I’ve followed a plant-based diet for most of my adult life and I still find it necessary
to check and recheck to make sure that I am incorporating the right foods in the
right amounts to cover all of my nutritional needs on a regular basis.
This can be quite a challenge if you don’t really know the RDA of vitamins, minerals,
and other essential nutrients your body needs for optimum health and performance.
It’s quite easy to simply purchase and prepare the foods I love to eat over and over
again and feel satisfied that I am covering my bases.
But in truth, unless I take the time to do the homework and plan nutritionally-balanced
menus it is easy for me to exclude sufficient quantities of important essential nutrients
from my daily plant-based diet.
Over time, those nutritional deficiencies can add up and lead to health problems.
That’s why “nutrient cheat sheets” like the ones below are so helpful.
Using references like these help me plan my shopping lists and meal plans much more
Ideally, one could make a menu planning spreadsheet listing key nutrients and their sources,
then check off foods in each category to include in daily meals.
I just might do that because a quick glance at the information below makes me realize that
I rarely eat brazil nuts or sesame seeds, for example.
And I don’t remember to include seaweeds and fermented vegetables in my diet every week.
I love avocados but there are weeks when I don’t eat a single one.
I forgot to mention figs–I never buy them!
Variety is the Key
A few simple dietary guidelines can help ensure optimum nutrition when meal planning:
• Eat a wide variety of foods from each food group.
Variety helps ensure you consume sufficient quantities of a broad range of nutrients,
phytochemicals, and fiber. It also makes meals much more interesting.
• Fill at least half of your plate with vegetables and fruits.
• Limit your intake of concentrated fats, oils, and added sugars.
These foods are often rich in calories and poor sources of important nutrients.
It’s wiser to choose whole foods such as seeds, nuts, avocados, and olives as your sources
of fat, and fruits as your source of sugar, rather than extracted oils and sugars.
Plant-Based Calcium Sources That May Surprise You
Getting enough calcium is not that difficult on a plant-based diet.
In addition to the sources noted in these graphics there are many other good plant-based
sources of calcium.
For example, among green leafy vegetables, we have many choices, including:
Calcium-rich soy products include:
Among grains and cereals, calcium can be found in
Other significant calcium sources include:
Here are examples of the amount of calcium provided by key plant-based foods:
- 1 cup cooked collard greens — 358 milligrams
- 1 1/2 cups calcium-fortified oatmeal — 326 milligrams
- 1 cup hijiki — 648 milligrams
- 1 cup tofu — 516 milligrams
- 10 medium figs — 270 milligrams
- 1 cup cooked spinach — 244 milligrams
- 1 cup cooked white beans — 160 milligrams
- 1 cup calcium-fortified orange juice — 270 milligrams
Key Nutrients Not to Miss
Read this reference and see how your diet stacks up!