Friday, October 28, 2011

The Top 15 Foods To Always Keep In Stock

Eating healthy used to be completely normal and very easy for human beings.  While evolving, the right foods were readily available and there was no such thing as junk food.  My, how things have changed!  The norm now is to eat unhealthy.  Everywhere we go: restaurants, ball games, the movies, coffee shops, airports, rest stops, etc, there are tons of unhealthy food choices and very few healthy ones.

Your home has to become your oasis for healthy eating.  A huge part of this is doing your own grocery shopping and cooking your meals the majority of the time.  Therefore, I thought I’d use this blog post to list out the Top 15 food items to always keep in your pantry/refrigerator.  If you have these tried and true, nutrient packed foods ready to go, you are never more than a few minutes away from a healthy, blood sugar stabilizing meal.

#1) Vegetables: Variety is the key here, and the more the merrier.  Include salad vegetables, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach; you get the idea.

#2) Fruits: Again, variety is the key.  Make sure to get a bunch of fruits that travel well, such as apples and pears.  You can throw these in a backpack or purse and they are always ready for you no matter what your day brings.

#3) Nuts: An excellent source of healthy fat that travels well.

#4) Nut Butters: We’re all familiar with peanut butter, but you can also find almond butter, cashew butter, macadamia nut butter and pistachio butter.   They are all really good.

#5) Olive Oil: Great for salads and to sauté vegetables.

#6) Old Fashioned Slow Cooked Oatmeal: A nice, lower glycemic whole grain packed with fiber.  Don’t get instant or quick cooking as these are higher glyemic.  Focus on the “Old Fashioned” slow cooking variety.

#7) Black Beans: Great in a salad, taco or even on their own.  A great source of low glycemic carb and vegetable protein loaded with fiber, vitamins and minerals.

#8) Quinoa: An awesome whole grain that is high in fiber and protein.  This is relatively new here in America but can be found in most grocery stores.  We cook ours in low sodium chicken broth and it’s a great dinner side dish.

#9) Tuna Pouches: These are relatively new.  They are tuna fish in a pouch that you can tear open and eat without having to drain or open with a can opener.  Highly portable, these are great on the road or even on a plane.

#10) Chicken Breast: Buy in bulk at Costco or BJ’s and keep in your freezer.  When combined with the George Foreman Grill, you’ve got a beautifully grilled chicken breast in about 6 minutes.

#11) Eggs: An excellent source of fat and protein.  They take about 2 minutes to prepare when cooking or even less if you hard boil them before hand and have them ready to go.

#12) Olivio or Smart Balance:  These are butter substitutes made from olive and canola oil.  Use any time you’d use butter.  They taste really good and are so much better for you than butter.

#13) Brown Rice: A great lower glyemic whole grain that is loaded with fiber.  Make sure you get the slow cooked variety and not instant or quick cooking as these are higher glycemic.

#14) Sliced Turkey Breast: A low fat, convenient source of protein.  Try to get it freshly sliced off a bird and not the pre-packaged variety that is filled with nitrates and other preservatives.

#15) Frozen Shrimp: A delicious source of protein that is surprisingly reasonable when bought frozen in bulk at Costco’s or BJ’s.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Research Update: Are Organic Foods Healthier For You?

Nutrition Related Health Effects Of Organic Foods: A Systematic Review
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2010; 92:203-10.

Objective: To conduct an exhaustive review of the current literature on the subject of organically grown food and health.

Methods:  This article is a review paper.  The literature was extensively searched for any research on the affects of organic foods on health.  The authors initially identified 98,727 articles, but surprisingly, only 12 articles met their inclusion criterion.  The studies included hypothesized that organically grown foods would have a positive impact on health when compared to conventionally grown food.

Results:  The studies looked at a variety of outcomes, including antioxidant content, LDL oxidation, phenol content, effects on serum glucose and triglycerides, immune function, flavinoid content and antioxidant capability.  The authors concluded that evidence was lacking for any nutrition related health effects of organically grown food.   All they mentioned was a significantly reduced risk of eczema in infants fed organic milk when compared to infants drinking regular milk.  The authors also cited a recent systematic review of the past 50 years that showed that organically and conventionally grown foods are highly comparable in their nutrient content.

Discussion:  This study may be a bit surprising to many and certainly a bit controversial.  In general, organic produce and meats are much more expensive than conventionally grown.  Most buyers of organically produced foods spend this extra money for one of 2 reasons:

1) They think that there are more nutrients in organic foods.
2) They think that organic food will have a more positive impact on their health than conventionally grown food.

According to the research, neither appears to be true.  Furthermore, this is not the first time I’ve seen this in the literature.

Take Home Message: If you like to buy organic produce and meats and can easily afford to do so, by all means continue.  Some people feel that organic foods are “greener” for the environment and that animals that are organically raised are treated more humanely.  This very well may be true.  However, if you are buying organic produce because you think it is more nutritious or will result in improved health, there is very little evidence up to this point in time that this is true.