One of my few and rarefied readers commented on my last blog that following my advice (to “Don’t Put Junk in your Mouth”) would “lead to a serious protein deficiency.” My goodness! Really? That is frightening!
OK – it’s not really frightening. First, let me suggest that if you are an American and under the age of, say, 150, then the chances of having seen your friends suffer from symptoms of protein deficiency are, in percentage terms, somewhere between a trace and a negative number. The chances of having seen friends and family suffer from the toxicity of excess dietary protein are, in contrast, just a shade under 101 percent!
The SAD (standard American diet) is a veritable feast of protein – an orgy of protein doping. If you are or have ever suffered from protein deficiency, then hurry down to your family physician and alert the local and national new media to join you. This will be a spectacle that we haven’t seen in many lifetimes! The headlines: “First American patient to exhibit protein deficiency symptoms in over a century!”
Alright – I exaggerate just a bit. If you have been on a multi-week hunger strike – and some have done this – then you could very well be deficient in dietary protein. But if you are not currently actively starving yourself, then you are surely hosting ample protein in your system.
The other interesting twist on the reader’s comment was to juxtapose “spinach” and “bacon” in her assault on my advice, as in “you rate bacon as a 1.2 out of 5 on nutrient density, while failing to mention that bacon delivers the necessary protein that you could never get from spinach, despite it getting a full 5 out of 5 in your questionable ‘nutrient density’ scale.”
An interesting comparison, indeed! In my last blog, while I did compare spinach and bacon on both nutrient density and dietary fat content, I didn’t compare the two on dietary protein. Which do you think has the higher protein density? Bacon of spinach?
If you said spinach, then you get an A+ on your savvy comprehension of comparative macro-nutrient content from common food sources. Spinach delivers a whopping 30 percent of its calories from dietary protein. If you were to eat nothing but spinach (don’t try this – for lots of reasons!) you would be ingesting a hugely excessive amount of dietary protein, far more than your body can use and far more than is safe for you to consume. And the same could be said for bacon, which delivers 29 percent of its calories from protein, and, as pointed out in the last blog, 70 percent of its calories from dietary fat – and virtually no nutrition!
When I think of dense sources of dietary protein, I think of spinach (30 percent), bok choi (32 percent) and edamame (31 percent). All three of these foods are highly nutrient dense as well as protein dense – and all three deliver a far greater percentage of calories from protein than is healthful or safe.
So if you are worried about not getting enough protein because you are not eating meat, you can stop worrying. If you are still eating meat and dairy, you can start worrying about coronary artery disease, diabetes, and myriad other chronic infirmities that are the bane of our SAD civilization.