Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Sugar Ain’t So Sweet After All

Another problem with processed foods in that the main ingredient in most of this processed food is a whole lot of sugar. The typical American today consumes seven tablespoons of sugar a day in processed foods, more than half as much as thirty years ago.

Grocery store shelves are crammed with all sorts of foods that contain way too much sugar. Yeah, these foods—such as sugary snacks, refined grains, pizza, canned soup, fruit drinks, canned foods, and sweetened yogurt—might taste better than healthier choices…(no, not might taste better…most actually do).

But are the possible health risks of eating too much sugar really worth that moment of decadence.

For years, nutritional guidelines have focused on saturated fats and cholesterol, but perhaps this has been one huge mistake.

We have found that in order to meet consumer expectations as far as fat content, food companies have added more and more sugar in order to make their foods still taste good. Some of these foods get about 25 percent of their calories from added sugars.

In fact, at least forty percent of the money—more than $1 trillion annually—that we as Americans spend on  healthcare each year are spent treating diseases that are directly related to the overconsumption of sugar. The sugar epidemic in the United States has gotten to the point that the FDA has set an “official” recommendation that we should all be limiting our daily sugar intake to a no more than ten percent of our daily calories.

There are actually many health risks associated with eating too much added sugar. These include…

  • Cancer….Sugar is responsible for an estimated 500,000 cancer cases worldwide each year.
  • Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • Liver Disease
  • Obesity

And remember, just because the ingredient list on any food item that you might be looking at doesn’t actually contain the word “sugar,” there may be tons of sugar in that product anyway.

Food manufacturers like to avoid the taboo word “sugar” by listing ingredients such as…

  • Dextrose
  • Evaporated Cane Sugar
  • Fructose
  • Glucose
  • High-Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Lactose
  • Sucrose
Advertisements
Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Fiber–The How-Nots

So now that we have looked at exactly what fiber is, why we need it, and some of the best sources for getting the fiber that we all need, let’s finish this series of posts by looking at a few ways NOT to try to get the fiber that you need.

 

Taking a fiber supplement

Many people think that taking a fiber supplement is a quick way to reach your recommended fiber amount each day, but this is not the best solution. Sure a supplement can be used to start gettomg the fiber that you need, but fiber supplements will never take the place of real foods.

Fiber supplements come in a variety of forms—including powders you that are dissolved in water or added to food, chewable tablets, and wafers.

More drawbacks to getting your fiber from supplements instead of actual fiber-rich foods include…

  • not getting the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients offered by high-fiber foods….
  • not helping you manage your weight because they don’t offer the same feeling of being full as  high-fiber foods\
  • possible interactaction with certain medications—such as certain antidepressants, cholesterol-lowering medications, and warfarin, as anticoagulation drug

 

Fast Food

Fast food may seem like a cheap and convenient way to eat (and not have to cook), but most fast food meals are packed with calories, sodium, and unhealthy fat with little or no dietary fiber.

Even a seemingly healthy salad from a fast food restaurant is often light on fiber. In fact, iceberg lettuce provides less than one gram of fiber per cup. (Remember always choose the darker greens).

Here is some advice to making a “healthy” fast food run…

  1. Choose a veggie burger if available. Veggie burgers usually contain two or three times more fiber than a beef patty
  2. Choose nuts or salad instead of fries or potato chips.
  3. Choose whole wheat breads or buns
  4. Look for salads that include other vegetables, nuts, and legumes
  5. Select beans as a side dish

 

Processed Foods

Many manufacturers, no, make that most manufacturers are way more interest in profit margin instead of the health of their customers. These food companies try to project a healthier image for their products, even though the foods themselves are actually not healthy at all.

For example, just how healthy to you think that foods marketed as high-fiber alternatives—such as a Kellogg’s To Go Milk Chocolate Breakfast Shake, FiberPlus Antioxidants Chocolatey Peanut Butter Chewy Bar, Fiber One Double Chocolate Cookie or 90 Calorie Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Weight Watchers Chocolate Crème Cake, or a Skinny Cow Chocolate Truffle ice cream bar—really are…especially when compared to clean food alternatives.

Many food items that claim to contain high amounts of fiber—such as Fiber One bars, cereals, instant oatmeal, pasta, and English muffins—actually have added fiber in them that aren’t good fiber sources at all.

The food industry claims that these additives are beneficial for getting the fiber that each of us needs, but these additives will never replace the nutritional value of fiber-rich foods.

And we all know that simply adding one of the following fiber doesn’t exactly turn cookies, brownies, bars, and shakes into beans, bran, berries, and broccoli.

