You may have come across numerous articles on recommended foods in your quest to improve your health. Articles like “10 Healthy Foods” or “7 Super Foods” or “The 12 Healthiest Foods.” These articles all include similar recommendations - great food tips along with nutrition information - but they leave out a few important details.
It is widely thought that eating more fruits and vegetables will improve health. This is true, but the WHEN is very important: they should not be eaten together! Fruits, for example, should not generally be eaten with meals, but on their own. Remember your Food Combining Meals should include a lot of vegetables, but no fruit. Fruit should be eaten separately for optimum digestion.
I suspect that many people trying to get healthy suffer difficulty in losing weight, indigestion, or other digestive discomforts, simply because they don’t know this important detail!
The most written about health foods are:
Red Beans and other beans
Truly healthy foods are not so readily available.
Genetic engineering, pesticide use, chemical fertilizers, irradiation, chemical pasturization are now in common use. This and further processing will not “protect” the food supply, will not make food “safe.” Large scale distribution doesn’t help. We consumers must make an effort to get clean simple food. We are conditioned to think that preservatives are necessary to keep food fresh–but why shouldn’t food be truly fresh instead of processed, chemical fresh? We need simpler, cleaner, more responsible practices. See Info on this topic at http://www.organicconsumers.org
Don’t get overwhelmed, just start with simple information and simple action.
For all of the recommendations below, it is important to try to get organic produce - if you are trying to eat a healthier diet, you do not need pesticides, genetically altered foods, chemicals from fertilizers or pasturization, or irradiated foods. If you are looking for the vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and healing actions of these foods, you do not want their quality degraded. There are some local references for organics I included in my previous article, Alternatives to Shopping at Whole Foods.
If you get discouraged because your produce goes bad in the fridge, take a look at some tips I included in What’s In Store.
This first group of recommended foods are fruits. Watch when you eat them: Eat fruit 45 minutes before or 3 hours after a meal.
Apples are an excellent source of pectin, a soluble fiber that can lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Fresh apples are also good sources of vitamin C - an antioxidant that protects your body’s cells from damage. Vitamin C also helps form the connective tissue collagen, keeps your capillaries and blood vessels healthy, and aids in the absorption of iron and folate.
Blueberries are a rich source of plant compounds (phytonutrients). As with cranberries, phytonutrients in blueberries may help prevent urinary tract infections. They may also improve short-term memory and promote healthy aging. Blueberries are also a low-calorie source of fiber and vitamin C - 1 cup of fresh blueberries has 83 calories, 3.5 grams of fiber and 14 mg of vitamin C.
Guava contains lycopene - an antioxidant said to fight prostate cancer. Guava contains a high concentration of potassium (more than bananas) and fiber. Said to be beneficial for high blood pressure, poor circulation, congestion of the lungs, acidosis, asthma.
I have included the reasons the foods below are considered healthy. The important thing to remember is not just to add these foods to your diet. Check Food Combining practices for the foods below. Plan menus before you go to the store. Stick to organics as much as possible.
Pumpkin seeds provide magnesium, a critical mineral in the diet, as well as omega 3 and 6, essential fats needed for hormone balance, brain function and skin health.
Almonds are a great choice, packed with nutrients - fiber, riboflavin, vitamin E (great for your skin!) magnesium, iron and calcium. More calcium, in fact, than any other nut - 70 mg in about 23 almonds.
Like all nuts, almonds provide one of the best plant sources of protein, and you needn’t worry so much about the fat: Most of the fat in almonds is monounsaturated fat - a healthier type of fat that may help lower blood cholesterol levels. They’re good for your heart, too!
What the articles on healthy foods leave out is the fact that raw nuts have vastly better health properties than roasted. Roasted nuts lose all kinds of nutrients and enzymes and the structure of the fats/fatty acids is changed. Often low quality oils and even unhealthful oils (ie cottonseed oil) are added in the process of roasting. Try to get fresh nuts - if they smell or taste stale, they probably are. Organic almonds, additionally, have more nutrients than and lack the harmful pesticides of their standard counterparts. Organic almonds have not been linked to food poisoning. If you soak a cup of almonds overnight, helpful enzymes are released. Have some soaked almonds with your helping of almonds and they will digest better. Protect your food source: almonds grown in California are being pasteurized (in this case pasteurization means they are being sprayed with a known carcinogen) but not labeled: we are being deprived of real raw almonds! The reason for this has to do with food poisoning from non-organic almonds and commercial farming. Support real food, simple organic responsible farming. If farming is done right, these problems never happen: more info and who to write at www.cornucopia.org/almonds
For the time being, ask at your market if the almonds they sell are pasteurized. If produce management doesn’t know, tell them to find out. These kinds of questions and concerns are what change the way things are done. Go to farmers’ markets and ask the farmers about their almonds. You can find real raw almonds at some farmers’ markets.
Red beans - including small red beans and dark red kidney beans - are good sources of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper and thiamin. They’re also an excellent low-fat, low-calorie source of protein and dietary fiber. Red beans also contain phytonutrients that may help prevent chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease. Red and other beans are loaded with protease inhibitors - compounds that make it hard for cancer cells to invade adjacent tissue.
