The Four New Food Groups

Everyone, from Nobel Prize winning doctors to Surgeons General, is recommending a
vegetarian diet these days. One report after the other shows that vegetarians live longer and
have much lower rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and many other diseases. But just
how do they do it? Do they walk through the market with charts and calculators following
some complicated formula? What’s their secret?
Well, it’s no secret and it’s as easy as can be. Vegetarians simply include food from each
of the Four New Groups every day in their diet. The Four New Food Groups are Legumes,
Whole Grains, Fruits and Vegetables. By choosing a variety of food from these four food
groups, vegetarians follow a diet that has made them the healthiest people in town. And the
best part of it all is that vegetarian food is so delicious!
Just what’s included in each of the Four New Food Groups?

Legumes include peas, lentils and all kinds of beans—soybeans, chickpeas, kidney beans,
black beans, white beans, even peanuts. All are packed with protein, complex carbohydrates
including lots of fi ber, calcium, iron and even have some essential fatty acids. They have no
cholesterol and make a great replacement for meat in your diet. Lentils, black beans and
garbanzo beans are especially digestible. Try lentils in a Shepherd’s Pie , black
beans in a soup or salad , and garbanzo beans in Hummus or
an Indian curry for example.
Don’t forget the many soy products which are available. Recent medical studies have
confirmed the benefits of soy. Tofu and tempeh offer particularly versatile ways to include
soy in your diet. See the index for many different ways to prepare these products in delicious
recipes. Many of today’s meat-substitute products are based on soy too, including veggie
burgers, meatless hot dogs, soy jerky, fake bacon, pepperoni and bologna. Dairy substitutes
such as soy milk, soy “cheese,” soy “yogurt” and soy “ice cream” have also become very
popular. These should all be available at your local natural food store.

Although technically not legumes, nuts and seeds also are high in protein and provide
an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and fi ber. Include a handful
of walnuts, cashews, almonds, brazil nuts or hazelnuts in your diet several times a week,
or try nut butters for spreads, dips and sauces. Seeds like pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and
sunfl ower seeds add nutrients and crunch to your diet. Tahini, sesame seed butter, is one of
the key ingredients in hummus which is a great dip for vegetables.

Whole Grains
Whole Grains include wheat, oats, barley, buckwheat, brown rice, cereals, pasta
and whole grain breads of every kind. Also included are alternate grains, such as quinoa
and amaranth, which are fi nding their way into many recipes and quickly increasing in
popularity. Whole grains are powerhouses of energy and nutrition with generous amounts of
protein, vitamins such as the B vitamins and vitamin E, minerals such as iron and zinc, and
fi ber. There’s an endless variety of ways to include whole grains in your diet. Try whole wheat
toast or oatmeal for breakfast, a whole grain burrito or pasta for lunch and rice or quinoa
with your supper. Everyone needs some treats once in a while, so use whole grain fl our and
natural sweeteners, with cocoa or dark chocolate chips if you like, to make tasty cakes and
cookies for a treat. See the Desserts section for many delicious healthy recipes.

The range of vegetables available is amazing, and every one of them is packed with
vitamins, minerals and fi ber. Choose from among the cruciferous vegetables: broccoli,
caulifl ower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale and collard greens. These vegetables are especially
well regarded both for their nutritional content and for their protective value against several
diseases. Green leafy vegetables such as chard, spinach, arugula and the many varieties of
lettuce provide excellent nutrition in salads. Tomatoes and peppers (technically fruits) of all
varieties are great for salads and sauces and are high in vitamins and antioxidants. Eggplants
and potatoes make great foundations for any meal. Versatile vegetables can be served as a
salad, a side dish or a main dish and can be steamed, baked or stir fried.

There’s an abundance of fruits to choose from. Examples of berries include blackberries,
blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and cranberries. Citrus fruits include oranges,
tangerines, lemons and grapefruit. Melons include cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon.
Tree and vine fruits include apples, peaches, bananas, fi gs and grapes. Tropical fruit include
mangoes, papayas and kiwis. All fruits are loaded with vitamins, especially vitamin C. There’s
a lot of evidence that fruits help reduce the risk of certain diseases, so choose a variety of fresh
fruits to eat every day. They make ideal snacks and desserts and are scrumptious additions to
Putting it all together
Combine choices from these four food groups, add a few herbs, spices and other natural
fl avorings (oils, vinegars or sweeteners as needed) and you have everything you need for
delicious and healthy meals. Look through the index. This book has many recipes which will
help you incorporate these ingredients.

In addition to food, doctors recommend drinking 6 to 8 cups of water every day, as
an essential component to your diet. Taking a daily multivitamin helps make sure you are
getting all you need and supplies vitamin B12, which is needed for diets which include no
animal products.

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