Principles of Plant-Based Nutrition – Principle #1

Spinach

This is the first of an eight-part series: Principles of Plant-Based Nutrition

Principle #1: Nutrition is a Complex System of Countless Nutrients all Working Together

When people talk about the nutritional value of food, they often refer to a handful of key nutrients – protein, fat, carbohydrates – and in doing so they miss the bigger picture of what nutrition is really all about. There are literally thousands of nutrients in the foods we eat, and all of these nutrients work together in an amazing way to give us everything our bodies need to sustain us and provide us with optimal energy and growth. For an example of how many nutrients are found in the foods we eat, let’s take a look at just a few of the nutrients found in raw spinach:

Macronutrients
Water
Calories
Protein (many kinds)
Fat (many kinds)
Carbohydrate
Fiber
Minerals
Calcium
Iron
Magnesium
Phosphorus
Potassium
Sodium
Zinc
Copper
Manganese
Selenium
Vitamins
C
Thiamin
Riboflavin
Niacin
B6
Folate
A
E
Amino acids
Tryptophan
Threorine
Isoleucine
Leucine
Lysine
Methionine
Cystine
Phenylalanine
Tyrosine
Valine
Arginine
Fatty Acids
Myristic acid
Palmitic acid
Stearic acid
Palmitoleic acid
Oleic acid
Eicosenoic acid
Linoleic acid
Linolenic acid

Remember, this is just an abbreviated list. Click here to see the full nutrition report for raw spinach (it’s rather mind-blowing).

If these hundreds or thousands of nutrients are found in raw spinach, can you imagine the nutrition data for a big salad of mixed greens with fresh vegetables, nuts, seeds tossed in a tomato, avocado, and basil dressing? It’s unimaginable. The beautiful thing about whole foods is that they contain all of their intended nutrients, and all of these nutrients work together symbiotically to support each other as they are absorbed and metabolized by our bodies.

Nutrition is not simply a handful of key nutrients, it’s an unbelievably complex and delicate system of countless nutrients all working together. This speaks to the importance of eating a whole-food, plant-based diet. I don’t worry about trying to squeeze a few of those key nutrients into my diet; by eating a variety of whole foods I’m getting everything my body needs for optimal performance.

This is the first of an eight-part series: Principles of Plant-Based Nutrition

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