Fasting is part of our religious tradition with benefits to both our mental and physical health. On the occasion of the period of Lent, which we are going through, some nutritional tips are useful for people who choose to fast.
Fasting is basically characterized by abstinence from most animal products, such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy products. The daily diet is covered with bread, rice, potatoes, pasta, cereals, legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and vegetable oils.
Fasting was used by our ancestors as well as documented in the popular survival book, The Lost Ways 2nd Edition. Read a review here.
The benefit to physical health is mainly found in periodic abstinence from certain products of animal origin such as meat and dairy products.
This minimizes the intake of saturated fat and cholesterol, which are contained in significant quantities in these foods.
In this way it is possible to improve the levels of some markers in people with hyperlipidemia, for example, there may be a decrease in cholesterol and/or triglycerides of the blood, a decrease in LDL “bad cholesterol” and the maintenance of normal levels in people who do not have a hyperlipidemia problem. Also, by avoiding cold cuts, meat products, and cheeses, the high intake of Sodium (salt), as well as harmful carcinogenic additives contained mainly in cold cuts, is avoided.
But there are also points to be noticed during fasting. Points of attention again arise from abstinence from food of animal origin. It is obvious that with the absence from the diet of a whole group of foods, the intake of certain useful substances is significantly reduced.
Such is the animal proteins, which as we know have a greater nutritional value than that of vegetable proteins, omega-3 fatty acids (fish), iron (the best source is meat), calcium (with excellent source dairy) and vitamin B12, which is present mainly in foods of animal origin.
Thus, during this period, some dietary choices can help prevent nutrient deficiencies from occurring.
Seafood (mussels, steriles, shrimps, etc.) are sources of high-value proteins, vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids and iron and can, in moderation, be included in the diet, through various recipes and combinations that achieve variety.
The combination of legumes with rice (eg lentils with rice) creates protein of high biological value and is an excellent combination of similar nutritional value to meat in terms of protein.
Good sources of calcium are almonds and nuts (preferable to consume unsalted uncooked), cabbage, spinach, broccoli, beans.
Sesame products (halva, tahini, pasteli) are used by many, during fasting, as a nutritional supplement. The most ideal choice is tahini (sesame pulp) and can be used for spreading on bread (alone or in combination with honey), in salads, pies, sauces.
It provides energy (calories), plant proteins of high biological value, beneficial unsaturated fatty acids, carbohydrates and fiber, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, as well as substances with strong antioxidant activity, such as vitamin E, selenium, lignans.
Thus, it replaces in a satisfactory way the animal proteins that are missing from the diet during the fasting period and enriches it with calcium and iron. In addition, it protects against cancer, heart disease, can lower blood cholesterol, improves bowel function, and has soothing properties.
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