Whaddaya Know?

By Chipley, Abigail | Vegetarian Times, November 2001 | Go to article overview

Whaddaya Know?


Chipley, Abigail, Vegetarian Times


nutrition know-how

Take this pop quiz and find out

1. Who were the first vegetarians?

a. Prehistoric peoples

b. Pythagoras and his followers

c. Paul and Linda McCartney

d. The Bible Christians of England

Answer. D. The term "vegetarian" wasn't even coined until the Bible Christian church established the British Vegetarian Society in the 1840s. Of course, the English didn't exactly invent the concept. By the 6th century B.C., the Greek philosopher Pythagoras was touting a vegetarian diet as necessary for both physical and spiritual health. And our earliest vegetarian ancestors ate a mostly vegetarian diet supplemented with a few leftovers from animals killed by predators. Needless to say, cuisine has improved considerably since then.

2.True or false:

Vegetarians live longer than meat eaters.

Answer. True. Several studies show that vegetarians do have longer lifespans than their meat-eating counterparts. One 20-year study, conducted by Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, Calif, found that vegetarians live, on average, a full 10 to 15 years longer than meat eaters. What's the explanation? Read on.

3. Eating a plant-based diet helps reduce your risk for:

a. Hypertension and heart disease

b. Cancers (especially of the lung and colon)

c. Type 2 diabetes

d. Kidney disease

e. All of the above

Answer: E. Vegetarians have lower rates of all these diseases.

Researchers suspect the reason is that plant-based diets tend to be lower in fat and higher in fiber and other key diseasefighting antioxidants (including vitamins C, E and betacarotene) than typical meat-eaters' diets. Some major findings:

Eating a diet high in saturated fat, which is abundant in animal products, increases the threat of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Excess dietary protein-much more common among nonvegetarians-is linked to kidney stones (as well as osteoporosis).

4. To get enough protein, vegetarians (especially vegans) must:

a. Carefully combine beans and grains at every meal

b. Eat a lot of energy bars

c. Eat soy products every day

d. Eat a wide variety of foods

Answer: D. Getting enough protein shouldn't be a problem for anybody who eats a wide variety of foods. If you still think that getting "complete" protein from a plant-based diet involves cumbersome combinations of beans and grains, forget it. Scientists now know that the body can store essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein. In other words, the protein from the bean chili you ate for lunch will complement the kind in the barley-corn salad you have at dinner. Voila: complete protein. What's more, plant-based sources of protein are healthier, since they don't contain all the saturated fat and cholesterol that animal products do (not to mention all the hormones, antibiotics and bacteria often found in meat). And in the last 10 years, the protein options for vegetarians have exploded: Grocery aisles are bursting with soy burgers, protein drinks and much more.

5. Which of the following provides the most calcium?

a. One cup of milk

b. A stir-fry of broccoli (1 cup) and tofu (Y2 cup)

c. One cup steamed spinach

d. A grilled cheese sandwich

Answer: B. The stir-fry contains a whopping 508 grams of calciumcompared to about 360 in the grilled cheese, 300 in the milk and 244 in the spinach. Broccoli, like several other green vegetables (kale, collards, Swiss chard) is a good source of calcium. So is tofu, when it's made with calcium sulfate (check the label). And recent studies show that the calcium from vegetable sources is better absorbed than that of dairy products. Sea vegetables also pack decent amounts of the mineral. They include alaria, wakame, nori, kombu and hijiki.

6.Seitan is:

a. Another name for the Fallen Angel

b. …

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