Lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grain products, meat, sausage or eggs only in moderation: this is what a healthy diet looks like. Anyone who also cooks their own food, consciously plans meals and tries to eat healthily with little money, has by definition good nutrition skills.
A study by the AOK Federal Association showed that this is not particularly pronounced in Germany. The finding: More than half of Germans lack knowledge about healthy eating. Especially with the younger ones there is a huge problem. Of the young people between the ages of 18 and 24, just 37 percent showed that they are well versed in healthy eating. The respondents also had particularly great difficulties in choosing the right product. Around 72 percent said they lacked the tools to identify healthy foods.
“There is often little interest,” says author and nutrition expert Christian Wenzel. In addition, there is a great deal of comfort and a stressful everyday life, which often makes it difficult to eat healthily. There is a sandwich for breakfast and a quick ready-made meal for lunch. Then there are some vegetables in it. But also sugar, binding agents, flavor enhancers, preservatives and flavors.
If you want to eat healthily, you should therefore make sure to eat untreated products that come from organic farming if possible. This means that the vegetables have not been genetically treated, and no synthetic chemical pesticides have been used. You can recognize such foods by the EU organic seal, for example. Cultivation associations such as Bioland, Naturland or Demeter, which Wenzel also recommends, offer even higher standards. A quick Thai curry can be easily cooked from the vegetables. Or you can spice it up with quinoa, buckwheat or whole grain rice and turn it into a healthy bowl that you take to the office the next day.
Broccoli is the superstar
Incidentally, one of the favorite vegetables of nutrition expert Christian Wenzel is broccoli. The green vegetables contain a lot of protein and other important nutrients such as potassium, folic acid, vitamin A or vitamin C. “These are all substances that our body urgently needs.”
According to Wenzel, however, you should be careful with ready-made meals made from soy, which often replace meat in a vegetarian or vegan diet. “In my opinion, classic soy products are not always beneficial to health,” he says. These are not fermented products like miso paste or tempeh, but products like tofu or soy milk.
In science, opinions about the effects of soy are drifting apart. What is certain is that the beans contain valuable vitamins, minerals and trace elements. Because of its high protein content, the legume is particularly popular with vegetarians and vegans.
Substances that are similar to our sex hormones are controversial
The so-called isoflavones contained in soybeans are controversial. Because these are similar to the sex hormone estrogen. Therefore, there is a debate as to whether the legumes might promote breast cancer. Animal experiments have shown that isoflavones can have both cancer-promoting and cell-protective effects. Looking at the overall situation, however, studies have not yet indicated that soy isoflavones worsen the prognosis of breast cancer patients. The German Cancer Research Center therefore considers a moderate consumption of soy to be harmless. So in moderation, these products can contribute to a healthy diet. The Federal Institute for Risk Research advises against feeding babies or toddlers with soy milk.
If you eat soy products, you should definitely make sure that they are grown organically and that they come from Europe. In Latin America in particular, huge areas of rainforest are being cleared for the cultivation of soybeans. The legumes from countries like Brazil are mainly used for animal feed. A vegan diet therefore contributes less to the deforestation of the rainforests than one with animal products.
In addition, finished products such as vegetarian sausages or minced meat often contain a lot of sugar, salt and flavor enhancers. The proportion of fat in meat substitutes is often no less than in conventional steaks. What the nutrition expert advises against in any case are vegan burgers like the Beyond Meat Patties. “I’d rather eat a good piece of meat once a week that comes from an organic farm,” says Wenzel, who is vegan himself.
21 ingredient patty
The burger has a clear ethical advantage because animal suffering can be avoided with it. But it is not healthy and sustainable. With 21 ingredients, the patty is a fairly highly processed product. Ökotest only rates Beyond Meat as sufficient. The criticism: The experts have shown significantly increased amounts of mineral oil components in the laboratory. In addition, the unnecessary use of flavor-enhancing yeast extract is criticized. The product is also produced in the USA, delivered frozen to Europe, thawed again here and then offered.
If you are looking for an alternative to soybeans, Wenzel advises you to rely on local products such as lupine. “This is the perfect alternative,” says the nutrition expert. The legume has as much protein as the soybean and is grown regionally in Germany. Because Wenzel is so convinced of the lupine, he wrote a cookbook with recipes. He revealed five of them to NewsABC.net.