The Vegan Diet – introductory healthy eating and nutritional tips for following the Vegan Diet

Hi again, this is later than promised. I’m catching up after a busy weekend.

The vegan diet contains only plant based foods and is completely free of meat, poultry, fish and any animal products i.e. eggs and dairy. People are on a vegan diet for numerous reasons i.e. weight management, environmental concerns, family influences.

Proper planning is essential when on a vegan diet. Food preparation and food choice are important as all protein, vitamins and minerals come from non animal sources. Food can be prepared at home. There are some ready made vegan meals available in large supermarkets and specialist stores. Vegan options are also available in restaurants.

Things to consider when following a vegan diet include considering alternative sources for the below nutrients:

Vitamin B12 – vegans should include fortified vitamin B12 foods such as soya milk, desserts and yoghurts, breakfast cereals and nutritional yeast (always remember to check the food label before buying).

Iron – red meat is the most easily absorbed iron source. Plant foods contain only nonheme iron. Vitamin C enhances the absorption of iron. Alternative plant sources include beans/lentils, dark leafy green vegetables, nuts, fortified breakfast cereals.

Calcium – to maintain high calcium levels, include plenty of the following tofu, calcium fortified foods i.e. yoghurts, soya milk, fruit juice, nuts, brown/white bread.

Vitamin D – Spending time in the sun boosts Vitamin D levels. Foods that contain fortified Vitamin D include fortified breakfast cereals, fortified yoghurts and soya milks.

Omega-3 fatty acids – good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include canola oil, tofu, flaxseeds/flaxseed oil, walnuts/walnut oil, soybeans/soybean oil.

Zinc – good sources of zinc include soybeans and other beans, wholegrains, nuts, seeds, some fortified cereals.

Healthy Benefits of the Vegan Diet –

A well planned and nutritional vegan diet can have a very positive impact on health. These include:

Zero animal fats: Animal fats have been linked to conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and various cancers. Plant based oils and fats such as olive oil provide the necessary fatty acids without raising low density lipoprotein cholesterol.

Reduced cancer risk: Meat eaters are at an increased risk of prostrate and colorectal cancers. The Vegan diet contains higher volumes of fruits, vegetables, fibre and legumes which are believed to protect against various cancers.

Heart health: People on a vegan diet take in fewer calories than those on a standard Western diet. This can result in a lower Body Mass Index and a decreased obesity risk. Reduced levels of harmful cholesterol can have a decreased risk of mortality from ischemic heart disease than meat eaters.

Lower mortality rate: Eating red and processed meats are linked to increased risk of premature deaths. This suggests that not eating meat redcues the overall risk of premature deaths.

Protection against chronic disease: Plant based diets can counteract an individual’s genetic likelihood of developing chronic diseases i.e. type 2 diabetes.  Researchers maintain that antioxidants in plant foods can fight free radical cells that cause inflammation and cell damage. Other plant compounds assist in controlling different genes linked to tumour growth, cardiovascular disease and arterial plaque.

Please see below link from Brenda Davis, registered dietician and nutritionist about  The Vegan Plate.

Tomorrow I will blog about nutrition and genetics and the relationship between Nutrition, Genes and Health!

Bananas – Nutritional Information and Healthy Facts

A medium sized banana contains around 105 calories. The average banana offers a portable snack that can be eaten on the go. This is ideal for athletes. Bananas are very versatile. They can used in smoothies, added to wholemeal toast and added also to yoghurts. Bananas can even be used in muffins.

Bananas are a rich source of carbohydrates. The carbohydrate content of bananas changes a lot during ripening. The main carbohydrate component of unripe bananas is starch. On a dry weight basis, green bananas contain up to 70 to 80 percent starch. The starch in bananas is converted into sugars during ripening. The most common types of sugar found in ripening bananas include sucrose, fructose and glucose.

A large proportion of starch found in unripe bananas is resistant starch. This resistant starch is resistant to digestion and is therefore a type of fibre. Bananas are also a good source of pectin which is another type of fibre. Some of the pectin in bananas is water soluble. Both pectin and resistant starch moderate the blood sugar rise after a meal. Bananas therefore have a low glycaemic index. Glycaemic index is a measure of the impact of food on our blood sugar.

Bananas are a very good source of vitamin B6. Bananas are also a good source of manganese, vitamin C, potassium, biotin and copper.  One medium sized banana can provide up to one third of the recommended daily intake of vitamin B6. Potassium is an essential mineral for the maintenance of normal blood pressure and heart function. The inclusion of bananas in your diet protect against atherosclerosis and help in the prevention of high blood pressure. Eating two bananas per day has been proven to lower blood pressure by ten percent.

Bananas contains small amounts of sterols i.e. sitosterol, campesterol, stigmastoral. These sterols block the absorption of dietary cholesterol and therefore help in keeping our blood cholesterol levels in check.

Bananas can help to relieve gastrointestinal illnesses. Bananas are part of the BRAT diet (Bananas, Rice Applesauce and Dry Toast). These are foods that assist in relieving diarrhoea and upset stomach. Bananas are easy to digest and non irritating to the gastrointestinal tract.

Bananas should be firm but not too hard. Bananas should have their stems and tips intact. Bananas are actually very fragile. Bananas should be left to ripening at room temperature. Bananas should not be subjected to overly cold or hot temperatures. You should not place unripe bananas in the fridge because this will interrupt the ripening process. Bananas can be frozen for approximately two months. Bananas can be pureed before freezing or placed in a plastic wrap once the peel has been removed.

Tomorrow I will blog about the health benefits of a vegan diet.



Catriona’s Nutrition Blog

Welcome to Catriona’s Nutrition Blog. This is my first time blogging, excited about this! My blog will provide interesting and educational nutrition blogs.

