This week I continue my series comparing meals from the Standard American Diet to grain-free alternatives.
Today will compare a healthy USDA-approved lunch, consisting of the following:
A sandwich made with:
2 slices whole wheat bread (enriched & fortified)
2 leaves of lettuce
2 slices turkey
2 slices ham
2 tablespoons honey-mustard dressing
1 8-ounce container of yogurt with fruit
1 medium apple
The grain-free meal will contain:
8 ounces salmon
1 ounce of walnuts
A salad made with:
2 cups mixed greens (spinach, romaine, lettuce, etc)
Both meals total less than 650 calories and take less than 15 minutes to prepare.
Here is a macronutrient breakdown of the two meals, including a comparison of the fatty acid quality (omegas) of each.
|.||Total Carbs||Fiber||Net Carbs||Protein||Sat Fat||Mono Fat||Omega 3||Omega 6|
The sandwich and fruit results in over 100 grams of sugar released into the bloodstream! Carbs are not inherently bad, but if this pattern is repeated regularly, for 3 meals a day, 7 days a week, diabetes and cardiovascular disease can result.
Even though “whole grains” are known for their fiber content, we see that a meal based around vegetables will provide far more fiber content. Fiber mitigates blood sugar spikes and maintains healthy gut function.
The most apparent difference is in the protein content. The sandwich and yogurt provides just over 20 grams of protein while the salmon salad weighs in at an impressive 50 grams. Imagine the benefits to cognitive functioning, physical performance, and body composition one could reap with such an adequate supply of amino acids!
Finally, we see that the omega 3-to-omega 6 ratio is about 1-to-10, risking an inflammatory state within the body. However, the salmon salad provides a much more balanced 1-to-1.3 O3-to-O6 ratio. A ratio in the range of 1-to-2 to 1-to-4 can help prevent cardiovascular disease, cancer, and certain neurological disorders.
Next is the vitamin comparison of the two meals:
|.||Vit A||Vit C||Vit D||Vit E||Vit K||Vit B6||Vit B12||Folate|
There’s really no need to examine any particular column. The numbers show that vegetables and healthy protein provide far more essential vitamins than refined grains, processed dairy, and “low-fat” deli meat.
Last is the mineral content of each meal:
Since the Standard Lunch includes yogurt, it will provide more calcium…but also a more acidic environment which may leech calcium from the bones.
The salmon salad still wins in every other category but we still see that grains are a decent source of minerals. As I mentioned last time however, a small serving of nuts will provide certain nutrients that aren’t found as abundantly in vegetables.
In conclusion, this side-by-side comparison of a “well-rounded, heart-healthy American lunch” and a salmon salad showcases the benefit of opting for more vegetables and healthy proteins.
Save the bread for the birds and start eating what nature provides!