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Atkins Going Green?

Atkins to Promote Plant-based Proteins as the New Key to Weight Loss, Heart Health

Atkins is now advocating plant-based proteins for weight loss.

Atkins is now advocating plant-based proteins for weight loss.

Remember the Atkins Diet?  The diet that said you could splurge on pretty much any and all protein sources – no matter how fatty it was or how congested with cholesterol it happened to be?

For many people, this form of dieting worked. People reigned in their troublesome tummies, and did it without having to sacrifice strips of bacon, slabs of steak or plates full of pork rinds.

One problem, though:  Their cholesterol levels spiked.

As many of you know, you don’t have to be morbidly obese to have high cholesterol levels – as unhealthy levels can ravage the “lose a few” crowd or the rail thin folk.  Because when you consume red meat and fatty protein sources on a regular basis, all that saturated fat gets stored, slowly but surely blocking your body’s blood flow from normal circulation.

And a smorgasbord of health hazards result after that, chief among them the nation’s leading killer:  heart disease.

That said, Atkins has seen the err of its ways and is on the verge of unveiling a new diet plan that keeps a premium on protein, but shifts the emphasis to plant-based proteins.

As the country is becoming more eco-friendly, so too is Atkins.  In fact, the research on plant-based proteins that’s published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine has dubbed this new take on weight loss as the ‘Eco-Atkins’ diet.

Researchers from St. Michael’s Hospital and the University of Toronto had 50 participants partake in a study that randomly assigned some of them a high protein diet derived mainly from plant-based foods, like soy, gluten, nuts, fruits and vegetable oils.  The other half consumed a high carbohydrate, low fat dairy diet, but the carbohydrates were all from healthy sources (whole grain).

With the participants following these rather regimented diet plans for four weeks, the researchers found that those on the Eco-Atkins Diet lost slightly more weight than the high carbohydrate dieters, but their blood cholesterol levels were significantly lower. What’s more, their blood pressure levels dropped (a topic that’s near and dear to my heart, for those of you who’ve read “The Blood Pressure Miracle” already know).

More research needs to be done before researchers sign off on this latest Atkins incarnation, as the study was small in scope and short in length.  I have no doubt that the benefits will translate outward, though, as consuming more plant-based protein foods are always a better option, in that they’re void of harmful chemicals that meat products are often pumped with for preservation purposes (which is why I’m such a fan of grass-fed bison, but that’s a topic for another day).

As I’ve written in the past, I’m not a vegan and I don’t play one on television.  However, I’m definitely someone who advises that your meals be taken up primarily by high quality fruits and vegetables primarily, ones that have the appropriate balance of fats and proteins.

Some of the best sources for protein among vegetables include alfalfa sprouts (one cup= about 1.5 g of protein), artichokes (one medium=about 4 g of protein), and asparagus (eight spears=about 3.1 g of protein).

The aforementioned are virtually void of any plant-based fats, but avocados make up the difference (4.5 g of fat in a one-ounce serving).  And while we should generally keep our fat intake relatively low, we all need fat to ensure that the vitamins we eat get properly absorbed.

That said, an avocado has about .60 grams of protein in a one-ounce serving (which is the equivalent of two tablespoons, one-fifth of a medium-sized avocado, or two to three thinly cut slices).

None of these are eye-popping protein numbers, I grant you, but they’re the best nature has to offer.

(Interesting fact:  California avocados pack more protein per ounce than Florida avocados:  .60 grams vs. .45 grams.  Who knew?)

Sources:
nutraingredients.com
fatfreekitchen.com
avocado.org

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