Quick fact: Lettuce is over 50% protein by calorie, and 18% healthy essential fat, as well as more nutrients than can be listed here!
Some of the most common meals today are: leafy green salads, with grilled chicken and dressing; chicken fingers; and/or baked, grilled or fried chicken-based dinners, with a potato, and a token side vegetable. Do these meals sound familiar to you? Have you ever wondered why we default to eating multiple pieces of chicken every day? Did you know that according to Farm Sanctuary founder Dan Bauer, our country consumes more than 1 million chickens per hour? Per hour! Wow, that’s a lot of chickens!
A Quick Nutrition Education
The reason we eat so much chicken is because we have been indoctrinated into the theory that we must all eat animal protein in order to survive. Most of us were born into the government’s daily Standard American Diet (SAD) recommendations, and our physicians’ insistence that we eat upwards of .8-1.1 to 1.4 grams of protein, per kilogram, of our body weight (2.2 lbs.), each day.
That’s a lot of protein, and many of us actually far exceed these established recommendations, by eating as much of 1-2 grams of protein, per pound of body weight, per day– particularly athletes and bodybuilders. And, given the fact that most people are eating animal products 2-3 times per day, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, whether they are athletes or not, we are certainly getting more than our fill of this “revered” yet nutrient-poor protein.
Here is a major reality check – all protein comes from greens. In fact, protein (amino acids) is infused into every leafy green, green vegetable and all produce in existence, via the interactions between sun, water, soils and oxygen, the basis of all life on the planet, which is called photosynthesis. Protein, the combination of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen, is a net effect of photosynthesis. When you get it from plants it is nutrient-rich, meaning it comes packaged with all the vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, fiber and other food factors that maintain it’s health-promoting effects. there is no way for you to not get enough protein, as long as you aren’t deficient in calories, and you aren’t only eating only junk food.
How much protein do you really need?
Let’s think about this – at birth, and during the most rapid growth period of a baby’s life, the mother’s milk consumed is only made up of 5% protein. According to Dr. Joel Fuhrman and other top plant-based nutrition experts, in a regular, normal diet it is estimated that protein should comprise about 10% of your total calorie intake, which is approximately 30 grams of protein a day. Even with a 100% vegan diet of 2,000 calories, you would get between 50-70 grams of protein, which is approximately 25 or more grams, per 1,000 calories.
Now the question is, “where” are you getting your protein from?
When you learn nutrient-rich healthy eating, you learn that it’s not simply how much you eat, but what you eat that matters. You should strive to eat up to 90% or more nutrient-rich food. What you eat will ultimately determine how much you eat, so it needs to be nutrient-rich if you are going to stay healthy. When you eat nutrient-rich, the protein is just one of the many nutrients present in whole food– you will get all the protein you need and eat much less food overall.
When the protein you eat is nutrient-poor, meaning it is devoid of vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals, then you will over eat and get too much protein and unhealthy fats. As it is, most of us are already consuming too many calorie-containing macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fats). And, when the protein and fat you are eating comes from animals this complicates matters because it is now unhealthy to start. What we are missing in the foods we eat are the micronutrients – the vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals that prevent us from overeating, and this only happens with a nutrient-rich healthy eating style, free of all or significant amounts of refined and added salt oil and sugar.
However, while eating the nutrient-rich healthy way means you should Eat Your Way up to 90% or More Plant-Based Nutrient-Rich, it does not mean that you must be Vegan or Vegetarian. In fact, you can actually consume animal products, in small quantities, if you want to do so. After all, a true nutrient-rich healthy eating style allows consumption of animal products, it just requires that you keep consumption of animal products to less than 10% or your daily intake
Protein by its very nature is plant based.
If all protein comes from plants, and herbivorous animals eat plants, and carnivorous animals ultimately eat herbivorous animals, then all animal life is getting its protein from plants. Humans are eating a second-hand source of plant-based protein, when they eat animals, which are loaded with animal substances that we do not need, like animal fat and the animals’ cholesterol; but ultimately, all the protein is coming from plants. Animals cannot produce all of the amino acids needed from their own energy. They need photosynthesis. Therefore, ultimately, all animals must get their protein from plants.
