Posts Tagged ‘ Omega 3 ’

There’s Fish in My Orange Juice

Really, I didn’t buy it.  But while shopping and deciding between the too many options for OJ I started reading labels.  Tropicana’s Heart Healthy Omega 3 enriched juice is enriched with sardines and anchovies.  I’m certain this would have disgusted me even when I was eating fish.  Do the people at Tropicana know that Omega 3’s can be found in flax seed?  Or simpler, what’s wrong with expecting nothing but oranges in my OJ?

This got me wondering what other products are out there that we consume as vegetarians that aren’t actually veg friendly?  Many of these ubiquious products I was aware of but then there were a few that even surprised me.  I decided to comprise a list of items vegetarians might not realize contain animal products.

Sara Lee and Wonder have both gotten caught up in the Omega 3 craze.  They both offer DHA enriched breads.  DHA is found is fatty fish.  Vegetarian sources are available in seaweed.

Parmesan Cheese:  This one really surprised me.  It contains Rennet which is s a natural complex of enzymes  produced in a mammal’s stomach meant to digest the mother’s milk.  This is making me think harder about becoming a vegan.  There is such a fine line between it all.

Many frosted cereals are not veg because the frosting contains gelatin.  Gelatin is really quite awful when you get down to it.  Ingredients include boiled bones, tendons, and animal skins.  Frosted Mini Wheat’s top the list and any cereal that contain marshmallows.  Frosted Flakes are actually considered vegan.  Also, avoid frosted items like Pop Tarts, they contain gelatin and  and in reality serve no nutritional purpose anyway.

A majority of cereals contain D3.  Sources of D3  are either lanolin or fish.  I’m not sure how you find out which source other than contacting a company directly.  Lanolin is one of those items that that might be considered alright depending upon your personal beliefs.

Many yogurts also contain gelatin.  I purchase Publix store brand which thickens with cornstarch instead.  Read labels carefully before purchasing.

Vegetarian Pad Thai when ordered out will almost always contain fish sauce which unsurprisingly is made from fish. You can purchase vegetarian fish sauce but I haven’t found it locally.  This one really bummed me out.  It was a favorite of mine when dining out.  I haven’t made a vegetarian version that’s worth posting yet.  Hopefully one day!

Refrigerated pie dough contain lard which is rendered fat from a pig.  I am able to find veg versions in the frozen aisle.  It’s also quite easy to make and roll out your own pie dough.

Many chocolates contain emulsifiers and whey.  Emulsifiers are also lecithin which is often derived from animal fat,  Veg sources would  likely be from genetically modified soybeans. Ghirardelli makes vegetarian chocolate.  One of my favorite snacks is munching on baking chocolate chips right out of the bag.  Yet another reason weight loss is an issue!

Some beer and wine contain isinglass.  This is a collagen derived from dried swim bladders of fish.

Any pill that is gel coated is coated  in gelatin.  My Dr suggested I take vitamin E and I found that CVS store brand has a liquid form that is vegetarian.

The natural flavoring that is added to almost all commericially produced french fries contain beef tallow.  Make your own.

Ok, this is enough depressing news for one day.  Sorry about that, but I do think it’s important that we know what we’re consuming.  In the near future I will post a list of foods that are surprisingly vegetarian.  To leave you on a good note I will mention that Oreo’s are vegan!

Do Vegetarians Lack Certain Nutrients?

People love to talk about how unhealthy a vegetarian diet can be.  Many are certain that vegetarians are all lacking proteins, anemic, and generally unhealthy.  Of course that is all untrue.  As a matter of fact some of our healthiest athletes are vegan, abstaining from all animal products.  Heisman trophy winner Desmond Howard is vegan, as well as tennis player Martina Navratilova, Nicky Cole the first woman to walk to the North Pole and countless others.  It’s hard to imagine that they are lacking anything while having their bodies perform at such incredible levels.

Personally, I am very careful to eat a balanced diet, ensuring that I am consuming ample sources of a variety of nutrients to meet my bodies needs.  Recently my Dr did some blood work checking for potential deficiencies and I’m glad to report that my only concern is a vitamin D deficiency.  This is a deficiency shared by many Americans eating a variety of diets.  However, I wanted to find good sources of nutrients that are important to vegetarians.  Here’s what I found:

Protein is essential to the growth of strong muscles, it repairs tissues and helps maintain our hormonal and immune system.  I don’t seem to have any difficulty consuming protein, many foods I enjoy provide an adequate source of it.  These foods include legumes, nuts, seeds, and sietan.  Other sources of protein are quinoa, tofu, broccoli, kale, and spinich.

B 12 is the hardest vitamin to find in the vitamin world.  It is mainly found in eggs, dairy and meat products.  Outside of that one must consume it in fortified products such as cereals or soy milk.  There is a nutritional yeast product that contains this vitamin in a vegan form.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids play an important role in brain function and reduce the risk of heart disease.  Many people get these essential fats from fish or fish oil supplements.  Supplements are prone to going bad where the oils inside the gel caplet are rancid.  I prefer getting mine from natural sources.  These include walnuts, ground flax seed, and canola oil.  If you consume eggs you can find some with higher sources of omega 3s.  I like to add walnuts or ground flax seed to my morning smoothie.

Folate supports cell growth and allows nerves to function properly.  A deficiency in this might irritability, fatigue general and muscular, depression and insomnia.  Some of the best vegetarian sources of folate include lentils, many cooked beans such as pinto and garbanzo beans, cooked spinich, and collard greens.

Vitamin D is a favorite of mine.  The dairy industry is trying to convince us that their products are the best sources of vitamin D but that’s not true.  People in Eastern countries that consume far less dairy have much lower incidence of osteoporosis.  This is mainly because they get their sources of vitamin D from a plant based diet which is what humans were meant to eat.  The easiest source of this vitamin is right outside your door, sunlight!  Spend a few minutes in the sun everyday and it will naturally boost your levels.  It is found in many fortified products such as soy or rice milk and many cereals.  It can also be found naturally in many varieties of wild mushrooms.  Although I live in the Sunshine State I am deficient in this vitamin and have started taking a vegetarian supplement.

To me supplements should be a last option, one used after attempting to eat a healthy well rounded diet.  Many people disagree with this and find that taking supplements enhance their lives.  Personally I have an aversion to taking any pills unless necessary but that is not to say that I am medication or supplement free.  Ultimately, I guess it’s all about finding the right balance for yourself.