What should we eat to be healthy? This is the ultimate question that EVERYONE is trying to answer and nobody really has a good handle on it.
Our diets are getting worse and worse. We are eating more processed foods, more convenience foods, more sugar and fat and salt. Our risks of diabetes, heart disease and cancer are climbing. Our kids are the first generation that has a shorter life expectancy than their parents.
The World Health Organization is intensely interested in these worrisome trends. They are trying to analyze the confusing array of nutritional research coming out to make recommendations to help people all over the world live longer, healthier lives.
Recently the WHO came out with a report recommending less saturated and trans fat intake in the diet. The goal is to reduce saturated fat intake to less than 10% of daily total calorie intake, and trans fats to less than 1% of calories.
Saturated fat and trans fats are both largely found in animal foods. Animal flesh from all species, eggs and dairy are rich sources of both saturated and trans fats. While many people know to avoid partially hydrogenated vegetable oils which are added to processed foods to make them taste better, surveys suggest that trans fat intake from animal foods is greater than that from industrial sources.
If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you know I recommend that the whole-foods plant-based diet is the healthiest diet for humans. This type of diet has the best research showing reduced heart risk and reduced cancer risk. It has been shown to decrease diabetes risk (a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and cancer). In fact, switching as little as 5% calorie intake from animal protein to plant protein reduced diabetes risk by 20-25%. This translates to 25 grams of protein from plant sources rather than animal for someone who eats 2000 calories per day.
I get that not too many of my readers are going to switch tomorrow from a Standard American Diet to a whole-foods plant-based diet and never look back. I’m about progress, not perfection. Hey, my husband calls me “vegan-ish!” I avoid animal foods as much as I possibly can but every once in a while I have ice cream or macarons for a treat.
So gradually substituting plant-based meals for ones with meat and dairy will reduce your heart and cancer risk. Reducing animal foods to have less saturated and trans fat intake in the diet is a good step to take for improving your health. You’ll feel better, and your body will thank you!
QUESTION: Do you try to reduce animal foods in your diet?