Super foods and nutrition nuggets
Here are some interesting nutrition facts, from recent studies cited on Dr. Michael Greger’s nutritionfacts.org website that didn’t warrant six separate columns:
1. Sweet potatoes are a super food, with lots of antioxidants and micronutrients, including some that have been shown to fight cancer. The more intense the color, the better they are for you. The skin has nutrients too, so you should eat that as well. Sweet potatoes are also relatively inexpensive, and among the foods with the highest nutrient per calorie and nutrient per dollar ratios. The best way to cook them, for retention of nutrients, is boiling. Don’t eat deep fried sweet (or regular) potatoes due to carcinogens that form by this process.
2. Red cabbage is another super food, with very high nutrient per calorie and nutrient per cost ratios.
3. Vegetable sprouts have even more nutrients than mature vegetables. For example, red cabbage sprouts have six times the vitamin C and 69 times the vitamin K of mature cabbage. The problem with sprouts is that they are relatively expensive, and you aren’t apt to eat enough of them to give you the nutrients you need versus, say, a salad. However, on his website, Dr. Greger tells you an easy way to grow your own broccoli sprouts in your house, which makes them inexpensive.
4. Ninety-seven percent of Americans don’t eat the recommended amount of fiber, which is present in all plants but not in animal products (animals have bones to hold them up, plants have fiber). So that’s one of the reasons all health organizations tell people to eat more vegetables, fruit and whole (unprocessed) grains. In addition to visiting the produce aisle in the grocery store, look for whole grain foods that have a total carb to fiber ratio on the food label of 5:1 or less (i.e. 4:1 is even better than 5:1).
5. We should be eating legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas) at least a few times a week, for many reasons including their fiber content. Recent studies have shown that people who ate three or more servings of legumes a week cut their risk of pre-diabetes by 75 percent.
6. It turns out that the French Paradox was bogus. This refers to the question of how the French could eat a relatively high fat diet yet have a low rate of heart disease. Scientists thought maybe the wine provided immunity, or maybe it was the smaller portion sizes in France versus the U.S. However, a recent second look at the situation indicated that the answer is simply that French physicians were under-reporting deaths from heart disease. So, much to the disappointment of wine drinkers, there is no French Paradox. In any setting, people who eat more saturated and trans fat have more heart disease.
Dr. Feinsinger, who retired from Glenwood Medical Associates after 42 years as a family physician, now has a nonprofit Center For Prevention and Treatment of Disease Through Nutrition. He is available for free consultations about heart attack prevention and any other medical concerns. Call 970-379-5718 for an appointment. For questions about his columns, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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