"Whole Food" Diet?

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"Whole Food" Diet?

Postby Fallen_Horse » Sat Jun 30, 2012 7:31 am

Anybody try this one? It's quite simple, just eating 'whole foods.' What does that mean? Only a food that has not been separated from any of it's components due to mechanical or chemical processes, but it doesn't matter if a food has been cooked or not. This means you would only eat:

Nuts
Seeds
Legumes
Fruits
Vegetables
Whole grains
Spices

There is still some confusion if tofu/tempeh should be included, and I think it could go either way.

Anyway, I think this would be an ideal diet for health and athletic performance, but I suppose the real challenge is following it, just like the challenge posed by any other diet. Has anyone here tried or done this?
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Re: "Whole Food" Diet?

Postby baldy » Sat Jun 30, 2012 8:18 am

[quote="Fallen_Horse"] I think this would be an ideal diet for health and athletic performance

Why do you think it would be good for an athlete?

I think it would be good if you are trying to loose weight simply because you would probably eat less calories due to eating less calorie dense food.
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Re: "Whole Food" Diet?

Postby tal » Sat Jun 30, 2012 8:52 am

Why would foods that do not fall within those categories be suboptimal for health and performance?
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Re: "Whole Food" Diet?

Postby jpowell » Sat Jun 30, 2012 9:06 am

[quote="Fallen_Horse"]Anyway, I think this would be an ideal diet for health and athletic performance


What Baldy said. Also, I think different athletes may have VERY different nutritional needs, depending on their sport amongst other things.

For many athletes, it would be quite difficult to get enough energy intake on the diet due to high fibre content, unless they consume mostly nuts and sweet fruits, and I am not convinced either are an "ideal" energy source. In fact, there are health issues with very high consumption of either (fructose, ratio of omega6 to omega3 polyunsaturated fats). Allowance of some part grains (e.g. white rice) may help greatly in this regard.

Is seaweed included as a vegetable? To me, it should be, but to some this may not be obvious. Without it, there may be a struggle to get enough magnesium for optimal performance, and enough iodine for optimal health.

Zinc could be an issue for some athletes on this diet (I presume supplements are excluded if you follow it strictly). Soaking pumpkin and sunflower seeds in muesli might help to a degree, so it's not necessarily a massive issue.

People will come up with complaints about calcium, but I believe if you eat the right greens and enough of them, you could do alright.

If all supplements are strictly excluded, people will come up with complaints about B12, which I think are nutritionally valid. A B12 supplement or fortified nutritional yeast can solve this, and is probably advisable for all vegans and many non-vegans.

Inclusion of malt extract/malt syrup from a fermentation process of grains would vastly improve this diet for most athletes. It is a relatively natural product that effectively offers a fairly slow release sugar, metabolizing to all glucose (usable for energy) instead of, like table sugar and most fruit, about half glucose, half fructose (where most of the fructose has to be converted to fat first, damaging your liver in the process and providing less ideal energy release for athletic performance). I would argue that for some athletes, inclusion even of processed glucose from grains and/or maltodextrin would be of further benefit, but I can see the health risk is not done carefully and how it doesn't key in with your overall concept.

This diet can be low in lysine, IF you are not careful with it, which is a factor even for health, and many athletes need quite a bit more lysine than the general population, even when their overall protein needs aren't much higher. Effectively, unless you want a prohibitively expensive diet, it implies consuming lots of legumes. That may work well for some, be harder for others. From this perspective, I highly recommend you include tempeh. Other high lysine wholefoods are parsley (only per calorie, not per dollar or per gram), spirulina (expensive), pistachio nuts (expensive), peanuts (technically they are a legume), oats (only per dollar or compared to other grains, they are not really high), amaranth and quinoa seeds (only compared to other grains, and not per dollar, I see them as more trendy than useful). Perhaps you could also include wheat germ, it's quite affordable and, unlike the whole wheat grain, offers a much higher protein content per calorie, good lysine content per gram of protein (6%) and relatively good fatty acid profile (12% of polyunsaturates are omega3).

