Meat is a major source of protein, especially in the traditional American diet, but legumes, dairy products, and nuts are excellent sources of this vital nutrient as well.


Legumes—a group that includes beans, peas, and lentils—are one of my favorite functional foods and probably my top pick for an all-around health food. They’re a good protein source and almost always low glycemic, making them a wonderful alternative for vegetarians or for anyone looking to meet their protein needs while lowering their intake of meats and saturated fats.
Legumes are also full of riboflavin, niacin, folate, calcium, potassium, iron, and phosphorus. They’re high in soluble fiber, which naturally lowers cholesterol. They’re less expensive than meat and dairy products, and can be made into a wide variety of creative, flavorful dishes. In fact, a cup of legumes gives you 110 to 150 calories of the best fuel you can buy. If you aren’t sure where to start with legumes, try soy. Soybeans have twice as much protein as other legumes and provide nearly as many essential amino acids as animal protein—without all the saturated fat.

Dairy Products and Cheese

Dairy products are the one protein source that can be quite high glycemic. Despite what the dairy industry would have you believe, dairy products can contribute to poor health—that is, if not selected properly. Whole milk dairy products are not only high glycemic but also high in saturated animal fat, a double unhealthy wallop that pumps insulin while creating ready stores of fat.
It’s true that dairy products are an excellent source of calcium, but so are many of the fruits, vegetables, and whole grains you’ll be eating. And calcium supplements offer the same advantage without the fat and carbohydrates. In fact, dairy products should be used sparingly and confined to low-fat, low-sugar servings during Phase I until you reach your optimal weight.

DrA-nutsandseeds-page-0Seeds and Nuts

These health-giving, low-glycemic, protein-rich foods are also just chock full of healthy fats. But nuts and seeds are also extremely energy dense, meaning that they pack a lot of calories into a small amount. Those calories can add up in a hurry—in fact, a serving size is no more than a handful.
Nuts and seeds are about 15 to 30 percent proteins, with the remainder primarily made up of mono- and polyunsaturated fats—the healthy fats. They’re also rich in thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin E, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and iron. As an added bonus, they’re full of an amino acid that contributes to your body’s ability to relax blood vessels, decrease blood pressure, and inhibit clot formation.
The steady, powerful fuel they provide makes nuts and seeds great snacks for fueling breaks, with enough protein to give you a pleasant, long-lasting feeling of fullness.
Tomorrow, we will learn about healthy starches, but I’m sure that these last few emails have opened your eyes to the many healthy options that are available to you when it comes to making meals. You should be pleasantly surprised by just how many different meals you can create out of healthy options.
I hope that you’re sticking to your new Weekly Habit of Health and keeping up with all of your old ones.
In health,

Day 39: Legumes, Dairy, and Nuts

09.20.12 |