With so many different health products, superfoods, and diets all vying for your attention these days, how do you know what you should really be eating?
In The 10 Things You Need to Eat, New York Times health columnist Anahad O’Connor and veteran Food Network chef Dave Lieberman team up to cut through all the claims and studies and identify ten simple foods with undeniable health benefits that you can find in any grocery store.
I am extremely inspired by this book and challenge myself to eat at least 7 of the 10 every day. I always have the 10 things stocked in my fridge and pantry, and elaborate with new ideas on how to incorporate them in my healthy lifestyle. Here’s an idea of what this book is all about, a go to list if you will. I highly recommend investing a few dollars (or crowns, or euros) and adding this amazing book to your library. It’s not only full of nutrition tips, recipes and facts, it’s also hilarious at times and have many interesting stories about food and their origins.
10 THINGS YOU NEED TO EAT
Written by Anahad O’Connor and Dave Lieberman
The tomato fruit (yes, a fruit, not a vegetable) has so many remarkable nutrients and is proven to prevent heart disease, cardiovascular disease and some cancers.
The amazing thing about tomatoes is that unlike most fruits and vegetables, they practically beg to be cooked, because cooking only enhances their nutritional content. Even better, mixing in a little healthy fat like olive oil further increases your body’s ability to absorb those nutrients, because the nutrients are fat-soluble.
One of nature’s most abundant and perhaps surprising sources of monounsaturated gold is a food that plays almost no role in the average person’s diet: avocados. Ounce for ounce, avocados have more fat than virtually any other fruit, which is why most people typically avoid them except for an occasional guacamole. Avocados maybe be high in fat, but the bulk of it is monounsaturated, and like all plant foods they contain no cholesterol. In fact, with their extremely high levels of fiber – about 30 percent of the recommended daily amount in a single cup, the most of any fruit – the actually work to lower your cholesterol.
Monounsaturated fat lowers bad cholesterol, raises the good kind, reduces inflammation, and prevents heart disease. Compared with the artery-gumming effects of saturated fat, it acts like arterial drain cleaner, keeping blood vessels clear and reducing harmful deposits. That’s the kind of fat anyone could love.
Then there’s potassium, the blood-pressure-reducing mineral that bananas and famous for. Bananas are a wonderful food, but avocados contain about 60 percent more potassium.
If there’s one food in the world that could claim the distinction of being nature’s multivitamin, the beet might very well be it. Ounce for ounce, the beet, or Beta vulgaris as it is know scientifically, boasts what may be a heftier range of nutrients – folate, potassium, iron, fiber, antioxidants, and even a little protein – than virtually any other fruit or vegetable on the planet.
On an all-star lineup of healthy foods, spinach would easily be the MVP. This is a food that is not only nutritionally outstanding but one so powerful it has been celebrated across cultures for thousands of years.
Spinach contains plenty of iron, but it’s not the kind that is easily absorbed, unless it happens to be paired with other foods that contains vitamin C.
The real beauty of spinach is not what it builds but what it destroys. Spinach is overflowing with a lineup of compounds that have funny names – and that all have one very serious thing in common: they are kryptonite to cancer cells.
Mother Nature has crammed calcium, potassium, vitamin K, vitamin A, folate, omega-3s, and a slew of other nutrients into these crisp green leaves. Compounds of spinach have been shown in studies to have remarkably protective effect on the brain, keeping at bay the normal cognitive and motor declines that comes with aging.
Try not to keep your spinach sitting around in the fridge too long. If you can’t avoid storage time, simply opt for the frozen variety, which retains more of it’s nutrients.
Rule: never boil spinach, boiling strips away many water-soluble vitamins – and these dark, leafy greens are loaded with them.
Across the massive planet of ours, in countries on every continent except Antartica, thousand of varieties of grains sprout from millions of acres of farmland. But what if you needed to survive on one, and only one, of these grains for the rest of your life? Which one would you choose to give your body nearly everything it needs to function? Would it be possible to find a grain so full of protein and fiber and minerals and healthy fats that you could make it a routine part of your diet and virtually forgo all other food? It’s a daunting thought.
Although technically a seed, quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) functions like a grain and is used as one. To the Incas, it was sacred. They called it chisaya mama, for “mother of all grains.” Myriad studies confirm it: quinoa is easily one of the world’s healthiest foods. Quinoa is extremely high in protein – up there with meat and dairy products – which by itself is very unusual for a food that comes from plants. It contains more protein and fewer carbs than wheat, rye, rice, or oats. Think about it this way: One cup of quinoa is packed with about as much protein as four eggs.
But protein is only the beginning of quinoa’s nutritional story. Ouinoa has a mineral content that blows barley, wheat, and other grains out of the water. One cup has more than half your daily requirements of iron, manganese, and magnesium (among other minerals). It’s low in calories, and it’s low in fat – and the fact that it does contain the monounsaturated kind, which is good for your ticker anyway. Then, of course, there’s quinoa’s fiber content, which is off the charts. A single cup of uncooked quinoa contains about 12 grams of fiber, triple what you’d find in a lot of other grains.
These earthy legumes may seem tiny and meager, but the lentil is no ordinary bean. Each is a model of nutritional efficiency. Lentils are one of the highest-fiber foods on the planet, but aren’t just your run-of-the-mill fiber containing food: they’re a double-barreled source. They are packed with soluble fiber, the kind of fiber that helps manage blood sugar and that lowers your cholesterol by forming a gel-like substance that seeks out the bad kind of cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and removes it from the body.
Lentils also boast with insoluble fiber, better known as nature’s scrub brush. Insoluble fiber passes through the body undigested, promoting regularity as it journeys through your system, speeding the movement of potentially toxic substances along the way, which may lower the risk of colon cancer and other diseases.
