YMCA Winter 2020 | Page 10

AUTHOR EBONY MCCORKELL, APD. Ebony McCorkell is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and chef who has special interests in plant-based nutrition and gut health. She is passionate about improving cooking skills and helping people create delicious, satisfying, and sustainable meals. Follow Ebony at www.ebnutrition.net.au and on Facebook www.facebook.com/ebnutrition and Instagram eb_nutrition $100 of vegan ready meals to win on page 22 FEATURE ARTICLE WINTER 2020 In the Autumn edition we explored the benefits of eating more plants. Now let’s take a look at four important nutrients (and their dietary sources) for those interested in a plant-based diet. B12 A CLOSER LOOK AT PLANT-BASED DIETS Dietitian Ebony McCorkell takes us through some important nutrients for those following plant-based diets. B12 is a complicated vitamin, which takes on many forms, but the form of B12 we need does not naturally occur in plant foods. Foods fortified with B12 (e.g. nutritional yeast flakes, Marmite®, some mock meats and plant milks) can assist you in meeting your requirements, but the safest way to ensure you’re getting adequate B12 is to take a supplement. Talk to your doctor or dietitian for personalised advice. In our Autumn Edition, Charlotte Miller took us through the pros and cons of various plant milks. The key point for vegans is to ensure that your plant milk is fortified with at least 100mg calcium per 100ml. Other great vegan sources of calcium include calcium-set firm tofu (scan the ingredients for calcium or e516), soy beans, tahini/sesame seeds, chia seeds, bok choy, kale, chickpeas and cannellini beans. Iodine A low iodine diet can cause hypothyroidism, an enlarged thyroid gland (goitre) and can affect fertility, pregnancy and the development of newborns. Seafood contributes the most iodine in the typical Australian diet, followed closely by bread that has been fortified with iodised salt. Unless advised otherwise, we should all use iodised salt and breads. In my work as a dietitian, I often encounter clients taking plant foods (e.g. Spirulina) marketed as ‘natural B12 supplements’. Unfortunately, these have been found to contain pseudo-vitamin B12 - an inactive compound that actually inhibits our ability to absorb B12. For this reason, such supplements are not recommended. Calcium According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, dairy products contribute the largest amount of calcium in a typical Australian diet. For this reason, calcium content is a key consideration when switching to plant-based alternatives. People omitting seafood should include sea vegetables like sushi and nori at least twice per week. If you’re unable to meet your iodine requirements through diet, speak to your doctor about supplementation, as it’s important not to have too much. Protein Protein is abundant in plant-based diets. As a general rule, if you eat a varied diet with sufficient calories, you should be meeting your protein and essential amino acid requirements. Protein-rich plant foods include tempeh, tofu, ancient grains (e.g. quinoa), legumes, nuts, and seeds. Try to include at least two foods from these groups each day. Another bonus of these high protein foods is their provision of nutrients which may be harder to get in a plant-based diet, including iron, zinc, and selenium. 10 YMCA HEALTHY LIVING MAGAZINE