“We shouldn’t be vegetarians, but we should be almost vegetarians”, is Joao Breda’s declaration, a World Health Organization (WHO) expert, which took by surprise the audience at a conference on healthy nutrition in Romania. He explained that vegetal foods should prevail in any person’s diet, meaning we should be vegetarians 70-80% of the time, and eat no more than 60 grams of meat a day.
Also present at the same conference, the Head of the WHO Office in Romania, Victor Olsavszky, explained the benefits of eating 400 grams of vegetables every day. Besides vitamins, vegetables also have lots of fibers, which adjust gastrointestinal transit and can prevent digestive diseases, including serious ones such as colon cancer.
We shouldn’t eat more than 60 grams of meat per day; however, the WHO representatives advocate that fish can be consumed in larger quantities, as it is rich in healthy fats. On the other hand, the two experts bring to our attention the low quality vegetable oils used for cooking and the processed foods, which contain trans fatty acids.
Romanians became sedentary: at least 150 minutes per week are needed
Victor Olsavszky stated that “Romania is not as active as other European countries”, and recommended light running, walking and other types of exercise, but sum up at least 150 minutes per week. For now, Romania is ranked in the middle of the European obesity top, but it tends to grow so we must intervene now. Otherwise, calories will not store up only on our abdomen, but also on the arteries, which increases the risk for diabetes, hypertension or even heart failure or stroke.
In vain we increase the life expectancy if we spend our last years in a wheelchair or paralyzed. – Victor Olsavszky, WHO
WHO and Global Center for Nutrition and Health in Copenhagen worked out a national healthy foods basket which Romanians should eat every day and which they would afford. The two institutions concluded that the value of the daily minimum value of the basket that would insure all necessary nutrients for a family of four would be around 20 lei (5 US dollars).
What would this basket with healthy foods include (not only for vegetarians)
- Whole flour
- Bran bread
- Pork liver
This is a minimum healthy foods basket, although I personally do not consider pork liver as healthy, but this list of foods can be extended – according to WHO – by adding apples, rice, leek and many types of fish.