Is oil included in your diet? Technically, this is a processed food, and actually from a health perspective, where standard heat or chemically extracted oils or a lot of high heat oil cooking are involved, this might not be such a technicality. You can probably get some quite rapid initial weight loss but not good health or performance by just ditching all oils, however I think for best nutritional quality, your best bet is to substitute seeds and plenty of a select range of cold pressed oils, preferably raw (e.g. salad dressings) or very lightly cooked, watching the omega6:omega3 ratio (you want to bring it down to about 3 or 4 to 1, which is very different to a "standard" diet or "standard" vegan diet.


Other than those points, it's very close to what I'm trying to eat, and working well for me.
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Re: "Whole Food" Diet?

Postby jpowell » Sat Jun 30, 2012 9:31 am

[quote="Talyn"]Why would foods that do not fall within those categories be suboptimal for health and performance?


Typically lower in readily absorbable minerals and antioxidants, even some vitamins (e.g. vitamin E. Often when they do contain these things, they are added back in from a lab formulation that is NOT quite as fully used by your body as the range of slightly different forms that naturally occur in foods. Magnesium can be a key mineral for performance. The best sources are seaweed, some whole seeds, e.g. unhulled sesame, dark green vegetables, fish (non-vegan) and supplements. Manganese is readily available from most vegetables but not from most processed foods and is a key mineral for your body to make its own potent antioxidants, especially ones used at cardio and muscular levels during exercise. Most credible arguments I have seen against the importance of dietary antioxidants either focus on these endogenous antioxidants, or on the uric acid effect whereby a large proportion of polyphenols are processed and buffered in the blood (which does create a pH effect and possibly some antioxidant value in itself, but can be replicated with citric, acetic or malic acids, i.e. citrus fruit, vinegar, sorrel and whole granny smith apples - my current thinking on that is that those are also good antioxidants in that case, even if they don't score well on ORAC).

Typically very high, in some cases extremely high, in sodium, which can actually be good DURING long periods of moderate to high intensity exercise (due to temporary pressure on your body's internal sodium regulation mechanisms, due to both high fluid consumption and sweating), but not so great at other times, even or perhaps especially if you do such exercise. A high sodium diet is not generally advised by dietitians or sports nutritionists. It can lead to significantly increased morbidity, mainly through risk of Coronary Artery Disease, increased non-functional water weight (your body trying to dilute the sodium in your blood to ameliorate its effects) and to some extent or in extreme cases, lower health and function of most of your vital organs as your body tries to "steal" water from them for the same purpose.

Typically much higher in omega6 polyunsaturated fats, with usually negligible omega3 content, even more so in "junk food" which is vegan. A high omega6 to omega3 ratio, as present in most people's diets, can promote some level of inflammation and limit conversion of ALA (plant based omega3) to EPA to DHA, the types of omega3 fat that we need for key bodily functions. This is a concern for anyone, but especially for vegans who don't take a DHA supplement. Omega3 nutrition status has been linked in many scientific health studies to all sorts of areas of health, heart health, cognition (especially speed, focus) and psych/mental health (your brain is about 45% DHA), eyesight. Some of these can effect performance, and the inflammation issue could be exascerbated in many athletes.

Probable contamination to some extent with other toxins, colourings, additives, etc. which may not be fatal in most cases, but your body is not evolved to process ideally
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Re: "Whole Food" Diet?

Postby tal » Sat Jun 30, 2012 2:00 pm

[quote="jpowell"][quote="Talyn"]Why would foods that do not fall within those categories be suboptimal for health and performance?


Typically lower in readily absorbable minerals and antioxidants, even some vitamins (e.g. vitamin E. Often when they do contain these things, they are added back in from a lab formulation that is NOT quite as fully used by your body as the range of slightly different forms that naturally occur in foods. Magnesium can be a key mineral for performance. The best sources are seaweed, some whole seeds, e.g. unhulled sesame, dark green vegetables, fish (non-vegan) and supplements. Manganese is readily available from most vegetables but not from most processed foods and is a key mineral for your body to make its own potent antioxidants, especially ones used at cardio and muscular levels during exercise. Most credible arguments I have seen against the importance of dietary antioxidants either focus on these endogenous antioxidants, or on the uric acid effect whereby a large proportion of polyphenols are processed and buffered in the blood (which does create a pH effect and possibly some antioxidant value in itself, but can be replicated with citric, acetic or malic acids, i.e. citrus fruit, vinegar, sorrel and whole granny smith apples - my current thinking on that is that those are also good antioxidants in that case, even if they don't score well on ORAC).

Typically very high, in some cases extremely high, in sodium, which can actually be good DURING long periods of moderate to high intensity exercise (due to temporary pressure on your body's internal sodium regulation mechanisms, due to both high fluid consumption and sweating), but not so great at other times, even or perhaps especially if you do such exercise. A high sodium diet is not generally advised by dietitians or sports nutritionists. It can lead to significantly increased morbidity, mainly through risk of Coronary Artery Disease, increased non-functional water weight (your body trying to dilute the sodium in your blood to ameliorate its effects) and to some extent or in extreme cases, lower health and function of most of your vital organs as your body tries to "steal" water from them for the same purpose.

Typically much higher in omega6 polyunsaturated fats, with usually negligible omega3 content, even more so in "junk food" which is vegan. A high omega6 to omega3 ratio, as present in most people's diets, can promote some level of inflammation and limit conversion of ALA (plant based omega3) to EPA to DHA, the types of omega3 fat that we need for key bodily functions. This is a concern for anyone, but especially for vegans who don't take a DHA supplement. Omega3 nutrition status has been linked in many scientific health studies to all sorts of areas of health, heart health, cognition (especially speed, focus) and psych/mental health (your brain is about 45% DHA), eyesight. Some of these can effect performance, and the inflammation issue could be exascerbated in many athletes.

Probable contamination to some extent with other toxins, colourings, additives, etc. which may not be fatal in most cases, but your body is not evolved to process ideally


I never suggested someone only eat foods that aren't part of that list, so you're beating a strawman. My question was to do with why can't the list be longer and not so restricted. There is nothing wrong with someone eating enough healthy foods to hit sufficient vitamin/mineral/omega3 amounts and then eat some other type of food because they want to, or they enjoy it.
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Re: "Whole Food" Diet?

Postby thestoatyone » Sat Jun 30, 2012 3:38 pm

Tempeh would be in, but tofu out by my reckoning.

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Re: "Whole Food" Diet?

Postby Fallen_Horse » Sat Jun 30, 2012 6:13 pm

Yay, lots of replies!

[quote="baldy"]....
I think it would be good if you are trying to loose weight simply because you would probably eat less calories due to eating less calorie dense food.

Besides the obvious nuts and seeds, I have never had trouble gaining weight on the above-mentioned foods. There could perhaps be some extreme examples where someone needs 5 or 6K calories per day to thrive, and I suppose at that point I would look to an unrefined oil for additional calories, but oil is certainly not the optimal choice.

[quote="Talyn"]Why would foods that do not fall within those categories be suboptimal for health and performance?


I have yet to find a 'partial' food or a food extract that is healthier than that same food in it's unrefined state. If you have some examples, I would be interested to hear about them!

[quote="jpowell"][quote="Fallen_Horse"]Anyway, I think this would be an ideal diet for health and athletic performance


What Baldy said. Also, I think different athletes may have VERY different nutritional needs, depending on their sport amongst other things.

For many athletes, it would be quite difficult to get enough energy intake on the diet due to high fibre content, unless they consume mostly nuts and sweet fruits, and I am not convinced either are an "ideal" energy source. In fact, there are health issues with very high consumption of either (fructose, ratio of omega6 to omega3 polyunsaturated fats). Allowance of some part grains (e.g. white rice) may help greatly in this regard.

Is seaweed included as a vegetable? To me, it should be, but to some this may not be obvious. Without it, there may be a struggle to get enough magnesium for optimal performance, and enough iodine for optimal health.

Zinc could be an issue for some athletes on this diet (I presume supplements are excluded if you follow it strictly). Soaking pumpkin and sunflower seeds in muesli might help to a degree, so it's not necessarily a massive issue.

People will come up with complaints about calcium, but I believe if you eat the right greens and enough of them, you could do alright.

If all supplements are strictly excluded, people will come up with complaints about B12, which I think are nutritionally valid. A B12 supplement or fortified nutritional yeast can solve this, and is probably advisable for all vegans and many non-vegans.

Inclusion of malt extract/malt syrup from a fermentation process of grains would vastly improve this diet for most athletes. It is a relatively natural product that effectively offers a fairly slow release sugar, metabolizing to all glucose (usable for energy) instead of, like table sugar and most fruit, about half glucose, half fructose (where most of the fructose has to be converted to fat first, damaging your liver in the process and providing less ideal energy release for athletic performance). I would argue that for some athletes, inclusion even of processed glucose from grains and/or maltodextrin would be of further benefit, but I can see the health risk is not done carefully and how it doesn't key in with your overall concept.

This diet can be low in lysine, IF you are not careful with it, which is a factor even for health, and many athletes need quite a bit more lysine than the general population, even when their overall protein needs aren't much higher. Effectively, unless you want a prohibitively expensive diet, it implies consuming lots of legumes. That may work well for some, be harder for others. From this perspective, I highly recommend you include tempeh. Other high lysine wholefoods are parsley (only per calorie, not per dollar or per gram), spirulina (expensive), pistachio nuts (expensive), peanuts (technically they are a legume), oats (only per dollar or compared to other grains, they are not really high), amaranth and quinoa seeds (only compared to other grains, and not per dollar, I see them as more trendy than useful). Perhaps you could also include wheat germ, it's quite affordable and, unlike the whole wheat grain, offers a much higher protein content per calorie, good lysine content per gram of protein (6%) and relatively good fatty acid profile (12% of polyunsaturates are omega3).

Is oil included in your diet? Technically, this is a processed food, and actually from a health perspective, where standard heat or chemically extracted oils or a lot of high heat oil cooking are involved, this might not be such a technicality. You can probably get some quite rapid initial weight loss but not good health or performance by just ditching all oils, however I think for best nutritional quality, your best bet is to substitute seeds and plenty of a select range of cold pressed oils, preferably raw (e.g. salad dressings) or very lightly cooked, watching the omega6:omega3 ratio (you want to bring it down to about 3 or 4 to 1, which is very different to a "standard" diet or "standard" vegan diet.


Other than those points, it's very close to what I'm trying to eat, and working well for me.


Nuts and seeds can have a very good omega ratio, such as walnuts, so the key would be to keep a good balance of all kinds of nuts and seeds in the diet.

I would think that seaweed is a vegetable for sure, and quite delicious and healthy!

I would definitely include supplements with this diet, and with any other diet as well, especially if you are an athlete. No reason to gamble with your health. :)

I have never heard that fructose must be converted to fat in order to be digested. Do you have a link for where you found that information?

Again, I would never recommend an oil over a whole food, but I understand how it could be difficult to plan and consume meals without using oils.
Last edited by Fallen_Horse on Sat Jun 30, 2012 6:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "Whole Food" Diet?

Postby baldy » Sat Jun 30, 2012 6:14 pm

Image
These are almonds, you are allowed to eat them as long as you don't use any mechanical or chemical processes to separate the components. I am of course just taking the piss, to show how ridiculous these "rules" are.
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Re: "Whole Food" Diet?

Postby jpowell » Sat Jun 30, 2012 9:36 pm

[quote="Talyn"]
I never suggested someone only eat foods that aren't part of that list, so you're beating a strawman. My question was to do with why can't the list be longer and not so restricted. There is nothing wrong with someone eating enough healthy foods to hit sufficient vitamin/mineral/omega3 amounts and then eat some other type of food


Actually, no. I was addressing your question as to why eating other foods might be suboptimal, and if I was defending or attacking anything, more so defending the OP's proposed diet, to an extent. You can see from my other response that I do not in fact consider following this diet strictly/literally to be ideal, but as a basis for most of your nutrition/food, I actually support it.

My reasons DO stand in regards to your model of eating some of these foods plus some others when you feel like it. There is in my book nothing "wrong" with that, either, just if you can't really address the points I raised while doing so, then very likely your nutritional plan isn't optimal for your health or performance, but maybe it needn't, maybe you are happy with "good enough" on those counts and have other priorities in regards to food.

Here's how my reasons still stand:

Mineral and antioxidant rich: this will vary for different people's needs, but if you eat too much "other foods", you might very well not have enough room left in your nutrition schedule to meet ideal quantities of these. There is a difference between "sufficient" and "ideal". For vitamins, this is less so, and adequate vitamins are more easily obtained, hence I didn't emphasize vitamins.

Omega3/Omega6 ratio. If you eat lots more omega 6 in your "other" foods (incredibly highly likely) then having some predetermined "sufficient" omega3 amount will not guarantee you a good ratio at all. How could it? I actually don't think the OP's diet comes close to guaranteeing it either, I think this is something that, if you care, you should watch as a function of your entire food intake, in much the same way as many people obsess, often far more needlessly, over macronutrient ratios.

You can't limit your total sodium intake by limiting the sodium intake within only some of the foods you consume!

Of course, all this really depends how much other foods you consume, and what they are.
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Re: "Whole Food" Diet?

Postby jpowell » Sat Jun 30, 2012 10:16 pm

[quote="Fallen_Horse"]
Nuts and seeds can have a very good omega ratio, such as walnuts, so the key would be to keep a good balance of all kinds of nuts and seeds in the diet.


MUCH easier said than done. The "good" ratio in walnuts is actually only about 20% of polyunsaturated fat is omega3. This is in fact at the low end of what seems to be ideal across your whole diet, so not high enough to bring your diet up to an ideal ratio if other foods are higher in omega6. Macadamias, pecan nuts and wheat germ are sort of close to good too, but not even as good as walnuts on this score. The only seeds I am aware of that are better are linseed, chia, hemp, mustard, canola, perilla and possibly that sacha inchi thing from peru (I haven't checked into that one properly). How much of those do you actually eat? Linseed has by far the highest ratio, but may in fact have some potential disadvantages to eating the whole seed (depending on what your objectives are). Therefore linseed oil, and going easy on (but not getting rid of), the high omega6 seeds in your diet, seems like by far the easiest way to keep this in control.

[quote="Fallen_Horse"]
I would definitely include supplements with this diet, and with any other diet

We're probably pretty well in agreement then: food first for all nutrients, wherever practical and ethical, and then supplements, unashamedly, to top up any nutrients that need it.

[quote="Fallen_Horse"]
I have never heard that fructose must be converted to fat in order to be digested. Do you have a link for where you found that information?

I can't remember where I first saw it, there are so many articles that all say the same thing. I did a Google search for "fructose metabolism" and here is one picked from the top results that seemed like a good balance of scientific/credible and accessible/easy to read. Unfortunately, the particular article does reference some animal studies, but a lot of articles do, or are based partly on ones that do, or are based on fabrication. It's a very hard issue, but I don't think that refusing to acknowledge any nutritional science purely because it has been influenced by work involving animal studies will, in the bigger picture, further the cause of vegan principled nutritional research or help our understanding.

[quote="Fallen_Horse"]
Again, I would never recommend an oil over a whole food, but I understand how it could be difficult to plan and consume meals without using oils.

I typically wouldn't IF all other things are equal (i.e. same oil as the whole food it came from), but even then NEVER is too much of a stretch. I just did recommend linseed oil, and while I won't say it's necessarily optimal to occasionally cook some food with oil, it can be nice for variety and really not TOO bad if you don't overheat and you use low omega6 oils like macadamia, coconut, olive or avocado oil (even peanut or canola oils are moderately low in omega6, and are cheaper, but more likely processed in a way that could be less than ideal for health).

If you want to eat enough fat for optimal health without a big impact on omega6 to omega3 ratio then coconut, avocado, olives and macadamia nuts are your friends. Sometimes (not always) it is so much more practical and affordable to get the cold press oil than the whole food, and the health difference so negligible, that in practice I feel like you're much better off welcoming these oils into your diet as full qualified valid foods, rather than letting it be an issue.
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Re: "Whole Food" Diet?

Postby jpowell » Sat Jun 30, 2012 10:27 pm

[quote="jpowell"]I did a Google search for "fructose metabolism" and here is one picked from the top results.


Here it is:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 221742.htm

Or you can just do the search yourself as a starting point, if you really want to look into it.
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Re: "Whole Food" Diet?

Postby ColleenE » Sat Jun 30, 2012 11:46 pm

[quote="jpowell"]

[quote="Fallen_Horse"]
Again, I would never recommend an oil over a whole food, but I understand how it could be difficult to plan and consume meals without using oils.

I typically wouldn't IF all other things are equal (i.e. same oil as the whole food it came from), but even then NEVER is too much of a stretch. I just did recommend linseed oil, and while I won't say it's necessarily optimal to occasionally cook some food with oil, it can be nice for variety and really not TOO bad if you don't overheat and you use low omega6 oils like macadamia, coconut, olive or avocado oil (even peanut or canola oils are moderately low in omega6, and are cheaper, but more likely processed in a way that could be less than ideal for health).

If you want to eat enough fat for optimal health without a big impact on omega6 to omega3 ratio then coconut, avocado, olives and macadamia nuts are your friends. Sometimes (not always) it is so much more practical and affordable to get the cold press oil than the whole food, and the health difference so negligible, that in practice I feel like you're much better off welcoming these oils into your diet as full qualified valid foods, rather than letting it be an issue.


So you're saying it's better to eat an avocado than to have avocado oil, flaxseeds instead of flaxseed oil? Besides the fiber factor, what is the reason? (I'm not being snarky, I'm really curious!)
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Re: "Whole Food" Diet?

Postby Fallen_Horse » Sun Jul 01, 2012 12:29 am

[quote="baldy"]....
These are almonds, you are allowed to eat them as long as you don't use any mechanical or chemical processes to separate the components. I am of course just taking the piss, to show how ridiculous these "rules" are.

Obviously the rule excludes foods that are indigestible to humans. I could also say that grass is a whole food, and therefore should be included, but I didn't because obviously grass isn't digestible. If you want me to add tires, pens, cement, etc. to the list then I guess I can. :D

[quote="ColleenE"]....
So you're saying it's better to eat an avocado than to have avocado oil, flaxseeds instead of flaxseed oil? Besides the fiber factor, what is the reason? (I'm not being snarky, I'm really curious!)


Avocado's http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1844/2
vs
Avocado oil http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fats-and-oils/620/2

Flax http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3163/2
vs
Flax oil http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fats-and-oils/7554/2

If you look through, you can see that refined oils carry almost none of the original vitamins, minerals, protein, and yes, fiber, of the original foods. Oil is essentially trash on the food scale, similar to extracted sugars and packaged foods. However, it is quite tasty and can be very helpful in cooking, so it's something that I haven't eliminated from my diet yet....
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Re: "Whole Food" Diet?

Postby ColleenE » Sun Jul 01, 2012 2:35 am

[quote="ColleenE"]....
If you look through, you can see that refined oils carry almost none of the original vitamins, minerals, protein, and yes, fiber, of the original foods. Oil is essentially trash on the food scale, similar to extracted sugars and packaged foods. However, it is quite tasty and can be very helpful in cooking, so it's something that I haven't eliminated from my diet yet....


Thanks for those links. I guess I would counter that taking flax oil rather than ground flax seeds has a purpose too--
one tbsp of ground flax seeds has only 3 grams of fat, versus flax oil which has 13. If you're looking for concentrated good fats, drizzling a tbsp of flax oil seems to be more ideal than taking all those flaxseeds. Plus, eating healthy as a vegan means already getting a superabundance of dietary fiber and vitamins from many other sources. Having fat helps the body absorb these vitamins. I would incorporate both oils and the "whole" food into one's diet.
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