalfa, beets, carrots, celery, cucumbers, green vegetables, leeks, lettuce, potatoes, radishes, parsnips, nutritional yeast.
Valine: Apples, almonds, pomegranates, beets, carrots, celery, dandelion greens, lettuce, okra, parsley, parsnips, squash, tomatoes, turnips, nutritional yeast.
Tryptophan: Alfalfa, brussel sprouts, carrots, celery, chives, dandelion greens, endive, fennel, snap beans, spinach, turnips, nutritional yeast.
Threnoine: Papayas, alfalfa sprouts, carrots, green leafy vegetables such as celery, collards, kale, and lettuce (especially iceberg), lima beans, laver (Nori -- a sea vegetable).
Phenylalanine: Apples, pineapples, beets, carrots, parsley, spinach, tomatoes, nutritional yeast.
Methionine: Apples, pineapples, Brazil nuts, filberts, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, chives, dock (sorrel), garlic, horseradish, kale, watercress.
Lysine: Apples, apricots, grapes, papayas, pears, alfalfa, beets, carrots, celery, cucumber, dandelion greens, parsley, spinach, turnip greens.
Leucine: Avocados, papayas, olives, coconut, sunflower seeds.
Isoleucine: Avocados, papayas, olives, coconut, sunflower seeds.

And some in general examples of plant foods containing high sources of protein:
PROTEIN IN LEGUMES: Garbanzo beans, Kidney beans, Lentils, Lima beans, Navy beans, Soybeans, Split peas
PROTEIN IN GRAINS: Barley, Brown rice, Buckwheat, Millet, Oatmeal, Rye, Wheat germ, Wheat, hard red, Wild rice
VEGETABLE PROTEIN: Artichokes, Beets, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Green peas, Green pepper, Kale, Lettuce, Mushrooms, Mustard green, Onions, Potatoes, Spinach, Tomatoes, Turnip greens, Watercress, Yams, Zucchini
PROTEIN IN FRUITS: Apple, Banana, Cantaloupe, Grape, Grapefruit, Honeydew melon, Orange, Papaya, Peach, Pear, Pineapple, Strawberry, Tangerine, Watermelon
PROTEIN IN NUTS AND SEEDS: Almonds, Cashews, Filberts, Hemp Seeds, Peanuts, Pumpkin seeds, Sesame seeds, Sunflower seeds, Walnuts (black)

Also, one excellent ingredient to look for is hemp seed protein. Hemp protein is the most easily digested protein there is. Hemp seed is an nutritious dietary source of easily digestible gluten-free protein. It provides a well-balanced array of all the amino acids, including 34.6 grams of protein for each 100 grams. The fatty acid profile of the hemp seed is extremely beneficial, containing omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in a virtually ideal ratio. Other beneficial aspects of hemp seed include a strongly favorable unsaturated-to-saturated fat ratio; a high content of antioxidants; and a wide variety of vitamins and minerals.

Best Vegan Calcium Sources:
It’s very easy to get calcium in a vegan diet. I’d say easier. The U.S. RDA for calcium is between 800 and 1,200 milligrams, depending on your protein intake, but many feel that that number is too high. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends between 400 and 500 milligrams calcium daily—half of the U.S. RDA. Plant-based sources of calcium are generally more absorbable than animal sources because we can digest the plant-based foods easier and break them down and utilize the nutrients better.
Proteins also have a negative effect on calcium stores because amino acids contain sulfur, which in turn affects the body’s pH balance. Plant-based proteins tend to have lower concentrations of sulfur-based amino acids and are more alkaline in nature. Meat, on the other hand, is very acidic, and the body reacts to re-balance itself by leeching alkaline calcium out of the bones to neutralize the acid. For every 1 gram protein in your diet, you can expect 1 milligram calcium to be lost or eliminated in your urine. Animal protein especially actually leeches calcium from the bones. Through his research, Dr. T. Colin Campbell of the famous China Project (Chapter 3) has determined that even though most Chinese consume no dairy products in their daily diets, osteoporosis is uncommon in China even though they consume only half the amount of calcium as compared to Americans. Osteoporosis is a bone-thinning disease that can rob you of 30 to 40 percent of your bone tissue. Calcium passes from the bones, filters through the kidneys, and is then eliminated in the urine. Factors like excess salt, animal protein, and high-protein dairy products in your diet cause rapid calcium losses and increase your chances of developing osteoporosis. Women in the United States take note, as osteoporosis affects 1 in 4 women in North America. Ironically, osteoporosis is highest in those countries that consume the highest amount of calcium from animal-based sources. Because the high concentration of acidic protein in animal-based sources causes the body to lose more calcium than it consumes, a vegan diet will actually reduce your chances of developing osteoporosis.
Here are some great plant sources of calcium:

