Healthy Foods and Food Myths.

Food Markets

There seems to be relentless stream of articles by food and health writers regarding diet, its effects on the body, and health.

Certain facts are well known by the majority of the population, but still millions lack adequate, or in-depth knowledge of the types of foods that are best for a healthy diet.

The best advice for a healthy diet is to eat red meat once or twice a month and in moderate amounts (100 – 120 gram portions), chicken once or twice a week, and omega3- fatty acid-containing fish, i.e salmon and the like, twice weekly.

Consume vegetables, cereals, oils (primarily olive oil, canola, corn), and fruits daily. Wine, especially red wine, is beneficial (approximately 300 ml. per day) according to all published research.

Among fruits, berries represent and excellent source of natural phytochemicals (plant nutrients) called polyphenols that include flavonoids, antocyanins, and antocyanidins.

Polyphenols give plants their vibrant colours and provide a broad range of health benefits.

Red fruits like pomegranate, strawberries, raspberries, and cranberries contain anthocyanins and lycophene, good for preventing cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

Orange-coloured fruits like apricots and many others contain beta carotine, both of which are beneficial for good blood circulation and vision.

Blue and purple fruits (mangosteen, blackberries, blue berries, prunes, raisins) are rich in anthocyanins and ploy phenols.

It is always a good idea to select ripe berries and those in season. Hothouse produce looks mature, healthy and clean, but lacks typical flavours. Those that come from far away are by necessity picked unripe, often taste acid, and contain less vitamins than those that are fresh and ripe.

Fruits contain many of nature’s most potent antioxidants and phytochemicals. Scientists recommend consuming fruits in adequate quantities (at least five servings) daily to maintain vibrant health.

Environmental toxins, stress and excessive free radical exposure represent daily hazards to our health. Free radicals are reactive compounds that damage cells with which they come into contact. Fresh fruits help minimize damaged cells.

Long-term studies confirm that consuming berries reduce the risk of chronic diseases and act synergistically when consumed along with antioxidants.

In order to preserve vitamins in vegetables, keep heat exposure to as minimum and ideally, steam them. If at all possible, eat most vegetables raw or expose them to heat minimally, yet cooking some (e.g. tomatoes) releases their lycopene, said to prevent prostate cancer.

Raw meat is difficult to masticate and digest cooking meat (always medium rare or less, never well done) renders it easier to digest, and provides adequate amounts of vitamin C.

Inuit never suffer from lack of vitamin C as they consume sufficient amounts of raw meat.

In countries with long winters and short growing seasons, produce tends to be expensive. Preserving when they are in season helps keep costs down.

Settlers in North America preserved produce for centuries by either drying or canning. Native relied mostly on drying, and mainly ate whatever was in season. Here are food myths you should remember. Always eat raw food, yet cooking releases some important and healthy ingredients it contains and renders meat more digestible as stated above.

Many people believe that fatty meat increases cholesterol. Fat in food has little impact on blood cholesterol or otherwise.

With the exception of shrimp, almost all seafood is rich in omega_3 fatty acids, and eggs help maintain a healthy heart.

Another myth is that nuts are fattening, but while half-a-cup of nuts contains 400 calories, they are rich in nutrients. Almonds are rich in vitamin E, magnesium, fibre and protein. 30 grams of almonds contains the equivalent of half-a-cup of broccoli in antioxidants.

Walnuts are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

Scientists claim red wine, particularly pinot noir, contains high amounts of resveratrol that helps keep the heart in good condition. Consume 300 ml) (two glasses) of red wine daily, but never more, as excessive amounts of alcohol has detrimental effects on a number of organs, particularly the liver and brain.

Moderation in food, as in everything else, is paramount to a healthy life style.

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