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Newsletter » Vegetarianism Glycemic Index of Foods
Newsletter June 17/01 - Susan Van Dueck

Vegetarianism

  1. Too Many High Glycemic Index Foods Consumed

  2. Textured and Hydrolised Vegetable Protein

  3. Tofu

  4. The Schwarzbein Principle Book

  5. Living Low Carb Book

  6. We Know the Arguments

  7. Organic Meats

  8. Where to Buy Organic Meats

Too Many High Glycemic Index Foods Consumed

Let's discuss vegetarianism. Are we at P.I. Health Services totally against it? No. Do we recommend it? No. Why? Because your good health is our goal, and vegetarians often compromise their health by consuming a lot of high glycemic carbohydrates.

Like all of us, people who choose a vegetarian diet have busy lives. Although we have good intentions, and try to eat sensibly, we all know what it is like to arrive home from work tired from a long day and be faced with the task of preparing a nourishing meal for our families. Especially during the week, it is difficult to find the time to cook from scratch and prepare well-planned meals. We find that a simple salad, steamed vegetables and a piece of chicken, fish or meat is the easiest.

For busy vegetarians, it is far too easy to reach for the pasta or some pre-packaged meat substitute, which is generally made from TVP (textured vegetable protein) and possibly its cousin HVP (hydrolysed vegetable protein).

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Textured and Hydrolised Vegetable Protein

HVP is a flavour enhancer that is sometimes used in soups, broths, sauces, gravies, flavouring and spice blends, canned and frozen vegetables, meats and poultry. It is known to cause migraine headaches in some people (Canadian Medical Association - http://www.cma.ca/cmaj/vol-159/issue-1/0047tab1.htm).

TVP is a protein obtained from any vegetable, including soybeans. The protein is broken down into amino acids by a chemical process called acid hydrolysis. If you notice, on the really cheap cans of tuna, many of them have TVP added to extend the tuna and make you think you are getting a really good deal. You aren't! TVP, in our opinion, is junk food.

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Tofu

But what about tofu you ask? We use it on occasion but not as a rule. Here is a quote from Sally Fallon's book Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats, explaining why too much tofu is detrimental. She is talking about soybeans and tofu in this quote. "Soybeans are high in phytates and contain potent enzyme inhibitors that are only deactivated by fermentation and not by ordinary cooking methods. These inhibitors can lead to protein assimilation problems in those who consume unfermented soy products frequently. Soybeans must not be used like other legumes in soups and other dishes but only as fermented products like miso, natto, and tempeh. It is also a mistake to rely on tofu or bean curd as a protein food because of its high phytate content. Those who wish to eat tofu would be wise to imitate the Japanese who eat small amounts of tofu in fish broth and not as a substitute for animal foods. Soy milk, often substituted for cow's milk, also has a phytate content and can lead to mineral deficiencies. Phytoestrogens found in soy foods, although touted as panaceas for heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis, are potent endocrine disrupters as well as goitrogens--substances that depress thyroid function."

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The Schwarzbein Principle Book

Dr. Diana Schwarzbein (The Schwarzbein Principle: The Truth About Losing Weight, Being Healthy, and Feeling Younger and The Schwarzbein Principle Vegetarian Cookbook) suggests that, in order for vegetarians to eat a proper diet, they emphasize tofu, seeds, legumes, nuts, and whole grains such as barley and quinoa (we'll get to this soon). They should also incorporate essential fats from avocado, olives and cold processed oils.

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We agree with everything except the tofu. However, I can see her dilemma. How can her patients get enough protein on a vegetarian diet without it? Well, it takes a lot of careful planning, more than most are willing to do. She also talks about the theory of putting together, for example, rice and beans to get a complete protein, but comes to the conclusion that the carbohydrate ratio far out weighs the protein.

One cup brown rice = 5 grams of protein/46 grams of carbohydrates

One cup kidney beans = 15 gm protein/40 gm carbohydrates

So, as you can see, you end up with only 20 gm of protein and 86 gm of carbohydrate.

Living Low-Carb Book

Fran McCullough (Living Low-Carb: The Complete Guide to Long Term Low-Carb Dieting) states that it is very difficult to eat a low glycemic diet as a vegetarian, especially if you are vegan (no dairy, eggs or animal proteins). She also says that there is a higher incidence of cancer in vegetarians, and that female vegetarians have a higher rate of death from coronary heart disease than meat eaters. (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1970) This may have to do with deficiencies in carnitine, lysine, taurine, B12, and omega 3 fats... and excesses in omega 6 fats. She concurs with Sally Fallon regarding the problems with high soy diets and adds that soy lowers good cholesterol (HDL) as well as the bad (LDL). So, if you are vegetarian you may want to consider adding some fish or chicken to your diet.

We Know the Arguments

We know the arguments against eating meat very well as Dr. Van Dueck and I have both been vegetarian. However, we never felt well eating that way. I think perhaps part of the answer to our issues around meat eating is to demand, from our meat markets and supermarkets, meats that are organically raised under humane circumstances.

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Organic Meats

Organically raised chickens are readily available from companies such as Maple Hills, Hills Foods and others. They are a little more expensive of course, but if you aren't buying all that high carbohydrate junk food, it should balance out. Organically raised beef is available but is quite expensive. One alternative is lamb. They only eat grass so they are a much healthier choice. Another choice would be fallow deer, which are raised on farms, and other “game” animals, which are becoming more readily available.

Where to Buy Organic Meats

For those of you living in Richmond, Heringer's meats often have game available in the freezer. Just ask.

There is a company called Hills Foods that specializes in game and organic meats. The company is located in Burnaby, B.C. and can be reached at 604-421-3100 or http://www.hillsfoods.com. You can order online!

In a few weeks, I will provide some recipes for game. Hey! What about rabbit? I grew up eating lots of rabbit as my Dad raised them. They were delicious and can be found in specialty meat stores and at Hills Foods.

I hope I haven't offended anyone here. If you are vegetarian and plan on staying that way, all I can say is do your best. Try adding some quinoa to your diet. It is higher in protein than most grains and lower in carbohydrates.

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