The Vegetarian's Diet
About 5 percent of people in the UK are vegetarian or vegan. A vegetarian diet is closest to the national dietary recommendations and is safe for both adults and children. Vegetarian and vegan diets cut the risk of cancer and heart disease by at least a quarter, so it's easy to see why more and more people are opting for this type of healthy diet. But being vegetarian these days doesn't mean you can only eat fruits and vegetables. There is a wide range of meat substitutes on the market that are not only healthy but taste delicious. Here's a run down.
TofuTofu, also known as soybean curd, is a soft, cheese-like food made by curdling fresh hot soymilk with a coagulant- usually nigari; a compound found in natural ocean water, or calcium sulfate, a naturally occurring mineral. The curd is then strained and pressed into blocks. Tofu is a spongy substance and so will soak up the flavour of anything you add it to. This makes it great for soups and stews. Tofu is a great source or protein and is also rich in tryptophan, manganese, iron, selenium, calcium and omega- fatty acids. It is also low in fat.
TVP ™Texturised vegetable protein is made from soybeans. It is produced from soy flour after the soybean oil has been extracted, then cooked under pressure, extruded, and dried. TVP ™ has a long shelf life if stored properly and is an excellent source of protein and fibre. It has zero cholesterol. However, some variations do have partially hydrolysed oil in them for flavour and texture changes. Hydrolysing the fat extends the shelf life as compared to using vegetable oil. Even though the fat content is increased in some of the flavoured varieties, with such a high fibre content, the balance is still very much on the healthy side especially compared to meat. TVP ™ is also a good source of the essential amino acids, and contributes calcium and magnesium to your diet. It can be fortified with vitamins, including Vitamin B12. It is very high in potassium, is a good source of the essential amino acids, and also contains calcium and magnesium.
Quorn ™Quorn ™ is the brand name for a range of vegetarian products that are made from mycoprotein. Mycoprotein is a member of the mushroom family, just like mushrooms. Mycoprotein is a very healthy food source for a number of reasons:
- It is a naturally high source of protein.
- It is naturally low in fat.
- It contains few calories.
- It contains essential dietary fibre, and so aids the digestive processes.
- Mycoprotein doesn't contain any cholesterol whatsoever, so eating Quorn™ products as part of a balanced, low fat diet can help to maintain normal cholesterol levels, which can help keep your heart healthy.
- Mycoprotein is completely meat free.