From Dr. Fuhrman's book Disease Proof Your Child:
When you eat to maximize micronutrients, your body function will improve; chronic illnesses like high blood pressure, Type II diabetes, and high cholesterol will likely disappear; and your youthful vigor will last into old age. Heart disease and cancer, the major killers of modern societies, would fade away and be exceedingly rare occurrences if the population adopted a cancer-preventive diet style and lifestyle. And we would hardly ever see any overweight children.
Maintaining a population of normal-weight individuals can be efficiently accomplished only by eating more high-nutrient foods, foods with higher nutrient-per-calorie ratio. The foods with the most nutrients per calorie are vegetables and beans. Vegetables are also very rich in protein and calcium. Most vegetables have more protein per calorie than meat and more calcium per calorie than milk. Nobody can consume too little protein by eating less animal products and substituting vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds.
The focus on the importance of protein in the diet is one of the major reasons we have been led down the wrong path to dietary suicide. We were taught to equate protein with good nutrition and have though animal products, not vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds, are our best source of protein. We bought a false bill of goods, and the dairy-and-meat-heavy diet brought fourth a heart attack and cancer epidemic.
If we hear something over and over since we were young children, we just accept it as true. For example, it is myth repeated over and over that plant proteins are "incomplete" and need to be "complemented" for adequate protein. In fact, all vegetables and grains contain all eight of the essential amino acids (as well as the 12 other nonessential ones).1 While some vegetables have higher or lower proportions of certain amino acids than others, when eaten in amounts to satisfy one's caloric needs, a sufficient amount of all essential amino acids are provided. Because digestive secretions and sloughed-off mucosal cells are constantly recycled and reabsorbed, the amino acid composition in the bloodstream after meals is remarkably complete in spite of short-term irregularities in their dietary supply.
It is interesting to note that peas, green vegetables, and beans have more protein per calorie than meat. But what is not generally considered is that foods that are rich in plant protein are generally the foods that are richest in nutrients and phytochemicals. By eating more of these high-nutrient, low calorie foods we get plenty of protein, and our bodies get flooded with protective micronutrients simultaneously. Animal protein does not contain antioxidants and phtyochemicals, plant protein does. Plus, animal protein is married to saturated fat, the most dangerous type of fat.
|Food||Grams of Protein|
|Almonds (3 oz)||10|
|Broccoli (2 cups)||10|
|Brown Rice (1 cup)||5|
|Chickpeas (1 cup)||15|
|Corn (1 cup)||4.2|
|Lentils (1 cup)||18|
|Peas--frozen (1 cup)||9|
|Spinach--frozen (1 cup)||7|
|Tofu (4 ounces)||11|
|Whole wheat bread (2 slices)||5|
Even a professional body builder who wants to build one-half pound of extra muscle per week only needs about an extra seven grams per day over a normal protein intake. No Complicated formulas or protein supplements are needed to get sufficient protein for growth, even in the serious athlete. Exercise increases hunger, and as the athlete consumes more calories to meet the demands of exercise, they will naturally get the extra protein they need. Many world-class athletes thrive at world-class competitions on vegetarian and vegan diets.
When you reduce or eliminate animal protein intake and increase vegetable protein intake, you lower cholesterol radically. Vegetables, beans, and nuts and seeds are all rich in protein, and they also have no saturated fat or cholesterol. But the clincher is that they are higher in nutrients than any other foods. We must structure our diets around the foods that supply the most micronutrients.
The cholesterol-lowering effects of vegetables and beans (high protein foods) are without question. When adult subjects are feed a vegetable-based diet, cholesterol levels drop radically, much more than with the most powerful cholesterol-lowering drugs.2 These foods also contain an assortment of heart disease-fighting nutrients independent of their ability to lower cholesterol, and they fight cancer, too.
1. Young VR, Pellett PL. Plant proteins in relation to human protein and amino acid nutrition. Am J Clin Nutr 1994;59 (suppl 5): 1203S-1212S.
2. Jenkins DJ, Kendall CW, Popovich, et al. Effects of a very-high-fiber vegetable fruit and nut diet on serum lipids and colonic function. Metabolism 2001:50(4);494-503.