I have an academic background in human nutrition and food science. I completed a BSc (Hons) Human Nutrition with DIS (Diploma in Industrial Studies) and a MSc in Food Science.

New Year and new beginnings. What will 2018 bring in relation to nutrition and healthy eating? Where is nutrition advice heading? How relevant is nutrition in everyday life?

Healthy eating on a budget is especially important in January after all our Christmas spending. Here are some healthy eating tips on a budget to get us through the end of winter and into spring. Time is important too. Most of us do not have the time to spend hours over the cooker or in the kitchen preparing meals. Time is precious!





Mood Enhancing Foods!

Food and mood, eating a poor diet can damage your mood. One of the major factors in mood enhancing foods is serotonin. High levels of serotonin keep a person relaxed and calm, with high concentration levels. Serotonin is responsible for mood, sleep and appetite levels. Unhappy feelings can be caused by low serotonin levels. Foods with high levels of serotonin include turkey, chicken and fish. High fibre cereals, bananas and whole grain products can also boost mood.

Fat is important in good mood food categories. Foods with high fat content release endorphins (which makes the person happy). Remember to stick with healthy fats i.e. fish oils. Other good mood foods include those high in protein. Protein contains tyrosine which increases dopamine and norepinephrine levels – chemicals responsible for alertness and excitement.

Good mood foods also include foods high in essential vitamins and minerals. Lack of folic acid in the diet is a factor in depression. Foods high in folic acid include turkey, leafy vegetables and asparagus. A lack of selenium in diets can contribute to anxious, unhappy feelings. Foods rich in selenium include tuna, eggs and wholegrains.

Click on below Amazon link

A list of mood enhancing foods include:

Salmon: Full of omega-3 fatty acids, salmon is important for brain activity, energy production and circulation. Salmon is good for a healthy heart. Wild caught salmon contains double the recommended daily amount of vitamin B12. (Vitamin B12 consumption contributes to good mental health).

Bananas: rich in B vitamins and potassium which provide a more sustained release of energy. The vitamins and minerals in bananas enable you to feel full, slows down digestion and keep blood sugar levels stable.

Coconuts: oils in coconuts provide medium chain triglycerides, a type of fat that is turned into energy quickly and efficiently. Coconuts are used by the body to produce energy (rather than store it as fat). Coconuts prevent you from feeling sluggish.

Lentils: Lentils and other legumes i.e. chickpeas and kidney beans help stabilize blood glucose levels and prevent mid afternoon energy slumps. Having lentils at lunch will stretch your energy levels that bit further.

Eggs: a good source of protein and iron. Eggs are also rich in B vitamins which convert food into energy. With eggs you get sustainable energy which will last throughout the day.

Nuts: hazelnuts, almonds and cashews are high in magnesium which play a major role in the conversion of sugar into energy. Nuts are filled with fibre which keep blood sugar levels even. A handful or two of nuts is good to use as a snack. It is important to remember that nuts are high in calories and fat.

Asparagus: Low energy levels affect your mood. Asparagus is one of the best plant based sources of tryptophan which helps to create serotonin. Serotonin is one of the brain’s main mood regulating neurotransmitters. The high levels of folate in asparagus also contribute to feeling good.

I will write about bananas and interesting nutritional facts about them next week on my blog.Watch this space!

Nutritious Tasty Food on a Budget

Beat any January blues with nutritious tasty food on a budget. Here are some tips about buying, preparing and eating nutritious food on a budget.

Waste nothing: Buy foods that you will eat. Planning meals in advance avoids wastage. Search online for discounts and vouchers before you go shopping.

Buy frozen fruit and vegetables: There is less preparation time involved when using frozen fruit and vegetables. Frozen fruit and vegetables come pre-chopped. Frozen fruit and vegetables are often a cheaper option. Remember to avoid using those with added fat, sugar or salt.

Eat more vegetables: Meat and fish are generally the most expensive ingredients of a meal. Add more vegetables to dishes. Eat a few vegetarian meals per week which helps keep costs down.

Eggs are a good meat substitute, they are cheap,  nutritious and high in protein i.e. vegetable omelette, vegetarian quiche and even scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast.

Cook Using Pulses: Peas, beans and lentils are cheap vegetables. Pulses are low in calories and fat. Pulses are full of fibre, minerals and vitamins. Pulses can be used in main meals to replace some of the meat, for example chilli con carne with kidney beans.

Buy Chicken Whole: My husband is always saying this and practices this regularly. From a whole chicken you get two breasts, wings, thighs and drumsticks. These portions can be frozen separately. The carcass can also be used when making stock and soups.

Compare pre-packed fruit and vegetables prices with loose: Fruit and vegetables can be more expensive when pre-packed. Check the price per kilo. Pre-packed fruit and vegetables are not always the freshest.

Supermarkets discount fresh items towards the end of the day. Reduced foods to clear can save lots of money. Remember to check the best before and use by dates.

Beat the winter blues with mood enhancing foods – my topic for tomorrow!

Amazon’s Choice for ‘coconut oil’

Catriona’s Nutrition Blog

Hi and welcome to Catriona’s Nutrition Blog. This is my first time blogging, I’m excited about this! This blog provides interesting and educational nutrition posts.

I have an academic background in human nutrition and food science. I completed a BSc (Hons) Human Nutrition with DIS (Diploma in Industrial Studies) and MSc in Food Science.

New Year and new beginnings. What will 2018 bring in relation to nutrition and healthy eating? Nutrition on a budget is especially important in January after all our Christmas spending. Time is precious. Most of us do not have the time to spend hours over the cooker or in the kitchen preparing meals.

Come back tomorrow for healthy eating tips on a budget that will get us through the end of winter and into spring.