Grains and legumes should always be soaked prior to cooking. This makes them more digestible and considerably more nutritious, and also reduces cooking time. Soaking reduces the levels of phytic acid and other ‘anti-nutrients’, which prevent the absorption of certain minerals from food, including calcium, iron and zinc. It’s present in whole grains, nuts and dried beans. All of these things should be soaked.
“I recommend soaking the grains overnight the day before you cook them, then pouring off the water and rinsing them the next morning.” (from: students.washington.edu/guyenet/Cooking%20Basics.html)
The antioxidant Beta Carotene is what gives sweet potatoes their deep orange-yellow color. Beta Carotene from food sources converts to vitamin A in your body, and may help slow the aging process and reduce the risk of some cancers. Sweet potatoes are also excellent sources of vitamins B-6, C and E, potassium, folate, and fiber. Like all vegetables, they’re and relatively low in calories - one small sweet potato has just 54 calories - and no worries about fat. Again, review food combining to achieve the best digestion of your foods.
Spinach is often recommended, but I shy away from this green. Though it is high in vitamins A and C and folate, a good source of riboflavin, vitamin B-6, calcium, iron and magnesium, it is also high (almost 50 times higher than other greens) in oxalates. Oxalates bind with calcium and restrict calcium absorption.
I am partial to Kale.
See my Kale Salad recipe for ideas. (Remember that kale can be bitter in some seasons, and in those seasons is better cooked.) Other great sources of similar nutrition are cabbage, collard greens, bok choy, escarole…
Kale This big, cumbersome bunch of curly-edged leaves is bursting with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, but many people avoid it. Give kale a chance and it will repay you with its sweet, cabbage flavour and interesting texture; it stays quite crunchy, no matter how long you cook it. Nutrition: Kale is one of the most nutritious greens you can find. It is packed with vitamins A and C plus calcium and beta-carotene.
Leeks provide fiber, folic acid, calcium, potassium, and vitamin C. Leeks are easier to digest than onions.
Cabbage is considered a good source of vitamin C, fiber, potassium, is low in calories, low in fat, and a reputation for reducing cancer risks. Savoy cabbage and bok choy also provide beta-carotene and calcium.
Broccoli, besides being a good source of calcium, potassium, folate and fiber, contains phytonutrients - a group of compounds that may help prevent chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. Broccoli is also a good source of vitamins A and C - antioxidants that protect your body’s cells from damage.
Try my veggie love method to make your broccoli a yummy addition to the table.
Omega-3 fatty acids are abundant in salmon - Omega - 3 is a type of fat that makes your blood less likely to form clots that may cause heart attacks. Omega-3s may also reduce the risk of stroke, decrease triglyceride levels, decrease the growth of artery-clogging plaques, lower blood pressure.
In addition to being an excellent source of omega-3s, salmon is low in saturated fat and cholesterol and is a great source of protein.
Important detail: Does any salmon fit the bill for a healthy diet? The answer is a firm “No.”
Farmed fish are known to have heavy chemical residues and dyes. Stick to wild caught salmon.
Read a very informative article at willtaft.com/environment/salmon-color-added/
More info at these sites as well:
In the wild: www.ewg.org/node/18586
Vegetable juice is recommended in a couple of articles on healthy foods. I would only recommend freshly squeezed vegetable juice: Green juices like kale, parsley, celery, cucumber are a great way to pack yourself with nutrients. The canned variety is too processed, in my opinion, to have any real benefits. If you don’t believe me, have a commercial canned vegetable juice one day and a fresh squeezed one the next day and pay attention to how you feel afterwards - take note about 20 minutes later, 40 minutes later. Fresh vegetable juice, unlike the canned, causes an alkaline environment - an alkaline diet is considered the most healthy and the best for avoiding disease.
It is said that cooked carrots and cooked tomatoes make the beta-carotine and Lycopene more bio-available. But carrot juice has more concentrated beta-carotene in a more concentrated form than eating cooked carrots. If you are going to cook them, I would recommend cooking fresh carrots and tomatoes rather than trying to get what you need from a can - there is just too much going on between the garden and your plate!
http://www.ezhealthydiet.com/v8-juice.html processed foods, juices
Some articles recommend wheat germ.
At the center of a grain of wheat is the wheat germ - the part of the seed that’s responsible for the development and growth of the new plant sprout. Though only a small part of the wheat seed, the germ is a highly concentrated source of nutrients, including niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin E, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, iron and zinc. The germ also contains protein, fiber and some fat.
I don’t eat wheat germ because I am allergic to wheat/gluten. I did a little research on wheat and gluten allergies and found a Pandora’s box of information, so I’ll have to save that subject for a blog all on its own. For now, I looked for alternative sources for the nutrients mentioned above and found that brown rice is a great source. Add some wild rice and you’ll get more vitamin E and folate, and a nice nutty flavor too.
Remember that grains should be soaked for 8 hours before being cooked. (Soaking overnight works well, or in the morning before leaving for work.)
Moral of the story? If you want to eat well, get out there and protect your food supply. Protect organic sustainable agriculture.
Tags: alternative health, diet, health, Health Tips, healthy diet, Healthy Foods, nutrition, preventative
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