My theme for this summer is simplicity. My last article was three simple things you can do to improve your health. Today let’s answer a simple question – what should I eat? I’ll keep the answer simple – eat these ten foods (and as a bonus I throw in a few more!) The ten are in no special order. They are all healthy foods that I recommend you eat on a regular basis, unless of course you are allergic. These foods emphasize what lacks in many American diets – vegetables and fruit for vitamins and minerals to fuel our metabolism, and healthy fats that are sources of Omega 3’s and vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Blueberries taste great and are loaded with vitamins and minerals. Blueberries have been found to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. They are low in fructose. From previous articles you know while fruit is healthy, we still need to watch it. “Natural sugar” is still sugar. A healthy target is less than 25 grams of fructose per day. Blueberries freeze well so you can stock up while they are fresh during the summer and use them year round. All berries are great, so include strawberries, raspberries, and cherries in your diet as well.
We all know the old saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” In addition to vitamins and minerals, apples are a great source of pectin which helps to lower cholesterol and regulate blood sugar. When I talk about apples, I mean the whole fruit. Apple juice is mostly sugar, lacking the fiber you get from the whole fruit. Soon will be a great time to get our local apples – fresh and delicious!
Kale is a leafy green vegetable loaded with Vitamin K, calcium, iron, Vitamins A and C, protein, and fiber. It is best steamed or lightly stir fried. Leafy greens should be a staple in your diet. Others to try are Swiss chard, beet greens, mustard greens, collard greens, and spinach.
Quinoa (keen-wah) is a gluten free whole grain (actually a seed) so it is an excellent choice for those who have gluten allergies or are gluten intolerant. It can be made into flour and used in cereals, breads, and pastas. It is loaded with minerals that we need for a healthy metabolism - calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, potassium, manganese, zinc, and iron. And a great source of fiber. Quinoa is unique in the land based plant world as it is the only one that is a complete protein, so it is great for vegetarians and others who are trying to reduce their meat intake.
Almonds are a healthy source of good fat, protein, and dietary fiber. They make an excellent snack (please, just a handful). The main nutrients are phosphorus, Vitamin E, and magnesium. Other nuts for your short list are walnuts and pecans. And men, don’t forget your pumpkin seeds – a great source of zinc for prostate health.
Wild salmon is the way to get our Omega 3 essential fatty acids. Omega 3’s are anti-inflammatory. Salmon is a great source of protein as well. Avoid farm raised or Atlantic salmon. What makes wild salmon healthy and red in color is what it eats in the wild – krill and shrimp that are loaded with antioxidants. Farm raised salmon is not naturally red, a food dye is added. Other good fish sources include sardines, mackerel, eel, and tuna.
Avocado is a fruit, and one of the few fruits that contains fat. It has oleic acid, better known as Omega 9, which lowers blood levels of triglycerides and cholesterol. It also has lutein which is great for eye health. Avocado is a great source of fiber, potassium, folate, Vitamin A, and beta-carotene.
Kefir is one that you may not have heard of. It is a lacto-fermented dairy product. Think of it as drinkable yogurt. Similar to yogurt it contains beneficial bacteria which aid our digestion. Your best bet is to buy plain versions and add your own fruit. If you have a dairy allergy you can use coconut milk or coconut water kefir.
Coconut oil is a healthy saturated fat and the best oil to use when cooking food. It maintains its properties from high heat. Most other oils oxidize from heat and when we eat them they increase inflammation. Coconut oil is a medium chain fatty acid. That means it is metabolizes faster and is used for energy by the body, and not stored as fat. It also contains lauric acid which is anti-bacterial and anti-microbial, and is known to be good for the thyroid gland.
Butter is also a healthy saturated fat, particularly when it is organic and comes from a grass fed cow. It contains the fat soluble vitamins E, K, and D. It also has CLA (conjugated linolenic acid) that helps fight weight gain and butyric acid which is anti-viral and anti-cancer. For those with an allergy to the dairy protein casein, ghee (clarified butter) is an equally healthy option.
Bernard Rosen, PhD is a Nutrition Consultant and Educator. He works with individuals, groups, and at corporations to create individualized nutrition and wellness programs. His office is in Mequon, WI. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, call (262) 389-9907 or go to www.brwellness.com.