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FOOD | Friends Without Bar Codes

Last time I talked about food labels and why it is more important to look at the ingredients than to count calories. Knowing the ingredients helps us learn more about what is in the food we eat. I also mentioned diets, which are like wars on food. Diets are always removing something like fat, sugar, and salt, and adding protein, fortified vitamins, fiber, artificial fat, and/or chemical sweeteners. Picking certain foods and removing others is certainly not the way to better health. These wars on food have done a great job in increasing revenues for many companies that create processed foods, but they have not altered our expanding waistlines or taught us a wholesome way of eating.

The quality of the food we eat is probably way more important for our health than the proportions of fat, carbs, and protein. The long-term solution is not to eat foods that have been stripped from their nutrients or to mutilate healthy organs (surgery) or begin an eating disorder, which is very, very risky and dangerous.[i] Please do not do this.

One of my favorite nutrition experts is Jonny Bowden. He says that, “foods are like friends.” I agree. Foods provide different things. We can have friends that are great for going out partying with but with whom we wouldn’t think of sharing our innermost feelings about our significant other. Some foods provide great vitamins like vitamin C, but no calcium. Others provide tons of good fat, but no protein. No food provides everything. We need them all! Are you with me?

The truth is, there is no perfect, universal diet for humans. People have lived and thrived on high-protein high-fat diets, on low-protein high-carb diets, on diets high on raw milk and cream, and even on diets high in fat and animal blood (the Inuit). And they’ve done so without the ravages of life-threatening diseases that are epidemic today, such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer.

Here is what they haven’t done: thrived on food with bar codes. Nor, for that matter, have they thrived on food we can pick up less than a minute at a drive-through.

In point of fact, the latest National Vital Statistics Reports (NVSS) — a report that presents United States data on mortality rates — five of the ten leading causes of death (all ages) in 2011 were linked to unhealthy diets: heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and kidney disease.[ii]

To make it simpler, I will provide us with a list of whole foods (in season (most likely to be served at Founders if you have a meal plan) we must always have in our kitchens. These foods are not the only ones we should be eating however, (remember, they are like friends!) but they are exceptional in nutritional value and we will never go wrong with them, or eating too much of them for that matter.

Important Note #1: Please do not stock on these foods. Buy or serve yourself what you need for that meal, day, or week. We wouldn’t want them to spoil in the refrigerator and go to waste right?  Compost if you can. Thank You!

Note #2: The upcoming lists of foods are not only great for you because I say they are but also because many professionals recommend them. I will say why.

Broccoli bunches. (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
Broccoli bunches. (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

BROCCOLI (in season)

  • This cute tree-looking veggie is royalty in the nutrition world. It is a great source of anticancer phytochemicals called isothiocyanates, which fight cancer by neutralizing carcinogens— the “bad guys” of the cancer battle. They are great raw, but if you do not like them that way then lightly cook them. Broccoli is an excellent source of vitamin C, potassium, vitamin A, magnesium, iron, and phosphorus. You can eat the stem and leaves too! However, the stems take more time to cook. So, add them to your pot or pan first. Then, halfway through the cooking, add the florets.  Also, 90% of the broccoli is water!  It will last a week in your fridge but you can always freeze it (up to a year). Blanch before freezing![i]
Pineapple slices. (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
Pineapple slices. (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

PINEAPPLE (in season)

  • The awesome thing about pineapple is that it looks and smells healthy. And it is healthy! It is popular in the nutritional world because it contains bromelain (enzyme). Bromelain has tons of health benefits, including digestion, speeding wound healing, and reducing inflammation. Pineapple is a diuretic (makes you go pee) and a natural blood thinner, as it prevents excessive blood platelet stickiness. Also, pineapple’s glycemic load — its impact on your blood sugar — is very low. Oh! Eat it raw — it loses the good enzyme when you cook it. [i]

That is it for today…. I’ll have more foods for you next time. And remember, foods (without bar codes) are like friends.

Stay healthy,

[i] Bowden, Jonny. The 150 healthiest foods on earth: the surprising, unbiased truth about what you should eat and why. Gloucester, Mass.: Fair Winds Press, 2007. Print.

[ii] Hoyert DL, Xu JQ. Deaths: Preliminary data for 2011. National vital statistics reports; vol 61 no 6. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2012.