A few of the additives that the Food and Drug Administration is currently studying that are commonly added to processed foods that are available on grocery store shelves include…

  • Bamboo Fiber
  • Calcium Polycarbophil
  • Gum Acacia
  • Inulin
  • Litesse
  • Maltodextrin
  • Methylcellulose
  • Modified Starches
  • Polydextrose
  • Resistant Wheat Starch
  • Retrograded Corn Starch
  • Soluble Corn Fiber
  • Wheat Dextrin
  • Xylooligosaccharides
Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Fiber—The How Else?!

IMG_4473-1

Okay, now we know specifically which fruits and vegetables can help us reach our DV of fiber, but what else can help us reach this daily goal, or the goal of getting seven to ten grams of fiber at each meal.

Let’s take a look…

Legumes

Black Beans...Black beans are a nutrient-dense legume that contain fifteen grams of fiber per cup, as well as other important nutrients—such as protein, thiamine, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, folate, flavonoids, and antioxidants.

Chickpeas...One cup of chickpeas contains 12.5 grams of fiber per ½ cup, (but also 400 calories), as well as other important nutrients such as protein, copper, folate, manganese, omega-6 fatty acids, and omega-3 fatty acids. Chickpeas provide 84 percent of your daily recommended amount of manganese per cup. Manganese is important for helping you have the energy you need each day.

Edamame...Edamame contains four grams of fiber per ½ cup.

Green Peas...One cup of cooked peas contains 8.8 grams of fiber, as well as other important nutrients—such as vitaminC, vitamin K, vitamin B6, thiamine, manganese, folate, vitamin A, protein. Green peas are also packed with powerful antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, and phytonutrients.

Kidney Beans…Kidney beans contain 5.7 grams of fiber per ½ cup. Kidney beans also contain 7.7 grams of protein…(more on protein later)…

Lentils...Lentils contain 15.6 grams of fiber per cup, as well as other key nutrients such as protein, iron, manganese, phosphorous, and folate. If fact, lentils are one of the top 10 high-folate foods. Folate is essential for pregnant women, individuals with liver disease and people on certain medications.

Lima Beans…One cup of lima beans contains 13.2 grams of fiber, as well as other important nutrients—such as copper, manganese, folate, phosphorous, protein, vitamin B2, and vitamin B6. In addition to the outstanding fiber per serving, lima beans offers nearly 25 percent of the daily recommended iron for women.

Navy Beans...Navy beans are by far one of the best sources of fiber—containing over nineteen grams of fiber per cup, which is 34 percent of your daily recommended fiber intake.

Refried Beans…Refried beans contain 4.4 grams of fiber per ½ cup.

Split Peas…Split peas contain sixteen grams—over half of the recommended intake—of fiber per ½ cup, as well as a third of the folate recommended daily, and many other important nutrients as well—such as protein, thiamine, folate, manganese, omega-3 fatty acids, and omega-6 fatty acids…(and, no, split peas are not simply green peas that have been split).

Sugar Snap Peas…Sugar snap peas contain four grams of fiber per cup.

Nuts and Seed

Almonds…One cup of unroasted almonds contain 11.6 grams of fiber, as well as other important nutrients—such as protein, vitamin E, manganese, magnesium, riboflavin, and omega-6 fatty acids. Be sure to choose  almonds that are labeled as raw, natural, or unroasted to get more fiber for your calories.

Flax Seeds…Whole flaxseeds offer up to seven grams of fiber per two tablespoons.m as well as other important nutrients—such as protein, thiamine, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Chia Seed…One ounce of chia seeds contains 10.6 grams of fiber, plus many other important nutrients—such as protein, calcium, phosphorus, manganese, omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids..

Pistachios…One ounce of pistachios contains 2.8 grams of fiber, along with 6 grams of protein.

Walnuts…One cup of walnuts contains 7.8 grams of fiber, as well as other important nutrients—such as protein, manganese, copper, omega-6 fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acids, folate, vitamin B6, and phosphorus. Walnuts have been shown to improve verbal reasoning, memory and mood and are believed to support good neurologic function.

Okay, as a newbie nutritional novice, I didn’t exactly see whole grains on my food pyramid, but who in their right mind would bypass any benefit that could be attained from the one category of food that probably got us in the most trouble in the first place—BREAD and PASTA!!! So…here’s the “whole” story…

Whole Grains

Barley…One cup of Okaybarley contains nine grams of fiber.

Brown Rice…Brown rice contains four grams of fiber per cup.

Bulgur…Bulgur contains four grams of fiber per 1/2 cup.

