The best source of vitamins? Your plate, not your medicine cabinet image:
Vitamin and mineral supplements from a bottle simply can't match all the biologically active compounds teeming in a well-stocked pantry.
By focusing on the big picture, it's easy to get plenty of vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients you need to keep you healthy and prevent disease. Here are some tips.
Fiber- It's the part of plant foods that we can't digest. Eating foods high in fiber helps reduce total and LDL ("bad") cholesterol, improves blood sugar control and prevents constipation. High-fiber foods also help with weight loss by making you feel full.
There are lots of high-fiber foods to choose from:
- brown rice
- bulgur (cracked wheat)
- beans and lentils
Vitamins and Minerals- Vitamins are organic substances found in plants and animals. Minerals are inorganic elements from the earth (soil and water). Both are essential for normal growth and optimal health.
Here's a list of vitamins and minerals that are crucial for good health, plus the best food sources of each:
- Iron — meat, poultry, fish, and beans
- Vitamin A — carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, male
- Vitamin B12 — meat, poultry, fish
- Eating dairy products is one of the simplest ways to get enough vitamin B12 in a vegetarian diet.
- Yogurt low-fat
- Milk fortified
- Milk, cheese, eggs
- Fortified cereals nutritional yeast are a good source of it B12 in vegetarians
- Vitamin E — nuts, seeds, vegetable oil phytochemicals.
Phytochemicals - are chemicals made by plants. They are not essential to life, but they do have a positive effect on health. Diets rich in phytochemicals have been associated with a lower risk of chronic diseases, such as cancer and heart disease. They are found in fruits, vegetables, beans, and grains.
The following is a list of key phytochemicals, plus the best food sources of each.
- flavonoids — blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries
- carotenoids — orange vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and winter squash
- lycopene — tomatoes are of flavones — soy foods, such as soybeans (or edamame)
- resveratrol — red grape
- catechins — teas
Nutritional value of protein
The nutritional value of a protein is measured by the number of essential amino acids it contains.
Different foods contain different amounts of essential amino acids. Generally:
- Animal products (such as chicken, beef, or fish, and dairy products) have all of the essential amino acids and are known as 'complete' protein (or ideal or high-quality protein).
- Soy products, quinoa, and the seed of a leafy green called amaranth (consumed in Asia and the Mediterranean) also have all of the essential amino acids.
- Plant proteins (beans, lentils, nuts, and whole grains) usually lack at least one of the essential amino acids and are considered 'incomplete' proteins.
People following a strict vegetarian or vegan diet need to choose a variety of protein sources from a combination of plant foods every day to make sure they get an adequate mix of essential amino acids.
If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, as long as you eat a wide variety of foods, you can usually get the protein you need. For example, a meal containing cereals and legumes, such as baked beans on toast, provides all the essential amino acids found in a typical meat dish.
Some food sources of dietary protein include:
- lean meats – beef, lamb, veal, pork, kangaroo
- poultry – chicken, turkey, duck, emu, goose, bush birds
- fish and seafood – fish, prawns, crab, lobster, mussels, oysters, scallops, clams
- dairy products – milk, yogurt (especially Greek yogurt), cheese (especially cottage cheese)
- nuts (including nut pastes), and seeds – almonds, pine nuts, walnuts, macadamias, hazelnuts, cashews, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds legumes, and beans – all beans, lentils, chickpeas, split peas, tofu.
Some grain and cereal-based products are also sources of protein but are generally not as high in protein as meat and meat alternative products.
Very high protein diets are dangerous
Some fad diets promote very high protein intakes of between 200 and 400g per day. This is more than five times the amount recommended in the Australian Dietary Guidelines.
The protein recommendations in the Guidelines provide enough protein to build and repair muscles, even for bodybuilders and athletes. A very high-protein diet can strain the kidneys and liver. It can also prompt excessive loss of the mineral calcium, which can increase your risk of osteoporosis.