If you’ve read about our 4Leaf Program, you already know of my conviction that the primary emphasis must be on maximizing the healthiest of foods versus concentrating on what you’re avoiding. It is my observation that most vegetarians do the latter and many of them never achieve the results they are seeking.
Tofu is a good example. Since it is not meat or dairy, most vegetarians think that it must be a healthy product that they “can” eat. So when they first start out with their meatless diet (for any number of reasons), many of them turn to tofu, which is used extensively in many dishes — as a substitute for all kinds of meat, cheeses and eggs.
Last week, I noticed an online recipe for a “tofu scramble” from a noted health MD and felt that I should use that recipe as an example to help educate my readers. While I am an admirer of this particular MD, I think this is a good example of how the medical experts sometime lose sight of the big picture.
Like most vegetarians, sometimes they focus too much on what they’re avoiding and not so much on what they are actually eating. For this recipe to be highlighted as a “healthy meal,” he may unintentionally be leading some people down the wrong path. While the meal was 100% plant-based with a long list of fresh vegetables like spinach, tomato, scallions, garlic, and bell pepper; the primary source of calories was by far the fat in the tofu.
I knew immediately that this meal would never come close to being in the 4-Leaf range — with over 80% of calories from whole plants — but I wanted to make sure. So I went to nutritiondata.com and analyzed this meal. Here is what I found:
- Only 10.8% of the 205 calories per serving were from whole plants – in nature’s package. Scoring at the “No-Leaf” level on our 4-Leaf Program.
- Even worse, the meal derived 45.9% of its calories from fat (98% of which was from the tofu.)
- The tofu itself was 50.3% fat.
I am not saying that tofu is a bad or harmful product; I am just saying that it is not a whole plant and that it is heavy in fat. If you want to keep your overall fat intake under 20% of your calories, meals like these should not be a part of your normal routine. In order to make this a 4Leaf meal, you would need to cut the quantity of tofu by 75% and add in lots of veggies like broccoli, carrots, eggplant, mushroom, potato, etc.
Confession time. Occasionally, I have ordered the Crispy Tofu Salad at a local restaurant, but only very rarely. Without analyzing it, I knew that it derived most of it’s calories from the tofu (fried) and that it was nowhere near a 4Leaf meal. Now that I know that it is most definitely in the “No Leaf” range, I may never have it again. So, I too have benefited from this exercise.
To the uninformed person wanting to lose weight, dishes like these are simply not going to get the job done. FYI, other soy products like soy milk are also very high in fat.
Handy 5-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from Amazon.com
- The movie that’s changing the lives of millions: Forks Over Knives DVD
- Healthy Eating, Healthy World, The “big picture” about food (our book)
- An essential scientific resource: The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell
- Dr. McDougall’s latest book, The Starch Solution, with lots of great recipes
- Dr. Campbell’s new book: WHOLE, Rethinking the Science of Nutrition
Why should we be eating mostly plants? The “big picture” in 4 minutes.
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