According to U.S. News & World Report Magazine, the #1 thing you can do to improve your life in 2011 is to adopt a plant-based diet
From U.S. News & World Report
Former President Bill Clinton recently shed more than 20 pounds after adopting a plant-based diet emphasizing legumes, fruits, vegetables, and even almond milk. A study published in September in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests he has the right idea. The new research indicates a low-carb diet, heavy on proteins and fats from plants, may reduce the risk of death from all medical causes.
"It's no big surprise because the animal-protein diet will have lots of saturated fats and cholesterol, and the plant-based diet will have unsaturated fats, which lower cholesterold and reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes," says study co-author Walter Willett, chair of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. The study highlights the so-called Eco-Atkins plan popularized in 2009 by David Jenkins, a nutritional scientist at the University of Toronto, which avoids the saturated animal fats of the original Atkins diet. To follow, here's what you do:
Get Acquainted with Beans
Dawn Jackson Blatner, a registered dietitian and author of The Flexitarian Diet, calls the bean the "glory child" of plant-based protein. Jackson Blatner offers cooks this rule of thumb: A quarter cup of beans of any kind -- white, black, pinto, garbanzo -- has the same amount of protein as 1 once of meat. And you can do almost anything with a soybean product that you can do with a chicken breast. For example, you can baste tofu with barbecue or teriyaki sauce and bake it, grill it, or add it to a veggie stir-fry.
Former President Bill Clinton has adopted a plant-based diet, shed 20 lbs.
Try other sources of plant-based protein
"There's a myth that it's hard to get enough protein on this kind of diet, and that's not true," says cardiologist Dean Ornish, a physician consultant to Clinton since 1993. Nuts, high-protein vegetables like brusses sprouts, grains like couscous, and lentils are all good sources. One ounce of almonds provides 6 grams of protein -- more than 10 percent of a 150-pound person's daily protein needs. And seitan, or wheat gluten, besides being high in protein, has a meaty texture and can be flavored to taste like chicken, sausage, or any spice.
Ditch dairy drinks
Plant-based beverages like soy, almond, or rice milks are healthy alternatives to cow's milk. Most are fortified with calcium and vitamin D and are great nutrition sources, says Jackson Blatner.
Substitute healthy fats for unhealthy ones
Saturated and trans fats, found in such foods as butter, whole milk, fatty cuts of beef, and hydrogenated vegetable oils, can be harmful. Consider healthier options like omega-3 fatty acids, nut butters, seeds, avocados, and olives. Try vegetable oils, like canola, flaxseed, and walnut, for cooking and for salad dressings or toppings.
Choose carbs wisely
There are good carbs and bad carbs. Starchy foods like white bread, rice, potatoes, and baked goods top the Eco-Atkins "don't eat" list, while fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, and oats are recommended. When opting for carbs, veggies are best -- try okra and eggplant, which are particularly low in starch.
Reinvent your favorites
If you like burritos, try substituting black beans for beef or switching garbanzo beans or edamame for poultry. White beans can replace meat in spaghetti sauce and other Italian foods, says Jackson Blatner, who further suggests trying pinto beans and black beans in Mexican dishes, and garbanzos in Asian stir-fry and Mediterranean meals.
Remember that it's not all or nothing
Willet suggests trying moderate dietary tweaks, like snacking on a whole-grain cracker with peanut butter as opposed to a chunk of cheese or a slice of bologna. "It doesn't have to be really strict -- niutrition has a lot to do with trade-offs," he says. Just a few days a week of swapping out meat in favor of plant protein can make a difference.
The above article from U.S. News & World Report -- Dec 2010
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