Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘vegan health’

We know that foods derived from animal products (meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy products) aren’t necessary to live a long and healthy life – in fact, quite the contrary. These protein sources aside, active people should take care to get enough protein in their diets. After all, when one is training, one is breaking down muscle tissue (you know this is happening when you feel the “burn” caused by the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles) and protein is necessary for the recovery and rebuilding process. Vegan athletes have to pay more attention to dietary choices and food combinations in order ensure the absorption of enough high-quality protein.

What May Be Missing

In addition to protein, vegans may be missing the following nutrients in their diet:

  • iron
  • calcium
  • vitamins B-12 and D
  • zinc

Iron is quite important for building muscle and endurance. If you aren’t going to get this from beef, you should try to eat the following on a regular basis:

  • whole grain cereals fortified with iron
  • legumes (beans, peas and peanuts)
  • dried fruit (especially raisins)
  • cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage)

In addition, you can combine these with foods high in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits and berries.  This will aid your body in absorbing and utilizing iron.

In lieu of dairy products, load up on fortified soy products as well as leafy greens to keep bones strong with sufficient calcium.  Mustard greens, kale and chard are powerhouse foods in this regard, as well as dried figs. Sesame seeds are also a decent source of calcium, and a unique form of nut butter made from sesame, called tahini, is available in many Middle Eastern specialty stores and combines well with sweet as well as savory foods.

Protein?

Rice and beans together make a complete protein – or almost any combination of grain and legumes. However, peanuts (which are actually legumes, not nuts) and soybeans provide complete proteins that are of the same quality as that derived from fish, poultry, dairy or eggs. Most tree nuts are also good sources of protein, and provide the additional benefit of healthy oils, such as omega-3 (also found in olive oil).

The Tough Ones

Vitamin B-12 is essential for metabolism and making use of the energy stored in food. Unfortunately, the only reliable source of this nutrient is in animal-based foods. Whole grains cereals and soy milk are often vitamin B-12 fortified, but one would have to consume a great deal in order to get this nutrient in sufficient amounts from these vegetable-based sources alone. Therefore, vegan athletes may need to take B-12 supplements.

The same is true of zinc, which is vital for healthy respiratory and digestive functions. Fortunately, these supplements are not expensive – so make certain you have these on hand, especially when in training.

By Sasha Britton for Gym Source.com

~The Vegan Project

Read Full Post »

Feeling a bit weak or low on energy?  After eating this yummy salad, you can practically feel the nutrients feeding your muscles (recipe below).

The consumption of adequate protein is a primary concern to the discerning vegan.  In fact, the most common question I get from other athletes is ‘how do you get enough protein in a vegan diet?’  It’s definitely something to be conscious of.  Protein is necessary to feed your muscles, and deterioration of lean muscle mass is not something you want to experience.  Not only can your lean muscle mass decrease, which can lead to unwanted weight gain, but weak muscles are much more susceptible to injury.

Protein sources closest to their original state are ideal for assimilation.  For example, a raw organic sunflower seed is considerably less altered when compared to a packaged, processed protein supplement deriving amino acids from soy, pea, hemp, etc.  I have nothing against protein supplements –  I use them every day – but the more natural fuel you can give your body, the better.

Enjoy this delicious, warm salad made with kale, one of the most nutrient-dense veggies available, and packed with protein, vitamins, essential fatty acids and fiber.

Salad Ingredients:

2 bunches of kale, de-stemmed

½ tomato, sliced

½ avocado, sliced (2 grams protein)

1 stalk of celery, finely chopped

4 tbsp sunflower seeds (12 grams protein)

4 tbsp hemp hearts (16 grams protein)

1/8 cup loosely packed dulse, ground in a coffee grinder

Lightly steam chopped kale leaves (1-2 minutes max) until bright green.  Spin wet leaves in a salad spinner to dry excess water.  In a bowl, toss dressing and kale until leaves are fully coated (careful not to use too much dressing, yields will vary).  Plate the greens (makes 2 meal-size portions) and add celery, avocado and tomatoes.  Sprinkle sunflower seeds, hemp hearts and dulse evenly and top with a drizzle of dressing, sesame oil and rock salt.

Dressing:

1/3 cup of tahini

1 ½ to 2 lemons, juiced

¼ cup of rice milk

1 clove of garlic

1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

½ tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend for about a minute. Add salt and lemon to taste.  It should have the consistency of a Caesar dressing.

It’s so healthy, your mother would be proud!  This dish takes nearly all common allergies into consideration, so keep it in mind if you’re having a super picky eater over for dinner.

~The Vegan Project

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: