So a friend asked me a nutrition question the other day, and wondered if I would write a post about it. So here is the question:
“What are five foods/nutrients that a person should eat if they are trying to be healthier, feel more balanced, loose weight, have more energy, lower cholesterol…avoid junk food etc.”
Good question. There is a list that was put together by the authors of “Eat This Not That” (which is a guide to eating out at restaurants). I really like their list and have found it to be helpful in balancing my own diet. So here are the “Eight Foods You Should Eat Everyday.”
I have found that the more leafy green vegetables you can eat in a day the better you will feel over all. This last summer I tried to eat a HUGE salad each day (it had to be big to fill me up) and I felt like a rock star… pregnant and all. Spinach in particular is good for building muscle, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke along with tons of other things. Spinach also curbs overeating and maintains low blood sugar. I like Kale a lot too (if you want to use kale in salads chop it up really small and mix with other greens).
My favorite place to put spinach or kale is in a breakfast smoothie. BUT here is the trick to not tasting like you are drinking vegies: I fill the blender about half full of greens, pour coconut milk, a banana, and about 1/4 cup of orange juice concentrate and blend the heck out of it. Then I add whatever fruit I want… but that is the base I always use, the orange juice concentrate banana combo cancel out the veggie taste… and they make it sweet so you don’t need to add any sweetener.
The reason yogurt is great is that it has probiotics (live bacteria cultures). These help your digestive system, boost your immune system and are a great source of calcium and protein. Not all yogurts are created equal. Most yogurts are full of sugar and worse (gasp) High Fructose Corn Syrup. I prefer plain greek yogurt. I actually use it like sour cream on top of beans and rice, or inside of burritos. Then if I want it sweet I might throw in some honey or fresh frutis and nuts.
Lycopene is why you need these ruby reds. It is protective against many forms of cancer and can also help your heart health. Canned or processed are just as good as fresh when it comes to lycopene and in most cases easier for the body to absorb (it has to do with the cooking process done to tomatoes in the canning process). My favorite place for tomatoes is on top of some sort of pasta dish, but I also like an ice cold glass of tomato juice now and again… especially when I fly on an airplane for some reason. In the summer, I eat fresh tomatoes like apples.
Careotinoids are the fat soluble vitamin that carrots and other red, orange and yellow vegetables are packed with. Good for preventing cancers and helping with inflamitory conditions. Plus they are good for your vision and eye health. I have been loving a new butternut sqash soup recipe that my sister in law gave me. It is seriously so simple, just a butternut squash choped and boiled in a pot (water just to cover) Then add a can of coconut milk and salt to taste. Blend it and enjoy. So good. (I did spill a whole pot of it in my car this winter though… not fun to clean off of car seats).
Blueberries have the highest antioxidant content of any fresh fruit, this helps get rid of free radicals which can cause disease, cancer and aging. They have also been shown to help reduce belly fat. This is one of our favorite smoothie additions (you can buy them frozen in bulk at Costco) But a few of Fiona’s favorite snacks just happen to be raisins and prunes. Full of antioxidants which help with memory, cancer prevention, and are rich in fiber.
6. BLACK BEANS
Also good for the brain and the heart. Black beans are high in antioxidants too (as are many dark colored plants). They help to maintin blood sugar levels and have lots of iron and folate making them especially great for pregnant ladies. I LOVE LOVE LOVE black beans. I joke with Chuck that if I were single I would probably just eat beans and rice everyday. I like to add tomatoes, and avacados…. and romaine lettuce (do you see how you can get lots these foods together in one meal!) PLUS… beans are a great source of protein and are low in fat and calories.
Super high in Omega 3’s, protein, and polyphenols (stuff in red wine that makes it “Healthy”). If your going to eat a nut this is the best one, it has more benefits than any other. I just so happen to love them on top of…..
Also good for the heart and keeps blood sugar from spiking like it does when you eat cold cereal because of all the soluble fiber. Quinoa is also really great in place of anything you would use rice.
I just want to point out that this list does not contain any sort of meat or milk. I think in American society we have been so ingrained by the beef and dairy counsils to have milk and meat everyday. While those foods may have health benefits, YOU DO NOT NEED THEM!!! You can get all of the daily protein and calcium you need in a day without them. Plus when you get protein and calcium from vegetable sources you are also getting a ton of viatamins, minerals, and other compounds that are protective to the body. As shown above the compounds that make foods the colors they are have helth benefits.
Here is one idea of how a day could look incorperating all of the foods here is a sample menu:
Bowl of oatmeal with rasins and walnuts
Kale smoothie with blueberries
Black bean and quinoa pilaf (with carrots, zuchinni, and mushrooms)
glass of tomato juice
Fish Tacos with romain lettuce, avacado, tomatoes, topped with greek yogurt
There are really endless combinations. Enjoy your Eight!
I would love more nutrition questions, please contact me if you have any.