Animal protein is nutrient poor. It revs up our enzyme systems and promotes rapid tumor growth. It is loaded with saturated fat and cholesterol; and the animal protein itself prompts your body to produce more endogenous (internal) cholesterol, which is added to the plague-forming cholesterol you are getting from the meat itself.
While there is much more for you to learn about protein, you now have a basic nutritional education regarding why animal protein is nutrient poor (it doesn’t contain fiber or phytochemicals, which are the thousands of essential nutrients that literally repair our cells and DNA, clean out our bodies of free radicals, and act as a “key” to turning on our immune system). And, while animal protein may be high in biologically available protein, you now know that it offers little to no essential nutrients in every other way.
Now let’s focus of the subject of this article – Lettuce is the New Chicken.
This is actually a spin-off of an idea Fuhrman recently coined, “Kale is the new beef.” When I heard this for the first time – I thought it was brilliant – and I still do. But, it got me thinking about lettuce and how much more commonly consumed it is than kale, and how much more often chicken is eaten than beef. So I came up with – Lettuce is the New Chicken!
Now, imagine eating a head of romaine lettuce, which, according to Fuhrman, is approximately 50% protein, and 18% healthy fat, by calorie. We say “by calorie,” because by weight, which is how most food producers determine nutritional values, you would get a skewed view of the nutritional content of the typical head of lettuce, which has more protein, per calorie, than chicken! The same is true for green vegetables, like broccoli. In fact, according to Fuhrman’s book, Eat to Live, 100 calories of broccoli, which is about 12 oz. of food, comprises more protein than 100 calories of ground sirloin, which is just 1 oz. of food.
If you want to be able to eat a lot of food, but not over consume calories, it is important to dine on a full array of fiber, thousands of phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals, and water, protein, carbohydrate and good fat (not animal fat and cholesterol) which you don’t need to consume.
Remember — A head of Lettuce is the New Chicken breast. You don’t need to add chicken to get protein, you are already getting it by eating lettuce. Not only is Romaine lettuce among the very top, most nutrient-rich foods available, it is the 13th most nutrient-dense food in the world, according to the aggregate nutrient density index (ANDI).
There is so much more to be learned about protein, even though you now have some of the key point right here. And yes, it may take you some time to get your head around transitioning away from eating chicken, and moving toward the daily consumption of a head of romaine lettuce or other leafy greens as part of, if not the whole of your meal.
Of course, you will likely add a whole-food nut and fruit-based dressing, for improved nutrient absorption, calories, and amazing taste, but next time you think about eating a chicken breast – think, “I should eat a head of lettuce, instead!” By the way, nutrient-rich whole food dressings are the key to eating more greens than ever before. If you want all of the benefits of a healthy eating style – health, ideal weight, performance, youthful aging, and longevity – then eating two nice-sized, borderline huge salads a day (something very natural to all primates), is a great place to start!
There is a reason why the head of lettuce is part of the Switch to Rich logo – it will soon become an icon in your nutrient-rich healthy eating style. When you make the Switch to Rich, you will start seeing the head of lettuce and other leafy greens as being the “chicken,” and a main dish. Not only is eating lettuce a super-convenient and cost-effective method of eating and food preparation, it is a more nutrient-rich, “protein-rich” and calorie-appropriate food than any other food. And, as an added benefit, when switching from eating chicken to eating lettuce as a main source of protein, your food bills will go way down. Lettuce is not only good for your health– it is good for your wallet!
For more information, please check out http://www.NutrientRich.com
Dr Fuhrman’s Nutrient Top 30 Super Foods
1. Collard, mustard, and turnip greens; 2. Kale; 3. Watercress; 4. Bok choy; 5. Spinach; 6. Brussels sprouts; 7. Swiss chard; 8. Arugula; 9. Radish; 10. Cabbage; 11. Bean sprouts; 12. Red peppers; 13. Romaine lettuce; 14. Broccoli; 15. Carrot juice; 16. Tomatoes and tomato products; 17. Cauliflower; 18. Strawberries; 19. Pomegranate juice; 20. Blackberries; 21. Plums; 22. Raspberries; 23. Blueberries; 24. Papaya; 25. Brazil nuts; 26. Oranges; 27. Tofu; 28. Beans (all varieties);29. Seeds– flaxseed, sunflower, sesame; and 30. Walnuts.