Cereal—Cereals such as Bran Flakes, Fiber One, and All-Bran can at least six grams of fiber to your diet. When shopping for a good cereal that contains fiber, look for cereals that have at least 6 grams of fiber per serving. For example, Fiber One contains 14 grams of fiber in each 1/2 cup…All-Bran contains 10 grams of fiber per 1/2 cup. One cup of Bran Flakes contains 7 grams…One cup of Shredded Wheat contains six. Finally one cup of cooked oatmeal contains four grams of fiber.

You could also try adding a few tablespoons of unprocessed wheat bran to your favorite cereal. Dry wheat bran contains six grams of fiber per 1/4 cup.

Also try adding crushed bran cereal or unprocessed wheat bran to muffins, cakes, and cookies.

Psyllium Husk...Start adding psyllium husk to gluten-free baked goods, such as breads, pizza dough, and pasta….(more on this later)…

Whole Grain Bread…When shopping for a good cereal that contains fiber, look for cereals that have at least 6 grams of fiber per serving

Whole-Grain Crackers

Whole-Grain Flour-–Start substituting whole-grain flour for half or all of the white flour, since whole-grain flour is heavier than white flour. In yeast breads, use a bit more yeast or let the dough rise longer.

Whole-Wheat Pasta…Whole wheat spaghetti contains four grams of fiber per cup.

*****

 

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Fiber—The How?!

In order to get the fiber that each of us needs, it is important to eat a well-balanced diet that includes delicious whole foods that are naturally rich in fiber—such as fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains and nuts.

 

But before we take a look at what foods provide you with the most fiber, here are two important things to keep in mind…

  1. When starting a high-fiber diet, it is important that increase to the recommended amount of fiber in your diet slowly and gradually in order to give your body time to adapt. If you increase your fiber intake too quickly, you may experience a bloated feeling and abdominal cramps.
  2. It is also important that you drink plenty of water and non-caffeinated beverages, especially if you’re taking fiber supplements instead of getting your fiber through real foods, because supplements contain none of the liquids found in high-fiber foods.

****

Now, let’s talk about food…one of my favorite topics…using the Raw Foods Pyramid as a guide.

IMG_4473-1

 

 

 

 

 

Leafy Greens…The bottom…no, make that the next to the bottom tier, if you count water as a “food”…is leafy greens. A good rule of thumb is to always choose the darkest colored greens because the darker the color, the higher the fiber and overall nutritional content.

  • Broccoli...Not exactly sure if broccoli counts as a leafy green or a vegetable, but one cup of broccoli contains 5.1 grams of fiber….making broccoli one of the highest fiber sources from the vegetable, or leafy green, food group.

 

 

Fruits and Vegetables…The second-to-the-bottom tier is the fruits and vegetables tier. This group is important because most fruits and vegetables are high in fibe

Now let’s take a look at a few of the better sources of fiber from the produce section…

But first a few tips about adding fruits and vegetables to your diet…

  1. As soon as you come back from your farmer’s market, grocery store, or wherever you buy your produce, go ahead and wash and cut the fruits and vegetables that you could eat for snack foods—such as carrots and celery, Keep these available in your fridge so that you always have a healthy snack to nibble on when those midnight hunger attacks happen.
  2. Choose recipes that feature the high-fiber ingredients shown on this list.
  3. Eat a piece of fruit for dessert.
  4. Eating whole fruits and vegetables, as opposed to drinking fruit or vegetable juice, allows you to get more fiber and at the same time get fewer calories. For example, one medium fresh orange contains about 3g of fiber and only 60 calories…An 8-ounce glass of orange juice contains almost no fiber and about 110 calories, while
  5. Keep the peel on. Peeling fruits—such as apples and pears—reduces the amount of fiber, as well as many other nutrients.
  6. Show them off. Make sure to keep your fruits and vegetables at eye level, where you can easily see them and are more likely to reach for them when sweet cravings kick in.
  • Apples…One medium apple, with the peel lefton, contains 4.4 grams of fiber.
  • Asian Pears…One medium Asian pears contains 9.9 grams of fiber…as well as  Vitamin C, vitamin K, omega-6 fatty acids, and potassium.
  • Avocado…One medium avocado contains 10.1 grams fiber per cup…as well as Vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin K, potassium. As we already saw in earlier posts, avocados are also packed with healthy fats that help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. Remember that Florida avocados—the bright green, smooth-skinned variety—have significantly more insoluble fiber than California avocados–the smaller, darker and dimpled variety.
  • Banana…One banana has a little over 3 grams of fiber, as well as a high amount of potassium, an essential nutrient that helps regulate blood pressure.
  • Blackberries…One cup of blackberries contains 7.6 grams of fiber—twice as much as other berries, such as strawberries and blueberries, as well as other important nutrients—such as Vitamin C, vitamin K, omega-6 fatty acids, potassium, magnesium, and manganese.
  • Coconut…One cup of coconut has 7.2 grams of fiber, four to six times the amount of fiber as oat bran—as well as other important nutrients such as manganese, omega-6 fatty acids, folate, and selenium.Coconut flour and coconut oil are two great ways to add healthy natural fiber to your diet. For most baking recipes, you can substitute up to 20 percent coconut flour for other flours.
  • Dried Figs…One-fourth of a cup of dried figs contains 3.7 grams of fiber. Each fig contains nearly one gram of fiber and about 20 calories.
  • Figs…One large fig contains 1.9 grams of fiber, as well as other important nutrients—such as pantothenic acid, potassium, manganese, copper, and vitamin B6. Because  figs have a nearly perfect balance between soluble fiber and insoluble fiber, they are associated with lower blood pressure and protection against macular degeneration, in addition to the benefits of the fiber.
  • Oranges…One medium orange contains 3.1 grams of fiber.
  • Pears…One medium unpeeled pear contains 5.5 grams of fiber.
  • Pomegranate Seeds…The seeds in one half of a pomegranate contain 5.6 grams of fiber.
  • Raspberries…One cup of raspberries contains 8 grams of fiber, the highest amount of any fruit, as well as many other nutrients—such as  Vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, folate, and manganese.

