Just like our beloved eggs (oh, what a nutritional ball of goodness), nuts are victimized by painful puns: Get Nutty! We’re Nuts about Nuts! You’re Nuts if You Don’t Eat Them!
We don’t do that here. Nuts are a Smart Fuel deserving of some smart words. Here’s why we think nuts are great for your health. Just don’t go…crazy…with the portions. (Whew – that was close!)
- Excellent fats that boost mental clarity, love your liver, and help your heart.
- Protein and fiber
- Selenium. This handy mineral activates an antioxidant called glutathione peroxidase. You don’t have to remember that, just know it’s really, really good at helping fight free radical oxidation in the body. Some studies suggest selenium might even help fight cancer.
- Antioxidant E and vitamin A. Since these are fat-soluble vitamins (meaning they only work with fat), nuts are nature’s perfectly engineered delivery systems.
The best nuts:
- Hazelnuts, filberts, walnuts, almonds
Less-nutritious (but sort of decent) nuts:
- Peanuts (not actually a nut), pine nuts, cashews
About an ounce a day is a reasonable portion size – think one small handful.
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You’re still here? Go eat these foods!
Okay, we cringe a little bit at the word “superfood”. No food wears a cape. Still, there are foods that pack major nutritional punch.
A few of our top picks:
1. Berries, because…
- Blueberries are best, but blackberries, raspberries, cranberries, strawberries and bilberries are all excellent
- They contain antioxidants called anthocyanins
- They fight infections (especially urinary tract infections)
- How much: 1/2 cup whenever you like
2. Fish, because…
- Choose deep-’n-cold-water fish like salmon and red tuna
- Northern Pacific is better than Atlantic (less pollution)
- You can’t get enough Omega-3 fatty acids
- How much: twice a week, or more, plus an Omega supplement
- Remember: Don’t fry or bread it!
3. Dark, Leafy Greens, because…
- Pick spinach, kale, bok choy, chard, dark lettuce
- Greens contain beta-carotene, C, folate, iron, magnesium, carotenoids, phytochemicals, and antioxidants.
- Greens reduce your risk of diabetes because they’re easy on your insulin response mechanism. In other words, they won’t give you a sugar rush, jelly belly, or mood swing.
Look for more heroic foods soon. No spandex tights – we promise.
Technorati Tags: greens, spinach, kale, bok choy, chard, vitamins, antioxidants, phytochemicals, nutrients, magnesium, iron, folate, beta-carotene, omega-3′s, fish, salmon, red tuna, berries, anthocyanins, superfoods
Apples are asking what I think about bread. The short answer: not very much. But this is an ongoing issue worthy of some debate, so let’s get it started:
In general, the best source of carbohydrates is a vegetable, not a grain (unless you are an athlete, in which case, you’re probably just trying to consume as many calories as possible).
Among other things, grains contain lectins, a mild toxin (is there such a thing as a mild toxin?). Technically, grains don’t “want” to be your next meal. They didn’t really evolve to be our food source – we humans exploited them when we figured out how easy they were to grow. Consequently, they’re in everything – especially processed foods – because they’re cheap and can be made into just about anything, from sauces to syrups to candies to side dishes.
It’s not for nothing that our ancestors ate only flesh (meat and fish), nuts, roots, fruits and berries, and grabbed at wild greens for fiber. In fact, there’s a whole dietary movement – sometimes called the Caveman diet, sometimes the Paleo diet – we cautiously subscribe to (I’m uncomfortable with extreme diets, though I also am uncomfortable with how we define “extreme”!) Why? Grains are a relatively new thing for humans, and the evidence increasingly points to the notion that this isn’t a good development. If you’re into learning more, check out our Carbs category.
I recommend that you stick to zero grains a day. On the whole, I stick to vegetables for my carbs – I just don’t really “do” carbs. Vegetables have far more vitamins, fiber and minerals than grain-sourced carbohydrates, and they are much lower in calories, giving you room for protein and vital fat. Vegetables also keep your blood sugar levels at a healthy, low level, so you don’t start pumping your pancreas to death.
Scientists point out that the human body was designed to subsist on a mixture of fresh vegetables, good fats (from nuts, fish, oils, and meats), and protein (from fresh meats, beans, a little dairy, and fish). Add in plenty of water, occasional fruit, and you’re set. On the whole, avoid the processed, unnatural, refined, sugary stuff. Try it for just one week and you’ll notice a big difference – really.
Don’t let the spinach scare stop you from getting copious greens in your diet. I recommend trying out chard in replacement of spinach, regardless of the current health scare.
Chard is actually a member of the spinach family, but it is more substantial and greater in nutritional value than regular spinach. I’m always amazed at how inexpensive chard is, too – even the organic variety. For recipes, you’ll find chard’s texture is better than spinach, too – it doesn’t get stringy or mushy.
Chard packs a lot of nutritional density for bone health, so it’s appropriate given our osteoporosis discussion. Chop it up, throw it in any sauces, risottos or stir fries, and enjoy high levels of vitamin K, A, C, iron, calcium, potassium, manganese and magnesium. Chard is also the most fibrous leaf you can eat. Try it out this weekend.
People like to use eggs in words like eggscellent, eggxactly and eggstatic.
Poor eggs. I recommend using them in your meals instead – and think beyond breakfast on occasion. Eggs are slowly regaining favor after their Humpty-Dumpty fall during the whole cholesterol paranoia of the 1960s, 70s and 80s.
We know that they contain valuable protein, vitamins and minerals: stress-busting selenium, antioxidant E, and eye-healthy lutein among them.
Because I am an egghead (sorry), I’m proud to bring you the latest findings from a study Mark pointed out to the Bees in the Journal of Nutrition. In a study that was randomized (good), controlled (great), and cross-sectional (nice), scientists found that a daily egg gave people’s eyes a boost with lutein and zeaxanthin (an antioxidant from the carotenoid family) and didn’t raise their serum cholesterol. Not that we worry too much about cholesterol anyway. That’s right – we don’t lose sleep over cholesterol! Just one of the many MDA ongoing health debates you might want to check out in the forum.
So scramble, Apples!
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