Where do you start to improve your health through eating better?
I recommend from Jonny Bowden's book, The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth. In this up-to-date and engaging book, Bowden identifies a subset of the 150 healthiest foods as all-star foods.
Here are Bowden’s all-stars, all listed in alphabetic order within each category.
Veggies - beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, dandelion, kale, mushrooms, onions, spinach, Swiss chard, watercress
Fruits – avocados, blueberries, cherries (buy organic), coconut, guava, kiwifruit, raspberries
Grains – oats (thick rolled), quinoa
Legumes – beans (red, kidney, pinto), lentils
Nuts and seeds – almonds, pecans, walnuts
Soy – natto
Dairy – raw, organic milk, yoghurt
Meat – poultry, eggs
Fish and sea foods – sardines, wild Alaska salmon
Specialty foods – bee pollen, green drinks, kimchi, sauerkraut, sea vegetables, sprouts, whey
Oils – coconut, extra-virgin olive oil, flaxseed oil, macadamia nut oil
My wife and I make these all-star foods the foundation of our eating. For breakfast I usually eat an omelet with onions, garlic, and spinach with broccoli on the side. For lunch, I eat a mixture of wheat bran and oat bran, reduced-fat Greek yoghurt, reduced-fat grass-fed milk, microwaved frozen blueberries, and a sprinkle of cinnamon; steamed cabbage, olive oil, and wheat germ; a carrot, hummus, an apple, and an orange. A common dinner in our home features a salad with spinach, Brussels sprouts or broccoli, grated carrot, along with lettuce, cheese, pecan pieces, and tempeh, dressed with extra-virgin olive oil and wine vinegar. From late spring into late fall, my wife and I eat lots of kale, broccoli, Swiss chard, and carrots. We also enjoy tomatoes, summer squash, cucumbers, and basil from our garden. Much of the basil ends up as delectable pesto, much of which we freeze for the winter.
Focusing on these all-star foods provides a stream of real food that’s high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber and low in sugar and refined grains. I’ve been surprised that that eating a salad for dinner (such as the one in the photograph) fills me up and sticks with me. I can eat all I want of these foods and maintain my youthful physique.
You’ll notice what’s not on this list. For example, highly processed, sugar-impregnated food-like materials. Why eat corn flakes for breakfast when you can eat a tastier and more healthful alternative, such as an omelet with a side of veggies? Or a bowl of old-fashioned oatmeal? Or a bowl of home-made granola with whole grains and seeds and minimal sugar?
Bowden doesn’t dwell on foods that don’t do your body any good. For the sake of completeness, I recommend minimizing your consumption of the following.
Trans-fats, which are common in processed and snack foods. Trans-fats are in the process of being phased out in the US.
Refined vegetable oils, such a safflower oil and soybean oil. You eat of lot of these fats in processed foods such as salad dressings. Extra-virgin olive oil is an easy-to-use and healthy alternative.
Added sugar, as in soft drinks, energy drinks, and sports drinks.
Fruit juices. Eating whole fruits is a much better alternative to drinking their juice. Eating a whole fruit slows the rate at which the sugars hit your blood steam and helps minimize blood sugar spikes.
Refined grain, as in flour, most breads and pasta, cookies, cakes. On the other hand, grains have a lot of fiber and most Americans are woefully short on fiber. If you eat grains, I recommend eating literally whole grains that haven’t been turned into flour. Even whole wheat bread, depending on its ingredients, can have a high glycemic index and high glycemic load. For example, the glycemic index of pure glucose (blood sugar) is set at 100. The glycemic index of stoneground whole wheat bread can be nearly as high as white bread. I recommend rolled oats, brown rice, or quinoa rather than whole-grain bread products.
I suggest you check out Jonny Bowden’s web site (www.jonnybowden.com). It has lots of interesting information about nutrition and health.