Vegetables

  • Artichokes…One-half of a cup of artichoke hearts contains 4.8 grams of fiber. One medium artichoke contains 10.3 grams of fiber, which is nearly half of the recommend fiber intake for women and a third for men. Artichokes also contain other important nutrients—such as Vitamins A, C, E, B, K; potassium; calcium; magnesium; phosphorous.
  • Brussels Sprouts…One cup of Brussels sprouts contains 4 grams of fiber, as well as many other important nutrients—such as vitamins C, K, B1, B2, B6; folate, and manganese. As well as being one of the better high-fiber foods, Brussels sprouts also contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that support healthy detox and may reduce the risk of some types of cancer.
  • Butternut Squash…One cup of baked butternut squash contains 6.6 grams of fiber.
  • Canned Pumpkin…One half of a cup of canned pumpkin contains 3.6 grams of fiber.
  • Carrots…One cup of carrots contains 3.6 grams of fiber.
  • Okra…One-half of a cup of okay contains 2 grams of fiber, as well as many other important nutrients—such as Vitamins A, C, K; riboflavin, thiamine, niacin, calcium, iron, phosphorous, zinc, and protein.
  • Parsnips…One cup of parsnips, a close relative of the carrot family, contains 7 grams of fiber.
  • Russet Potato…One medium Russet potato that has been baked with the skin still intact contains 4 grams of fiber.
  • Sweet Potato…One medium sweet potato baked with the skin still intact contains 3.8 grams of fiber and only 160 calories.
  • Turnips…One cup of turnips contains 3.1 grams of fiber, as well as other important nutrients—such as Vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Is Cooking A Sin?

So is cooking a sin?

Should I never step foot in my kitchen again and turn on the oven or a stove burner?

Can I turn my kitchen into a sewing room or home office?

 

Probably not…as much as I wish that were true quite often…

But thoughts and opinions as to what should be cooked, and how much it should be cooked for as far as temperature and time, run the gamut from one nutritionist to the next, from one individual to the next.

Typically, raw food advocates will begin to persuade you into their way of thinking through the importance of enzymes.

 

Enough Info on Enzymes…Sorry, but I don’t care to spend the next umpteen thousand hours learning about enzymes, when I barely even know what an enzyme is…So here’s the little bit of information that I have learned at this point.

There are two types of enzymes that are used by the body to break foods down into smaller, more operable nutritional units.

  • First, there are the “endogenous enzymes,” those enzymes produced within the body itself through the pancreas.
  • Next there are the “exogenous enzymes,” found in the foods that we eat.

And it is important that we eat more foods that contain these “exogenous enzymes” so that it is easier for our bodies to fully digest nutrients from our diet, without making them work more than they should in this process.

 

True advocates of the raw foods diet believe that any food heated over about 112 degrees Fahrenheit loses way too many, if not all, of these vital exogenous enzymes and that cooking foods can rob them of almost all nutritional benefits, such as antioxidants and vitamins.

 

However, most nutritionists, and real people, agree that the best diet is one that includes both raw and cooked vegetables.

