This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending a state-of-the-art sports nutrition conference sponsored by SCAN, the Sports and Cardiovascular Nutrition practice group of the American Dietetic Association. The meeting included an excellent array of speakers who presented information on vegetarian diets, nuts, and the newly released dietary guidelines. Here are a few of the key messages:
• The American Diet has changed dramatically from the 1950s to the present. We now eat more calories— increasing from 1,900 calories in 1950 to 2,660 calories in 2008. Most of those additional calories come from refined grains and fats (such as muffins, donuts, cakes and baked goods).
• less than 1% of Americans consume the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables, and only 60% of Americans consumes adequate calcium.
• The SAD (Standard American Diet) lacks the bioactive phytochemicals and antioxidants found in fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and legumes. These health protective compounds reduce our risk of heart disease.
* Eating a plant-based diet can correct those deficiencies. For example, nuts reduce inflammation, a contributor of heart disease. People who eat nuts more than 5 times a week have 50% less heart disease. Consuming 2 ounces (two big handfuls—or four average handfuls) of nuts a day can reduce blood cholesterol by 5%.
• The more nuts you eat, the better response you will get, as long as you stay within your calorie budget.
• To add years to your life: eat less meat (and more plant protein), exercise more, eat nuts, maintain a good weight, and drink five glasses of water a day.
Eat wisely and stay well,
For more information:
Food Guide for Soccer: Tips and Recipes from the Pros.