What do you say...?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

“Vegan?” “Where do you get your protein?” “How do you get enough calcium?” “Are you anemic? Your iron count must be really low.” “You can’t get all your vitamins and nutrients from lettuce.”

Yes, I’m sure you have all heard these and many more of the same questions over and over and over when people find out that the “V” word is incorporated into your lifestyle. Well, through various sources, I have tried to compile a pretty darn good list of foods that I think we should all know (as it is important to know where our vitamins and nutrients are coming from, it’s just annoying to be hassled about it!) and how important they are to our diets. I know that there are many more than the ones I will be listing, but now, when people ask, you can rattle off an entire freaking fact sheet to them! So there!


Most people believe that milk and other dairy products are the best sources for this mineral. Yet, not all of it can be used by your body. Oxalates in those foods bind calcium so it is not absorbed. Some dark green vegetables, such as kale, spinach and parsley, contain a fair amount of calcium. Almonds, filberts and legumes also contain fair amounts of calcium. Calcium fortified soy milk or rice milk are good to add to a vegan diet. Calcium fortified orange juice and pasta are also good sources. The recommended intake for calcium in men and women, 19-50 years old is 1000 mg.
Calcium Content of Selected Foods

Legumes (1 cup cooked)
Chickpeas 78 mg
Great northern beans 121 mg
Navy beans 128 mg
Pinto beans 82 mg
Black beans 103 mg
Vegetarian baked beans 128 mg

Soybeans, 1 cup cooked 175 mg
Tofu (processed with calcium
sulfate) ½ cup 120-350 mg
Tempeh, ½ cup 85 mg
Textured vegetable protein, ½ c 84 mg
Soymilk, 1 cup 250-300 mg
Soymilk, fortified, 1 cup 252 mg
Soynuts, ½ cup 120 mg

Nuts and Seeds (2 T.)
Almonds 50 mg
Almond butter 86 mg
Vegetables (½ cup cooked)
Bok choy 79 mg
Broccoli 89 mg
Collard greens 178 mg
Kale 90 mg
Mustard greens 75 mg

Dried figs, 5 – 258 mg
Calcium fortified orange juice, 1 cup – 300mg
Blackstrap molasses, 1 T 187 mg


Good non-meat sources of iron include:
• Legumes
• Dried fruits
• Dark green, leafy vegetables
• Whole or enriched grains and cereals
Your body is able to absorb more iron from these foods when they are eaten in the same meal with vitamin C rich foods. Some foods high in vitamin C are:
• Broccoli
• Strawberries
• Citrus fruits and juices
• Melons
• Baked potatoes
• Spinach
• Tomatoes
• Kiwi
The recommended intake of iron for men and women 19-70+ years is 8 mg/day.
Iron Content of Select Foods

Breads, cereals and grains
Whole wheat bread, 1 slice -.9mg
White bread, 1 slice .7mg
Bran flakes, 1 cup 11mg
Cream of wheat, ½ c cooked 5.5mg
Oatmeal, instant, 1 packet 6.3mg
Wheat germ, 2 T 1.2mg
Vegetables (½ cup cooked)
Beet greens 1.4mg
Sea vegetables 18-42 mg
Swiss chard -1.9 mg
Tomato juice, 1 cup 1.3mg
Turnip greens 1.5mg

Soyfoods (½ cup cooked)
Soybeans 4.4mg
Tempeh 1.8mg
Tofu 6.6 mg
Soymilk, 1 cup 1.8 mg

Nuts/seeds (2 T)
Cashews 1 mg
Pumpkin seeds 2.5 mg
Tahini 1.2 mg
Sunflower seeds 1.2 mg

Other foods

Blackstrap molasses, 1 T 3.3mg


Plant proteins are not complete, as they do not have enough of one or more amino acids. However, the kinds of foods you eat may combine to form a complete protein. When the plant proteins are eaten with another select plant protein, the foods will balance each other to form complete protein.

Most people will need 2 to 3 servings of either animal or plant proteins daily to meet their needs. Below are servings of protein:
1/3 cup hummus
½ cup legumes
¼ cup nuts and seeds
2 T. nut butter (peanut, cashew, almond and soynut butters
3 ounces seitan
3 ounce soy burger
4 ounces tofu

So, in review, I think it’s pretty obvious that it is SUPER easy to get everything that we need from a plant-based diet!
•Vary the foods you eat: fruits, vegetables, breads, cereals, legumes, nuts, seeds.
•Be certain that all bread, pasta and other grain products are 100% whole grain. Pasta and bread from local bakeries may not be fortified.
•Use whole grain products to increase intake of iron, and fiber. These include whole grains, whole wheat, bulgur, barley, brown rice, cornmeal, and oatmeal.

These guidelines were compiled by me using WebMD, www.vrg.org/index.htm, and the book Vegetarian Diets by the American Dietetic Association.

I hope this was helpful! Now happy (vegan) eating!


Drgnflygrl said...

Awesome list :) I have to admit, I have a hard time getting all the nutrients, I tend to eat the same foods over and over. It's easier than being creative.

Danielle said...

I don't either, although I do try to vary my foods each day. But, it's always good to know exactly where everything is coming from in your diet. Thanks for stopping by!

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