VEGETARIANISM IN A NUTSHELL

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Heart Healthy Diets: The Vegetarian Way


Heart Healthy Diets

Heart healthy diets are low in saturated fat, low in cholesterol, low to moderate in fat, and high in fiber. A vegetarian diet can easily meet these guidelines. Vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, or poultry.

Heart-Healthy Cooking

* Here are guidlelines for heart-healthy cooking:

Heart-Healthy Shopping

* Here are guidelines for heart-healthy shopping:

Heart Healthy Eating Out

* Here are guidelines for heart-healthy eating out:

Saturated vs. Unsaturated Fats

Saturated fats and trans fatty acids are the kinds of fats most likely to cause heart disease. Saturated fats are found mainly in animal products (eggs, butter, cheese, whole milk, and whole milk products), and in coconut, palm, and palm kernel oil. Trans fatty acids appear in foods containing hydrogenated fats like margarine and crackers. To reduce the risk of heart disease, replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats like canola oil, olive oil, flax seed oil, nuts, avocado, soy products, and nut butters. Choose margarine, cookies, crackers, and snack foods that do not contain hydro-genated fats (read the label).

Is Cholesterol Found in Foods Vegetarians Eat?

Cholesterol is found in foods from animals. Eggs and dairy products do have cholesterol. Grains, legumes, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and vegetable oils do not have cholesterol or only contain insignificant amounts. We do not need any cholesterol in our diets since our bodies can make all the cholesterol we need. High blood cholesterol levels are associated with diets high in saturated fat and cholesterol.

Fiber

Fiber is found only in plant foods. A vege-tarian diet featuring fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals, and dried beans will be high in fiber. Oats, carrots, fruits, and beans are especially high in one kind of fiber that helps to lower blood cholesterol.

Saturated fat, cholesterol, fiber — Does this sound like too much to think about? Try to make food choices that emphasize whole grains, dried beans, vegetables, and fruit. If you do this and follow a vegetarian diet, you'll find that, without much effort, your diet will be low in saturated fat and cholesterol and high in fiber.

How Much Fat Should We Eat?

Experts do not agree about the ideal level of dietary fat and, in fact, there may not be just one ideal level. A reasonable goal for most people would be to have saturated fat pro-viding no more than 8-10% of calories and a total fat intake between 15 and 30% of total calories. Fat intakes at the higher end of this range, when the fat is monounsaturated fat (nuts, seeds, olive oil, canola oil, avocado), may be a better choice than restriction of all types of dietary fat. Fat should not be limited in children less than 2 years. After 2 years, children should gradually limit dietary fat so that by around age 5, between 20 and 30 per-cent of calories come from fat. This type of diet should be used throughout childhood and adolescence.

In practical terms, what does 30% or less of calories from fat mean?

If you usually eat this many calories: Your fat intake should be no more than: Your saturated fat intake should be no more than:(gms)
1600 53 grams 17 grams
2000 66 grams 22 grams
2200 73 grams 24 grams

The following table shows the amount of fat in many foods vegetarians eat. To find out how much fat is in other foods you buy, you will need to read labels.

Keep a record of how much fat you eat for a week or two. Do you need to change your eating habits?

FAT IN SELECTED VEGETARIAN FOODS
Food Saturated fat (gm) Fat (gm)
Butter, 1 pat2.54
Margarine, soft, 1 pat 0-1 4
Salad dressing, creamy, 2 Tbsp 1-2 10
Vegetable oil, 1 Tbsp 1 14
Nuts and Seeds, 1 oz 2 16
Peanut butter, 1 Tbsp 1 8
Cooked beans, 1 cup 0 1
Egg, 1 large 1.5 5
Fat-free milk, 1 cup Trace Trace
Soy milk, 1 cup 0 3-5
Whole milk, 1 cup 5 8
Cheese, 3 ounces 18 28
Fruit, 1 medium 0 0
Grains, cooked, 1 cup 0 1
Vegetables, 1 cup 0 0-1
Bread, 1 slice Trace 1
Potato Chips, 1 oz 3 10
French fries, 10 2 8
Olive, 1 large Trace <1
Avocado, half 2 15

CHOLESTEROL IN VEGETARIAN FOODS
Food Cholesterol (mg)
Butter, 1 pat 11
Egg, 1 large 212
Nonfat milk, 1 cup 4
Whole milk, 1 cup 33
Cheese, 3 oz 90
Soy milk, fruit, vegetables, grains dried beans, nuts 0

What About Soy?

Soy foods like tofu, tempeh, meat analogs, soy milk, and other products appear to help reduce the risk of heart disease. This may be because of plant estrogens, called isoflavones, found in soy products or may be due to the cholesterol-lowering effect of soy protein. In any case, in-cluding a serving or two of soy products daily can enhance a heart healthy vegetarian diet.

Vitamin B12 and Heart Disease

Adequacy of vitamin B12 appears to be important in reducing heart disease risk. Vegetarians with low blood vitamin B12 levels appear to have higher levels of a substance called homocysteine, associated with in-creased risk of heart disease. To insure adequate intakes of vitamin B12, vegetarians who eat little or no animal-derived products should use a reliable source of vitamin B12 like fortified soymilk, Vegetarian Support Formula nutritional yeast, fortified breakfast cereal, or a vitamin B12 supplement daily.

Anything Else?

Vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and flavonoids also appear to be important in the prevention of heart disease. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits and juices, cantaloupe, broccoli, and tomatoes. Vegetable oils, dark green vegetables, nuts, avocados, and whole grains provide generous amounts of vitamin E. Good sources of beta-carotene include orange and dark yellow vegetables like carrots, winter squash, and pumpkin. Flavonoids are found in fruits, vegetables, grape juice, and tea. Nuts appear to reduce risk of heart disease.

Additional Resources

Simply Vegan by Debra Wasserman and Reed Mangels, Ph.D., R.D., The Vegetarian Resource Group, 1999. ($13)

Everyday Cooking with Dr. Dean Ornish: 150 Easy, Low Fat, High Flavor Recipes by Dean Ornish, M.D., Harper Collins, 1997.

The Lowfat Jewish Vegetarian Cookbook by Debra Wasserman, The Vegetarian Resource Group, 1994. ($15)

No Cholesterol Passover Recipes by Debra Wasserman and Charles Stahler, The Vegetarian Resource Group, 1995. ($9)

Delicious Food for a Healthy Heart, by Joanne Stepan- iak, Book Publishing Company, 1999.

Lean, Luscious, and Meatless by Bobbie Hinman, Prima Publishing, revised 1997.

So You Have High Blood Cholesterol..., NHLBI Infor- mation Center, PO Box 30105, Bethesda, MD 20824.

For additional information and our full publication list write to The Vegetarian Resource Group, PO Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203; call us at (410) 366-8343.

Guide to Natural Foods Restaurants in the United States and Canada

I am trying to eat healthier, but what do I do when traveling?

The Vegetarian Resource Group answers this question in Vegetarian Journal's Guide to Natural Foods Restaurants in the United States and Canada -expanded third edition- from Avery Publishing Group. The 371-page book, with an introduction by Lindsay Wagner, describes over 2,000 restaurants and vacation spots.

To order Vegetarian Journal's Guide to Natural Foods Restaurants in the United States and Canada, send $16 to The Vegetarian Resource Group, PO Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203. Call (410) 366-VEGE to charge your order on a Visa or Mastercard. Or better yet, order online.

Brochure "reprint" from The Vegetarian Resource Group, PO Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203; (410) 366-VEGE. Via email: vrg@vrg.org



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Last Updated
November 2, 2000

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