SINCE MANY Americans equate the word protein with meat and in its absence or insufficiency they feel health and vigor cannot be maintained, Seventh-day Adventist homemakers can share with their neighbors the advantages of a meatless diet. They can assure them of the complete adequacy of such a diet. After all, Seventh-day Adventists have had more than a hundred years of experience with the meatless diet!
Not only has research shown the complete adequacy of a lactovegetarian diet but also a number of distinct advantages. Among these is the lower intake of cholesterol and saturated fat. Both of these factors are associated with elevated cholesterol level, which in turn is linked to increased risk of coronary heart disease. For example, 60 per cent of the calories in meat come from fat. Any one getting his protein from beef would be eating a lot of calories in the form of saturated fat.
Most of the plant fats are unsaturated and they do not contain any cholesterol. In a study by Drs. Lemon and Walden of Seventh-day Adventists in California, they found that not only did the men have fewer heart attacks when compared to non-Seventh-day Adventist men but they occurred a decade later.
Another distinct advantage of the meatless diet is the saving at the grocery store. Here is a sample of the cost of protein from various food sources:
|1/2 cup soybeans, cooked||11.0 gms.||3-4c|
|1 T. peanut butter||4.0 gms.||3c|
|1 egg||6.0 gms.||5-6c|
|8 ounces milk||8.5 gms.||9-10c|
|1/2 cup cottage cheese||15.0 gms.||16c|
|1 piece Chicken Style Soyameat (canned).**||9.0 gms.||16c|
|1 vegetable steak***||7.5 gms.||12c|
|1 serving rib steak (3 1/2 oz. cooked)||24.0 gms.||75-80c|
* Approx. prices August 1974, Calif.
** Product of Worthington Foods, Inc., Worthington, Ohio.
*** Product of Loma Linda Foods Co., Riverside, Calif.
Because of the importance of proteins in life processes, there has been considerable discussion and much research undertaken to determine how much is needed. Early in the history of nutrition very high protein intakes were advocated. These recommendations were made not on scientific studies but rather on surveys of what working men were actually eating. However, when research was undertaken it became increasingly clear that much less was needed than originally recommended.
The Nutrition Board of the National Research Council in the latest (1973) revision of the "Recommended Dietary Allowances" has set the figures for protein at 56 grams (approximately two ounces) for men and 46 grams (a little more than an ounce and a half) for women. In fact, re search has shown that an ounce or so of a good protein mixture each day will keep the average man in good health. The recommendations of two ounces (56 grams) includes extra protein a safety margin. Acutally many Americans, particularly men, eat between three and four ounces of protein each day, which is three to four times the requirement and almost twice the recommended allowance which already has a margin of safely.
One way to measure how well the body can use protein is the biological value method. If an absorbed protein is completely utilized, it is assigned a value of 100, if there is no utilization that value would be zero. For adequate nutrition, the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board has recommended a biologic value of 60 or more for adults and 70 or more for children. The table lists a number of vegetable and animal proteins with values of 60 or above.
Should Americans worry about eating too much protein? Dr. Willard Visek of Cornell University thinks they should. In the United States, cancer of the colon ranks second only to lung cancer among deaths caused by cancer. Dr. Visek has reported data from a number of countries showing a high correlation between high animal protein intake and cancer of the colon. (It should be recognized that populations with high intakes of animal protein also have a high total protein intake.) According to these statistics, in those countries where people eat a large amount of animal protein there is a high incidence of bowel cancer. Wherever animal protein intake is low there is little of this type of cancer. Conclusions can not be drawn only on the basis of correlation analysis, but these findings certainly are indications of the need of further study in this area.
Meeting the protein allowances of the National Research Council is indeed no problem. Dietitians who are accustomed to calculating diets find it hard not to exceed these amounts when calorie needs are met. Here in two meals one gets more than the recommended allowance for men:
Because studies show that Seventh-day Adventists have good health and longevity, they are the subjects for a number of studies currently in progress. A team of scientists in the School of Health, Loma Linda University, has been granted more than $800,000 to study what in their life-style may be contributing to the fact that Seventh-day Adventists have significantly less cancer of most types than the average American. Seventh-day Adventists in California also are one of the groups involved in a diet-cancer study by Dr. Ernest Wynder, an internationally known authority on cancer. In a recent interview (reported in U.S. News & World Report) Dr. Jean Mayer of Harvard said, "We have the experience of Seventh-day Adventists. . . . They have been studied very carefully and their health is at least as good if not superior to that of the American people as a whole."
Today Seventh-day Adventists are becoming Exhibit A. Today we see the glorious possibility of being the fulfillment of the prophetic words: "If Seventh-day Adventists practiced what they profess to believe, if they were sincere health reformers, they would indeed be a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men." --Counsels on Health, p. 575.