Superfoods vs. “Real Food”
July’s Plant Strong box had an emphasis on plant-based foods that have no preservatives, artificial flavors, and is minimally processed. This really focuses on the idea of real, simple food (though we still kept all the snacks at a higher nutrition level than normal). So what is the difference between real food vs. superfood?
Superfoods are real food on hypermode.
It is important to preface that most real, whole, organic food can be considered a superfood to some degree. There is no out-supplementing a bad diet! So first step to holistic health is incorporating whole, fresh, organic, fruits and vegetables into your diet. Superfoods are a way to elevate your health and take it to the next level!
A superfood is anything made in nature that is edible for human consumption with a high nutrient-density (hence super-food). So that means a high amount of nutrients (or in some cases, a particular nutrient) in just one small serving.
Calorie for calorie – here is an example: Acerola cherries (pronounced “Asa-roll-a”) vs. an orange. Just one cherry has 65 times more vitamin C than an orange and about twice the potassium, magnesium, and vitamin B5. Though they share roughly the same calories per serving – one is significantly more nutrient-dense than the other. So when you’re feeling sick – turning to Acerola cherry powder in a smoothie will be more beneficial for your body as a line of immunity defense than a fresh squeezed orange juice!
A healthy, plant-based diet aims to maximize consumption of nutrient-dense plant foods while minimizing processed foods, oils, and animal foods (including dairy products and eggs). It encourages lots of vegetables (cooked or raw), fruits, beans, peas, lentils, soybeans, seeds, and nuts (in small amounts).
The Difference Between Plant-based and Vegan
A plant-based diet can sometimes be confused with vegan or vegetarian. Though they do share similar qualities, they are a few key differences between them:
- Vegan (or total vegetarian): Excludes all animal products, especially meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. Does not require consumption of whole foods or restrict fat or refined sugar.
- Whole-foods, plant-based, low-fat: Encourages plant foods in their whole form, especially vegetables, fruits, legumes, and seeds and nuts (in smaller amounts). For maximal health benefits this diet limits animal products. Total fat is generally restricted.
- Raw food, vegan: Same exclusions as veganism as well as the exclusion of all foods cooked at temperatures greater than 118°F.
- Lacto-vegetarian: Excludes eggs, meat, seafood, and poultry and includes milk products.
- Ovo-vegetarian: Excludes meat, seafood, poultry, and dairy products and includes eggs.
- Lacto-ovo vegetarian: Excludes meat, seafood, and poultry and includes eggs and dairy products.
- Mediterranean: Similar to whole-foods, plant-based diet but allows small amounts of chicken, dairy products, eggs, and red meat once or twice per month. Fish and olive oil are encouraged. Fat is not restricted.
A plant-based diet is still a balanced diet without animal protein.
An interesting thing we learned throughout our plant-based research is that eating animal products causes stiffening of our arteries and releases endotoxins from bacteria in our gut which in turn causes inflammation (an immune response to a perceived threat). Going plant-based acts as an anti-inflammatory diet to quickly reduce bloating, and see the reversal effects of inflammation. As soon as you break the inflammation cycle by removing animal protein, you could begin seeing the changes in your body in as little as ONE DAY!
Here’s an interesting fact….ALL PROTEIN IS INITIALLY MADE BY PLANTS – via the nitrogen cycle. It is in all amino acids, is incorporated into proteins, and is present in the bases that make up nucleic acids, such as DNA and RNA.
All protein is originally made by plants. Only plants have the ability to take nitrogen into amino acids to make protein. Any protein you get from an animal has been recycled from a plant protein.
Nitrates are a form of nitrogen that is usable by plants. It is assimilated into plant tissue as protein. The nitrogen is passed through the food chain by animals that consume the plants, and then released into the soil by decomposed bacteria when they die. Source
Could Plant-Based Help Reverse Disease?
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that a plant-based diet has significant health benefits. In a recent scientific study 94% of participants were able to reverse cardiovascular disease through a plant based diet. It can also be concluded that Crohn’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis remission rates are the best ever achieved through a plant-based diet approach.
Do We Have To Eat Meat To Get Enough Protein?
As we learned above, all protein originates from PLANTS and then is recycled when eaten by a carnivore. For that reason alone, one could suggest that you don’t need meat to maintain a diet rich in protein. A middle-aged woman should get about 46 grams of protein per day, and men about 56 grams. This is easily achievable through a combination of fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes. Here is a list of high-protein plant-based foods:
- Green peas – One cup contains 7.9 grams—about the same as a cup of milk.
- Quinoa – more than 8 grams per cup, including all nine essential amino acids that the body needs for growth and repair
- Nuts and nut butter – All nuts contain both healthy fats and protein, making them a valuable part of a plant-based diet. But because they are high in calories—almonds, cashews, and pistachios for example, all contain 160 calories and 5 or 6 grams of protein per ounce—choose varieties that are raw or dry roasted
- Beans – Two cups of kidney beans, for example, contain about 26 grams (almost the same as a Big Mac, which has 25 grams!).
- Chickpeas – They contain 7.3 grams of protein in just half a cup, and are also high in fiber and low in calories.
- Tempeh and tofu – Tempeh and tofu, for example, contain about 15 and 20 grams per half cup, respectively.
- Edamame – Boiled edamame, which contains 8.4 grams of protein per half cup, can be served hot or cold and sprinkled with salt.
- Leafy greens – Two cups of raw spinach, for example, contain 2.1 grams of protein, and one cup of chopped broccoli contains 8.1 grams.
- Hemp seeds- you can find it in some cereals and trail mixes, or you can buy hemp seeds (10 grams of protein in 3 tablespoons) and add them to smoothies, pestos, or baked goods.
- Chia seeds – an easy way to add protein (4.7 grams per ounce, about two tablespoons) and fiber to almost any recipe
- Sesame, sunflower and poppy seeds – Per volume, sunflower seed kernels contain the most protein—7.3 grams per quarter cup—followed by sesame seeds and poppy seeds at 5.4 grams each.
- Seitan – seitan is made from wheat gluten, seasoned with salt and savory flavors and loaded with protein—36 grams per half cup, more than either tofu or tempeh