Today we’re not touching on why sweetened beverages are rotten for you and we’re not ranting against fries, Little Debbies, or that new national favorite, KFC’s Double Down. I’m hopeful you’ve put all that behind you.
Instead, based on some fairly solid research, here are 14 simple, healthful food choices you can make.
I’m increasingly disenchanted with most gluten grains. Even when patients don’t come up positive on the blood test for gluten sensitivity, so many people simply feel better when they reduce or completely eliminate gluten that, for one month, you might consider going gluten-free, detox your system, and then challenge it with a gluten-rich meal, like pasta primavera. If you feel just fine afterward, you’ve got no problem with gluten (though after a month’s abstinence from gluten you might find your waist measurement magically shrinking).
On the other hand, if you have digestive symptoms–bloating, gas, a change in your bowels–the day after your big-gluten pasta dinner (or just feel crummy in general), your body might be telling you something. Click here for an exhaustive list of gluten-containing foods.
1. Move from white rice to brown rice. The white has a higher glycemic index than the brown, which wreaks havoc with blood sugar. By making the switch you’ll also reduce your risk of weight gain and diabetes.
2. Use barley more often as your mealtime starch, replacing potatoes. Studies show that barley lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol. Potatoes are yet another weight-gain, high-glycemic food.
3. Quinoa and buckwheat are tasty non-gluten grains and they’re also good sources of polyphenols, potent antioxidants that may protect you from developing heart disease, cancer, and other chronic illnesses.
4. Drop white-flour products altogether. In the process, most of you will trim an enormous amount of sugar from your diet by saying no to cookies, cakes, and other baked goods. For sandwiches, use rye bread. It has a low glycemic index and by preventing swings in your blood sugar will help you avoid the late afternoon munchies.
Now, onto nuts
5. 300 calories worth of almonds per day won’t cause weight gain, but will reduce heart disease risk and actually block some saturated fats from being absorbed, an interesting study in 2007 showed.
6. Pecans have a sufficient concentration of vitamin E to protect your brain and nervous system from a variety of chronic degenerative conditions.
7. Hazelnuts should be consumed with their skins because of the very high concentration of antioxidants found in the outer covering.
8. Pistachios have good anti-inflammatory properties. So does the spice turmeric (thanks to its circumin), a curry ingredient.
9. Walnuts may reduce heart disease risk and your chances of developing diabetes.
Fruits and veggies
10. Black raspberries show promise in preventing tumors of the entire gastrointestinal tract.
11. Blueberries are high in antioxidants and improve insulin sensitivity, again reducing your risk for developing diabetes.
12. Broccoli and cauliflower reduce risks for both breast and prostate cancer.
13. Tomatoes can help with high blood pressure and, especially when eaten cooked, reduce prostate cancer risk in men.
14. Celery has been shown to keep blood pressure at healthy levels, especially in people diagnosed with borderline high blood pressure.
Go ahead—fill your plate. Now that wasn’t so painful, was it?