Today’s topic is pretty broad and general, but it is important to discuss the carbohydrates that I do eat. I don’t recommend not eating any carbs, I say no grains, starches, or sugars. Carbohydrates are the other macronutrients (we’ve already discussed fats and proteins). Fruits and vegetables provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber (all of which are important to protect against chronic diseases like stroke, heart disease, and cancers). They’re pretty as well, just look at the picture (this is Pikes Market, by the way, which I would highly recommend going to if you are ever in the Seattle area). All the color and variation is important though. Eating a variety of fruit and vegetable colors provides a range of nutrients (fiber, folate, potassium, and vitamins A and C). Friday’s Featured Food page we’ll look at a fruit or vegetable for each color and give benefits. Now that we know some of the benefits of fruits and vegetables, let’s look at why we should buy organically grown products. Nowadays produce are hindered with hormones and sprayed with pesticides, and we don’t know the effects of what these will do to our bodies. One thing about organic is that you get the benefits now without having to wait for the results of these additives and the lasting detrimental effects they may have. There are additional reasons to eat organically though.
- They are hormone free. There is one theory that growth hormone in foods could add to current issue of kids growing up faster and hitting puberty at younger ages.
- Pesticide and Herbicide free. These are poisons used to prevent weeds and bugs, however, they can still contain trace amounts in regular fruits and veggies.
- Higher nutrient levels. Organic fruits may appear smaller, but regular fruits and vegetables bigger size is due to water.
- Prenatal benefits.
- No artificial coloring, what you see is what you get when you bite into it.
- Tastes better. Because they are allowed to grow and mature at their own pace they have a “home grown” taste.
- Promotes a healthier water table. Traditional farming methods allow for poisons (pesticide/herbicides) to make their way into our drinking water.
- Higher levels of antioxidants– Organic fruits are usually fresher and from a local source so they contain higher levels of antioxidants (important to protect against chronic diseases like stroke, heart disease and cancer)
- Supports local economy since most stores have to purchase from local farmers.
One other side note is the benefits of plant food in preserving muscle mass. A study at Tufts concluded that potassium-rich plant foods can help older individuals to maintain lean mass. I wouldn’t suggest going hog wild with all fruits and vegetables though. Try to eat more vegetables than fruit because there carb numbers are lower than fruits. Also seek fruits that are lower glycemic (so that you don’t spike insulin levels). Great fruits are cherries, blueberries (check out one of Featured Food blogs), blackberries, strawberries, apples, and grapefruits. Fruits to avoid are tropical fruits like watermelon and pineapple. Vegetables eat in unlimited quantities; vegetables that are thermogenic are best. Thermogenic vegetables include:
- spinach (another Featured Food)
- Brussels sprouts
Fruits and vegetables have numerous health benefits and come in a variety of color. What would I do? Go and make a big colorful salad (spinach, leafy greens, maybe strawberries and blueberries topped with olive oil; skies the limits and the options are limitless) and eat up!