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Top 10 Food For Healthy Diet (Part 4)

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8.    It's hard to get sufficient protein from a vegetarian or vegan diet.

(Vegans eat no animal products, including dairy and eggs.) "It's not hard at all," stresses Doug McNish, a raw/vegan chef in Toronto and author of Eat Raw, Eat Well: 400Raw, Vegan and Gluten-Free Recipes (Robert Rose, 2012). ("Raw chef?" Isn't that a contradiction? Nope. For more information on what raw-food preparation involves, see the sidebar above.) A wide variety of plant foods contain protein, including beans, legumes, nuts and nut butters, and seeds. "Hemp seed is probably my favorite source," McNish says. "One tablespoon contains up to 5 grams of protein, which is equivalent to an egg. If you sprinkle three tablespoons of hemp seed on a salad, that's 15 grams." (Many bulk-food and health food stores stock hemp seed.)

Description: It's hard to get sufficient protein from a vegetarian or vegan diet

It's hard to get sufficient protein from a vegetarian or vegan diet

That alone makes a sizable dent in the minimum 0.8 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight that's recommended for a relatively sedentary person, or even the 1.2 to 1.7 grams/kilo suggested for more athletic, active people. (How do those numbers add up? "If someone weighs 60 kilograms, that'sroughly60 grams of protein," says Lindzie O'Reilly, lead dietitian with the Health and Performance Centre at the University of Guelph. "If you spread that over the course of a day, that might mean aiming for 15 grams at each meal and five to 10 grams for snacks.")

Incidentally, vegetarian food has come a long way since the days of bland brown rice and limp sprouts: you can now easily find recipes for delicious vegan versions of everything from brownies to gravy and soup stock. Of course, that brings us to correct another myth; that a food is free of animal products doesn't necessarily mean it's inherently healthy. For instance, french fries made in vegetable oil are vegan.

9.    All soy-based foods are nutritious and/or heart-healthy.

Some soy-based products, such as certain veggie dogs and cold cuts, are highly processed, making them foods that should be consumed sparingly. For instance, "Many soy protein bars and frozen soy patties are made with soy protein isolate," Tsang explains, meaning that they contain only a fraction of the nutrients found in whole soybeans, and in a highly refined form. "I've even seen light soy milks made with water and soy flour," she adds. Such products are unlikely to confer benefits comparable to those of less processed soy foods, which have been shown to curb high blood pressure, reduce unhealthy LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, buoy levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol, and improve blood-vessel elasticity. Consequently, Tsang suggests that, when choosing soy foods, you scan the ingredients list for the words "whole soy" or "whole soybeans."

Description: Heart healthy food is delicious and nutritious.

Heart healthy food is delicious and nutritious

10.  Artificial sweeteners lead to weight gain.

While some studies have found that diet-soda drinkers, for example, tend to gain more weight or grow larger around the waist than do people who avoid the stuff, the University of Ottawa's Dr. Freedhoff emphasizes that such research doesn't support the theory that artificial sweeteners or other ingredients in diet soda are the under lying cause. The purported link could be due to other factors, such as the possibility that people who drink diet soda overestimate the number of calories they've "saved" and splurge excessively elsewhere ("I skipped the sugary soda, so I'll get bacon and cheese on my burger and upsize my fries.")

Description: Artificial sweeteners lead to weight gain

Artificial sweeteners lead to weight gain

In fact, the purported connection between weight gain and sugar substitutes dissolves in higher-quality research. "In virtually every study I've come across looking at artificial sweeteners for weight loss or weight management, artificial sweeteners have been shown to be beneficial," Freedhoff says. "They have not been linked to weight gain."

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