Sunday, June 14, 2009

“Eco-Atkins” diet is good for health and good for the environment

June 13, 8:09 PM ·
A diet low in calories and carbohydrates, but high in plant proteins, helped overweight individuals lose weight and improve cholesterol levels. Complete information is available in the June 8 edition of the Archives of Internal Medicine.
The authors discuss the “dilemma relating to the proportion and source of fat, protein, and carbohydrate that constitutes the optimal weight loss and cholesterol-lowering diet”. Atkins style diets emphasize reduced carbohydrates and increased animal protein. These diets are indeed effective for weight loss. However, diets high in animal protein tend to increase low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) or “bad cholesterol”.
The “Eco-Atkins” diet is low in carbohydrates, and it emphasizes plant-based proteins. This diet aided in weight lose, and it also aided in reducing LDL cholesterol. This diet is more suitable for individuals with concerns about heart disease.
Plant proteins are plentiful in soy, beans, peas, nuts, and seeds. These foods can form the basis of a healthful diet.
Plant proteins also have a smaller environmental footprint than animal proteins. Beef is the most energy intensive source of protein. Beef production requires huge inputs of energy and water. In most cases, beef production also includes considerable amounts of hormones and antibiotics. Feedlots produce mountains of waste that pollute rivers and ground water.
Pork and chicken are only somewhat less damaging to the environment. Production of dairy products and eggs have the same issues that are shared by all factory farms: accumulations of waste, routine use of antibiotics, and energy intensive feeding practices.
The Eco-Atkins diet offers a healthful and environmentally friendly alternative to the standard diet. Many ethnic cuisines offer tasty and interesting meals centered around plant proteins. Dishes from south of the border feature beans as a protein source. Indian and Ethiopian cuisines incorporate lentils and peas. Asian foods often include tofu. Exploring plant-based foods is a great way to enjoy greater health and have more interesting meals.