One more practical level, the fiber in lentils keeps you full. Besides being loaded with fiber and a slew of minerals and vitamins – from folate to potassium and B vitamins – lentils are chock-full of two other nutritional jewels: protein and iron.
There are dozens of varieties of lentils, and each one has its own unique flavor, appearance, and cooking nuances. In general, the darker the lentil, the stronger the taste and the better able it is to stand up to the cooking process. Light colored lentils, like red, yellow, and green, are mild in flavor and start to break down into a mushy consistency after just 20 minutes or so of cooking. French lentils, brown lentils, however, will hold their shape and their flavor for nearly twice as long as that, but they aren’t nearly as creamy in texture.
Can a single food change you life?
Eating cabbage does appear to be a surefire way to help safeguard your health; that much is clear. To anyone familiar with the history of cabbage, this may come as little surprise: the vegetable has been prized for its medicinal properties for thousand of years.
Cabbage and it’s relative kale, are parts of a genus of plants known as cruciferous vegetables. The more colloquial name for this genus is simply “the cabbage family,” and the family includes the likes of brussel sprouts, collard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, mustard greens, turnips, napa cabbage, and even arugula. Cabbage has long been promoted as a cure for everything from digestive problems to hangovers and liver disease. Scientists have also found a decreased risk of breast, prostate, and lung cancer in high consumers of cabbage.
Then there’s cabbage’s vitamin K content, which protects the joints and significantly lowers the risk of osteroarthritis. Add to that the fact that those deceptively lean leaves are chock-full of vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, fiber, folate, and plenty of other nutrients – including even omega-3, which most people associate only with fish. It’s obvious why scientists have jumped on the cabbage bandwagon.
Seafood contains some of the most powerful brain-nourishing compounds known to man. One of them, DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, makes up almost half of the essential fatty acids in the human brain. Which is why people with DHA deficiencies suffer cognitive deterioration and other neurological problems.
Don’t get us wrong. No one is saying that loading up on fish will leave you needing a larger hat size. But eating fish does seem to help the brain run as smoothly as our owner’s manual intended. Plenty of studies show that eating fish at least once a week keeps your mind sharp, lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and slowing the decline of mental faculties as you age.
These fish are healthful, environmental friendly, high in Omega-3s and low in Mercury:
- Pacific Halibut
- Tilapia (U.S.)
- Wild Salmon
- Rainbow Trout
- Mahi Mahi (U.S.)
- Pacific Cod (No Atlantic/No Black)
- Canned Light Tuna
- Yellowtail Snapper
- Farmed Arctic Char
Did you know that a handful of walnuts contains a full day’s worth of omega-3 fatty acids? Or that the same amount of almonds contains more protein than an entire egg and no cholesterol at all?
Nuts like almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, and walnuts are each a powerhouse of all-natural preventative medicine that just might lengthen your life: protein, fiber, heart-strengthening fats, antioxidants, and a slew of awesome vitamins.
There’s no doubt nuts are one of the most important foods you can add to your plate. Truth is that a slew of research shows that people who eat nuts are actually more likely to lose weight than gain it, and are more likely to report feeling satiated after meals. They also experience more improvements in their energy levels and cardiovascular and cognitive profiles. The reason is that nuts make you feel full while also ramping up your body’s ability to burn fat. Each is brimming antioxidants like vitamin E and minerals like magnesium.
Of course, to reap the benefits of these foods, you can’t simply add them on top of a high-calorie, high fat diet and expect them to work wonders. The key is to eat them in place of those other foods.
- One cup of almonds provides you with your full daily dose of magnesium.
- Just ten hazelnuts contain nearly half of the day’s requirements of manganese, a trace mineral that helps protect cells from free radicals.
- Walnuts contain high doses of compounds that fight inflammation.
- Cashews are bursting with bone- and skin-protecting copper.
- Peanuts contain resveratrol, a world famous compound found in red wine that’s believed to give red wine many of its health benefits.
The acai berry’s claim to fame is its enormous level of antioxidants. But researches in Spain and Brazil collected a variety of fruits and measured their antioxidant capacities as part of a 2006 study, and acai berries were topped by none other than strawberries. Blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are right up there as well when it comes to antioxidants – especially blackberries, which one study in 2006 ranked at the top of a list of more than a thousand foods commonly available. For comparison’s sake, a single cup of blueberries has three times the amount of antioxidants as a single Gala apple and about four times the amount of a navel orange. One of the best approaches to good health, researches shows, is to eat a rainbow of fruit and vegetables. That’s because the bright and beautiful colors in the berry family are about more than just aesthetics. The eye-pleasing pigments that give fruits and vegetables their colors are powerful antioxidants, capable of vacuuming away free radicals (many of them by-products of oxygen) that are so hazardous to health.
The best way to consume these four superberries is to view them as the four wheels of a car: Each has its own assortment of antioxidants and nutrients, and a combination of all four creates the best result.
- Strawberries, for example, are a good source of potassium, a mineral that your cells need to help convert carbohydrates into energy. Without enough of this mineral your muscles wouldn’t twitch and your heart wouldn’t tick.
- With blueberries you get a healthy dose of fiber, an abundance of antioxidants, and even a little resveratol, the life-extending compound that revealed red wine as a health food.
- With raspberries there’s vitamin C, the ammunition you need to keep your immune system in shape, shortens colds, and maintain optimal health.
- Then there are blackberries, containing everything from protein to vitamin E and even omega-3 fatty acids.
Eating three or more servings a day of berries also help lower the risk of disease that damage vision.
Buy fresh when berries are in season.
Otherwise, take advantage of the frozen ones.
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Thank you to Dave Lieberman and Anahad O’Connor for writing this fabulous book.
Find 10 THINGS YOU NEED TO EAT at Amazon.com