Molasses-Collard Greens-Quinoa-Hijiki-Carob Flour-Soymilk-Tofu-Grapefruit-Orange Juice-Calcium Fortified Rice Milk-Soy yogurt-Turnips-Turnip Greens-Tempeh-Kale-Soybeans-Okra-Bok Choy-Broccoli-Mustard Greens-Tahini-Almonds-Almond Butter-Hummus-Figs-Dates-Oatmeal-Spinach-Garlic-Dandelion Greens-Carrots-Beet Greens-Leafy Greens-Parsley-Agar-Kelp-Dried Fruits-Sesame Seeds-Wakame-Papaya-Rhubarb-Cauliflower-Cassava-Chives-Azuki Beans-Amaranth-Canned Vegetarian Baked Beans-Refried Beans-Black Beans-Black Turtle Beans-Burdock Root-Butter Beans-Cabbage-Chickpeas-Chickory Greens-Blackeyed Peas-Cranberry Beans-French Beans-Swiss Chard-Great Northern Beans-Kidney Beans-Lambsquarters (yes, it’s a plant)-Lima Beans-Lupins-Mungo Beans-Mung Beans-Navy Beans-Pigeon Beans-Pink Beans-Pinto Bens-Natto-Acorn Squash-Butternut Squash-White Beans-Winged Beans-Yellow Beans-Brown Rice

Vitamin D:
The presence of vitamin D also affects calcium’s absorption capabilities. The body easily absorbs vitamin D with just 15 minutes of exposure to sunshine per day. Vitamin D is produced within the body when the sun hits your skin. The sun triggers ergosterol, which is transformed into vitamin D, which helps us absorb calcium from the foods we consume directly into our bloodstream. Vitamin D is stored in the liver, and many believe that what you’re exposed to in an average summer can be stored within your body and used throughout the winter. The liver is capable of storing up to a 3-year supply of vitamin D at one time.
Aside from that, vegan dietary sources of Vitamin D are fortified soymilks and cereals, margarine (not a good idea for weight loss however), fortified rice and almond milks, and vitamins. The biggest source is sunlight. Exposing skin to the sun for ten to fifteen minutes ensures daily intake of vitamin D. Even three times a week is enough.

This is actually the biggest one to look out for. B12 is a vitamin formed by bacteria. It used to be found naturally in top soil but with modern farming methods with pesticides and such and topsoil erosion, it is no longer present in soil. B12 can actually be stored in the body for years, which is why it takes so long for a deficiency to occur. Furthermore, very little is needed. We’re talking micrograms. A vegan diet may not be a reliable source of B12, but a flesh-eating diet isn’t necessarily, either. Meat has not been found to be a reliable source of B-12, at least according to extensive studies done by the USDA. The B-12 is too tightly bound within the protein to be adequately absorbed by our intestinal tracts. Even if meat were a good source, it is no longer a natural source of B-12. Unfortunately because of modern feeding practices of cattle, they no longer receive adequate B-12 in their diet and so they have to receive B-12 supplements (in other words, you are getting a supplement of B-12 second hand by eating meat). Dairy contains B12, but, unfortunately, dairy is the single most polluted food in our diets. It often has levels of dioxin and other petrochemicals that are far in excess of limits set by the EPA. It is also a food that promotes anemia by not only have low levels of iron, but also has elements which prevent proper absorption of iron. It is a very low nutrient dense food, and is very high in preformed Vitamin A which is not a healthful nutrient according to studies. On top of that, high consumption of dairy leads to excessive levels of Insulin-like Growth Hormone 1 in humans, and high levels of this hormone have been linked with various cancers, including but not limited to breast, prostate and colon cancers. I could go on, but I guess you get the idea here. Again, too, the B-12 from the cow's is not native to their diets any more, so they are getting it supplemented in. Yet, despite the high levels of consumption of foods high in B-12 in this country, it has been estimated by Harvard School of Public Health that B-12 is the most common nutrient deficiency in the US. So, it really comes down to the fact that we are not getting sufficient B-12 from any of our diets, and even if we could, the food sources that would give us sufficient B-12 our too polluted and unhealthful to eat in the required quantities to be considered ideal. In other words, in today's industrialized world where we wash fruits and veggies excessively (we used to get B-12 from the soil remnants on our produce), we are really best off taking a supplement for B-12. B-12 has found to be non-toxic in extremely high doses, so there is really no downside here (it is also relatively cheap). Seaweed and nutritional yeast both have some B12. Fermented items have some. Some cereals are fortified with it along with some vegan soymilks. For a direct source of vitamin B12 along with other B vitamins and a slew of other nutrients, I highly suggest Kombucha.


bee said...

that is a very detailed and informative post. thank you. i've added you to our blogroll.

VeganJacks said...

Wow! Thank you so much! I'm kind of new to this, so as soon as I get a blogroll I'll be sure to put you right on there as well. :)

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Are you a CCN? As a nutritionist myself, I've just started referring people to this page when I answer questions online. I appreciate you writing it all out once and for all.

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