If you have been following the recipes I share on this blog you have likely seen the note I add at the bottom of each post where I explain why I do not include nutrition facts with my recipes. I subscribe to the theories presented by the books and authors shared on the Resources page and believe we should focus on eating a variety of whole foods instead of counting calories or keeping track of individual nutrients.
However, because many diet discussions concentrate on recommended amounts of protein, carbohydrates and/or fat, etc. I thought it would be interesting to provide the nutrition facts for a typical day of plant-based meals. I based the meals on recipes featured on this blog and used Caloriecount.com to determine the nutrition facts. Please note that these are ballpark figures as accurate analysis can be difficult:
Menu for the Day
- Raw Oatmeal Mix
- (raw oats, pumpkin pie spice, ground flax seed, frozen wild blueberries, dates & rice milk)
- 677 calories
- Quick Rice and Beans
- 501 calories
- Slow Cooker Lentil Soup with Baked Sweet Potato
- 197 calories
- Vegan Breakfast Smoothie Formula
- (rice milk, banana, kale, frozen strawberries, hemp seed, ground ginger)
- 363 calories
Key Nutrition Facts For The Day
- Total Calories = 1746
- Calories from Fat = 28%
- Calories from Protein = 10%
- Calories from Carbohydrates = 62%
- 60 grams of fiber
- 2054 mg of sodium
- 1180 mg calcium
- 0 mg cholesterol
The National Academy of Science (NAS) recommends the following Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Ranges (AMDR):
- Calories from Fat: 20-35%
- Calories from Protein: 10-35%
- Calories from Carbohydrates: 45-65%
Many plant-based advocates recommend slightly different ranges. Dr. Colin Campbell, suggests folks strive for:
- Calories from Fat: 10%
- Calories from Protein: 10%
- Calories from Carbohydrates: 80%
Whereas Dr. Joel Fuhrman recommends slightly more than 10% fat (in the form of nuts and seeds). However, nearly all of the folks I’ve referenced on the Resources page agree the main focus should be on eating a variety of whole plant-based foods. I side with Dr. Fuhrman. I feel better when I include slightly more healthy fats from whole foods in my diet.
Fiber is another important and often overlooked nutrient. I recently learned that less than 3% of Americans eat enough fiber. I know this used to be a problem for me – but not anymore! As indicated by the key nutrition facts for our sample day, a plant-based diet can provide nearly twice the minimum daily requirement of 31.5 grams. The benefits of a high fiber diet warrant it’s own conversation. For now, let’s just say it’s good to be regular.
There is ongoing discussion regarding the ideal amount of sodium in our diet. Not long ago we were told to limit our intake to no more than 2300 mg a day and folks with high blood pressure, kidney disease or diabetes were told to limit their intake to 1500 mg a day or less. In 2010, the American Heart Association advised everyone to limit his or her intake to 1500 mg a day or less. However, recent studies have indicated that too little sodium in the diet can also be a concern. Since I do not have any of the aforementioned health concerns, I am comfortable remaining within the 2300 mg range of sodium intake.
The dairy industry has done a great job of convincing American’s they need to eat milk, yogurt and cheese to be sure they are getting enough calcium. However the nutrition facts for our sample day of plant-based meals show I have met the calcium requirement of 1000 mg for a woman of 19-50 years of age.
High levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol are associated with an increased risk of heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends limiting dietary cholesterol to no more than 300 mg. If you already have heart disease, they suggest limiting your daily intake to less than 200 mg. The great thing about a plant-based diet is that it does not include ANY dietary cholesterol!
Focus on Whole Foods
Our sample day of meals demonstrates how easy it is to meet the recommended daily amounts for protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, sodium, calcium and cholesterol on a plant-based diet. If we delved deeper we would discover how the nutrient density of a plant-based diet far surpasses the Standard American Diet (SAD). But remember, the key is to focus on eating a variety of whole foods rather than getting caught up in the details of individual nutrients.