Vegan Diets and Heart Health

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) publishes—in addition to their peer-reviewed journal—a glossy bi-monthly magazine with short articles on food and nutrition topics. It’s a nice magazine (although needless to say, the content doesn’t always make me very happy.)

The latest issue is devoted to vegan diets. I was invited to write an 800-word article on vegan diets and heart health for the magazine’s website, which you can read here. Unfortunately, they omitted the references I included with the article (it’s for dietitians, after all) so I’ll list them at the end of this post for those who are interested.

You can also read an article on the website that actually links to Vegan Outreach. I love this since you don’t find too many ... Read More >

Nuts and Heart-Healthy Diets

I made a reference in my last post to the impressive amount of data on the health effects of nuts, especially regarding heart health. A new study on this topic was just published today in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine. The researchers—who are from Loma Linda University—pooled data from 25 previous studies, all randomized clinical trials. The effects on cholesterol levels from this one simple dietary change—eating more nuts—were impressive. The findings suggest that nuts can be a very valuable addition to lifestyle changes aimed at reducing heart disease.

You can read more about the study in my vegan examiner column.

... Read More >

More on Low-Fat Diets and an Update on Heart-Healthy Fats

My recent post on low-fat vegan diets inspired some good and thoughtful comments, which I really appreciate. Coincidently, just a few days after I posted, an important study was published that supported some of what I was saying. There are lots of studies to support the content of that post (I don’t make this stuff up; I swear) and the idea that eating some fat is good for you is hardly a new idea. But this was a particularly interesting bit of research coming just on the heels of the discussion here.

And so I wanted to talk about that study and also respond to some of the issues that were raised by my last post. Especially in regard to one comment which pointed out ... Read More >

Fat in Vegan Diets: How Low Should You Go?

I’ve been living among stacks of nutrition research papers over the past six months while working on an update to The Dietitian’s Guide to Vegetarian Diets, a textbook for health professionals and dietetics students. The last edition was published in 2004 so my co-authors and I have looked at all of the studies on vegetarian and vegan diets that have been published since then, along with hundreds of other nutrition papers that are pertinent to vegetarianism.

I’ve learned a lot in the process. It’s reinforced my opinions about some aspects of nutrition and forced me to change my mind about others. I finished my last chapter, which focused on fat and carbohydrates and how they affect heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, yesterday.

Twenty years ... Read More >

Easy Vegan Dinner: Tequila Tempeh & Coconut Lime Rice

I blog recipes only occasionally since there are so many great vegan cooks on the internet—and I’m merely a good-enough cook. But sometimes I stumble over a recipe that is so fantastic or I find myself pulling together such an exceptional menu that I feel compelled to share. And that’s the case with last night’s dinner. Here is the menu:

~Tempeh Marinated in Tequila

~Rice with Corn, Coconut Milk and Lime

~Spinach (fresh from the garden)

~Salad (even fresher from the garden)

I think this menu sounds a little fancy, and it would, in fact, be perfect for company. But believe me, it was super easy. Once you have the tempeh marinating and, if you cook the brown rice ahead of time, the ... Read More >

The Atkins Diet Goes Vegan

Dr Atkins must be turning over in his grave. Researchers from Canada and the United States have taken his diet and—yikes!—veganized it. Their findings were published in the June 8, 2009 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Everyone knows about the infamous Atkins Diet, of course. It promised weight loss to anyone who severely restricted carbohydrate intake and filled her plate with fatty meats. For whatever reasons—and the possible explanations are hotly debated among nutritionists—the diet works for weight loss.

But there are some obvious problems with the Atkins approach. First of all, while weight loss almost always results in lower LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol), that doesn’t happen on the Atkins plan. In fact, not surprisingly, cholesterol often goes up. High meat ... Read More >

Saturated Fats, Heart Disease, and Other Things We Still Don’t Understand

What is this love affair that everyone seems to have with bacon these days? It seems to appear in every other recipe published on the internet. The most recent ones I saw were for bacon candy and bacon brownies.

Now the latest internet claim is that lard—which is rendered fat from pigs—is supposedly good for us. Ugh. The basis for this idea is that much of the fat in lard is either monounsaturated (like the fat in olive oil) or is the type of saturated fat that doesn’t affect cholesterol levels.

I don’t know–maybe so. But, dietary fat is a bit more complicated than that. Some types of saturated fat (including the palmitic acid in lard) have been shown to have other effects in ... Read More >

The Mediterranean Vegan

Low-fat diets are sometimes touted as the healthiest way to eat, but that’s an old-fashioned idea. It’s also bad activism on behalf of vegan diets. Even people who are strongly motivated often find it difficult to eliminate animal products from their diet. So why make it harder with additional restrictions on fat?

A Mediterranean-style vegan diet is one that is likely to appeal to many more people than a low fat regimen. It offers a chance to eat healthfully, humanely, and deliciously. Mediterranean diets are based on grains like pasta, rice and bread, fresh vegetables and fruits, and legumes—and also nuts and seeds, olives and olive oil. A little bit of good-for-you fat like olive oil intensifies flavors in foods and helps create appealing ... Read More >