It’s that time of year again! After two months of gobbling on fried turkey, stuffing your face with buttery dressings, downing rich cream-filled drinks and grazing on sinful sweets, your weight, cholesterol and sugar counts can skyrocket out of control. For 2010, make it your resolution to start off the year right with some healthy, nutritional options that will make you look and feel better (and allow you to indulge occasionally in your favorite treats). Here are some suggestions for foods to consider adding to your diet, as well as some to avoid at all costs.
Best Foods to Add to Your Diet
Dr. Elizabeth McLain, family medicine practitioner, the Regional Medical Center of Acadiana
1. Eat what God put on the planet — eggs, fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, and certain oils, like extra-virgin olive oil. If it is not in those categories, you are not designed to receive it. The main thing is to be mindful of what you put in your body.
Patty Guckeen, owner, Organically Yours
2. For the New Year, you should cut fats and carbs, and increase protein. Tofu or tempeh contains lots of protein.
3. You should also drink lots of water. Take your body weight and divide it by two, and that’s the number of ounces of water that you should be consuming each day.
4. Free-range or organic meats are healthier for you, because the animals from which they come do not eat any foods containing fertilizers or pesticides.
Estelle Benoit, dietitian, Red Lerille’s Health Club
5. If I had one pick of any food for locals to add to their diet in 2010, it would be a source of fatty fish, such as tuna, salmon, or mackerel. Fatty fish is one of the few foods that are naturally high in Vitamin D. Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine vitamin,” because the majority of our daily needs should come from the sun. The current recommendation is 20 to 30 minutes of sunlight two to three times per week on unprotected skin. With the recent concerns for skin cancer and protecting our skin, the majority of us do not leave the house without some form of sun-block on our bodies, whether it be in sunscreen or in our moisturizer. While this is not a bad habit, research does show that many Americans are now becoming severely deficient in this very important vitamin. Vitamin D promotes calcium and phosphorus absorption in bones and teeth to keep them strong and healthy. Natural food sources of vitamin D are slim, but one 3-ounce serving of fatty fish can give you up to 100 percent of your daily needs of vitamin D. And as an added bonus, it is also high in omega-3s, which are great for the brain.
Dr. Robert LeJeune, chiropractor
6. Avoid standard hors d’oeuvres that are loaded with cream, butter and sugar, and substitute with nuts, vegetables and cubed cheese.
7. Substitute Swedish meatballs, which are loaded with bread, butter, and heavy cream, and go with nuts or shrimp cocktail.
8. Instead of traditional pecan pie which has 20 grams of fat and 30 grams of sugar, substitute with apple, sweet potato or pear pies.
Julie McNally, dietitian, City Club at River Ranch
9. Quinoa is the healthiest grain on the planet and has about twice the protein of regular cereal grains, fewer and more slowly digesting carbohydrates, a small dose of healthy fats and unlimited culinary versatility. It’s gluten-free and provides full spectrum nourishment as a complete protein. It cooks up as easily as rice and acts as a nice “stunt-double” in most dishes. One-half cup of cooked quinoa has 100 calories, 2 grams fat, 20 grams carbs, 3 grams fiber, and 4 grams protein.
10. Low-fat goat’s milk is low allergen, more easily digested than cow’s milk, boasts a higher protein content than rice or almond milk and is the natural choice for estrogen-dominant women who shouldn’t overdo unfermented soy. It has a nice “hazelnutty” flavor and, with a little natural chocolate powder mixed in, it’s a nice choice for pre-work-out fuel. One cup of low-fat goat’s milk has 100 calories, 2.5 grams fat, 11 grams carbs, and 8 grams protein.
Rosalind E. Allen, dietitian, nutrition supervisor, Lafayette General Medical Center
11. Almonds are an excellent source of Vitamin E, an antioxidant. Eating nuts several times a week lowers circulating cholesterol levels, particularly the artery-clogging LDL — decreasing your risk for heart disease. But remember, keep your portions down to one ounce per day.
12. Sweet potatoes are not just for the holidays, but should be a staple all year round. A single serving supplies over 250 percent of the daily value for Vitamin A in the form of beta carotene, the powerful antioxidant. Sweet potatoes are a good source of Vitamin C, potassium, iron and the trace minerals copper and manganese. They are also a rich source of fiber.
13. Whole grain pasta contains fiber to fill you up, and B vitamins that are crucial to energy metabolism and disease-fighting compounds. Reach for the pastas that offer whole-grain goodness with heart healthy omega 3 fats and added protein.
14. Everyone needs to eat more leafy green vegetables, such as spinach and kale. They are excellent sources of lutein, which can lower your risk of macular degeneration.
15. Cranberries are the new old fruit, providing 22 percent of your daily value of Vitamin C. They also contain antioxidants that help prevent heart disease and cancer. Blueberries are packed with antioxidants, which studies have shown to fight illnesses such as heart disease and Alzheimer’s.
Jill Hurley, occupational therapist, owner, Healthé Habits for Living
16. Broccoli (and other cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and cabbage) helps fight cancer, especially breast, colon and lung. It boosts the immune system. Broccoli also contains antioxidants and a substance called sulforaphane, which research is showing to be a powerful cancer fighter and preventer.
17. The citrus bioflavonoids in oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit have anti-cancer and antioxidant properties. Many of these citrus bioflavonoids have also been shown to have anti-inflammatory and blood clot inhibiting abilities.
18. Oats also help reduce cholesterol. Research shows that one bowl of oatmeal per day can reduce cholesterol by up to 23 percent. Oats are also considered an excellent grain for diabetics as they have less impact on blood sugar levels than some other grains.
19. Tomatoes contain high levels of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant which helps to protect the cells in our bodies from damage.
20. Turkey is one of the leanest protein foods and is low in calories, making it an excellent healthy food choice. Turkey also contains selenium which has been shown to inhibit cancer development, improve the immune system, and aid in the metabolism of our thyroid hormone.