Sorry I ate enough raw black-eye peas and “butter beans” growing up having to shell them as a little kid, so the idea of eating a single raw legume frightens me while at the same time making me think about the days when our biggest worry in the world was how to get the purple stains off our fingers before going into town the next weekend.

 

So how do you know which ones to cook and which ones not to cook?

When considering whether a specific vegetable should or should not be cooked, it is important to look at both how many nutrients that particular food has to offer and how our bodies are best able to actually absorb these nutrients.

Each specific vegetable has its own “heat labile point,” that specific temperature at which the food begins to lose some of its nutrients during the cooking process. At this temperature, chemical configurations within the food begin to change,  enzymes are lost, and the food becomes less beneficial.

But this temperature varies…so there is no magical temperature that should really be regarded as biblical for all produce.

And different nutrients respond differently to the cooking process in general.

 

Reasons to Keep Cooking

1.Cooking food can help these foods release their nutrients, makes these nutrients easier for the body to absorb, and obviously make them taste a lot better also. For example, certain nutrients—such as the antioxidants lycopene and beta-carotene found in carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes—and certain minerals, such as iron, are better absorbed after they have been heated.

 

2. Cooking foods can make certain vegetables—such as peppers and mushrooms—actually become more nutrient-dense.

 

3.  Cooking foods helps gets rid of the “bad stuff”–-Cooking can destroy certain harmful compounds, bacteria, and pathogens often found in foods, specifically fish, eggs, and meat. For example, goitrogen compounds—which are commonly found in such cruciferous vegetables as kale, broccoli, and cauliflower—can block thyroid function and contribute to hypothyroidism, but these compounds are mostly deactivated by exposure to heat. Another example of a compound that is deactivated by exposure to heat would be the lectins and phytic acid found in grains and legumes. These compounds could eventually prevent your body from absorbing minerals altogether.

 

4.  On the other hand, cooking foods also has the potential to increase the amount of “good stuff” that you get from the foods that you eat. An example of this would be steamed broccoli having more sulforaphanes, a compound in broccoli that fights cancer.

 

5.  Cooking can improve “digestibility,” the total amount of time food remains in our digestive system. The longer a food sits in our digestive tracts, the more likely that the food will begin to ferment in the digestive tract and cause problems such as gas, inflammation, and “leaky gut” syndrome.

 

 

So for this reason, and the fact that I am a true Southern belle from Mississippi who loves cooked black-eyed peas—in fact make that blackeyed peas cooked with fatback and cooked for hours before finally eating them, and cornbread with lots and lots of butter—I refuse to settle down to a strictly raw foods diet…and if I won’t do it myself, I’m not even going to ask the other members of our family how they feel about this issue at all.

However, I probably won’t be cooking my black-eyed peas with fat back for hours at a time any more, especially now that I know that the best way to cook vegetables is by steaming them…because steaming vegetables uses very little water and takes only a short amount of time, meaning that my blackeyed peas may or may not taste nearly as good, but at least they shouldn’t lose very many nutrients at all.

Like I said earlier…

Join Me for This Journey?!

Getting Healthy

Now What?!…Raw Foods Diet

IMG_4473-1

The next series of posts will be what I consider my breakfast posts. However, instead of talking about breakfast and the foods that you would most likely expect me to devote my time to right now, I plan on writing about my feeble attempts to adopt some sort of a “raw food diet.”

Mainly I am doing this so that I won’t have to cook…kinda like the fact that I use huge recyclable cloth bags whenever I go shopping—not to save the environment, but so that I can crame more into each bag and, as a result, make fewer trips from my car into the house…and also so that I don’t have to worry about some high school kid filling bags so full that the $200 worth of groceries that you just bought end up as one huge compost pile in your driveway.

Pursuing a “raw foods diet” involve eating mostly, or only, unprocessed and uncooked foods that are actually “raw.”…go figure.

Some followers of the raw food diet do eat raw fish and meat, raw eggs, sushi, and unpasteurized dairy. But most people who stick to a “raw foods diet” adhere strictly to stick to a strictly vegetarian diet that only includes foods that are organic, uncooked, and unprocessed.

Foods that can be included on a raw foods diet include vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruits, sprouted grains, and beans—none of which can have been heated above a certain temperature, usually somewhere between 104 and 118 degrees.

Being brought up in the Deep South, this should be interesting. Our typical breakfast, when we actually have time to grab something other than a granola bar as we head out the door, typically consist of bacon, big biscuits with lots of gravy, grits with cheese, and  so forth. This should be fun?!