Let’s cut to the chase:
- Add 4 cups of dark leafy greens each day. Try adding a cup of kale to your morning smoothie. Have a large 3 cup salad at dinner every night with red leaf lettuce, spinach, and romaine. Probably the number one best addition you can make to your diet. Dark leafy greens will provide you with more nutrition than almost any food out there. They are a rich source of minerals (including iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium) and vitamins, including vitamins K, C, E, and many of the B vitamins. They also provide a variety of phytonutrients including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which protect our cells from damage and our eyes from age-related problems, among many other effects. Dark green leaves even contain small amounts of Omega-3 fats.
- Add 2 cups of berries each day. Add a cup to your morning smoothie. Cut up some strawberries for a snack along side some almonds. Add a ½ cup to you your salad in the evening. Berries are well known for their antioxidant properties. Berries will help your body’s immune system stay strong and fight off cancer.
- Eat at consistent meal times. Make sure you are eating breakfast, lunch dinner at about the same times every day. Be sure to include snacks to make sure you do not go longer than 4 hours without eating. Keeping your blood sugar stable will keep you happy, and prevent bad food choices.
- Add 2 tablespoons of ground flax seeds or chia seeds each day. These little guys are going to give you your omega three fatty acids. Omega three fatty acids are shown to fight inflammation. Both flax seeds and chia seeds are high in fiber. Flax is high in magnesium, b-vitamins, manganese, and phytochemicals. Chia seeds are also a good source of manganese, which is good for your bones and helps your body use other essential nutrients like biotin and thiamin. Chia seeds are also a very good source of calcium.
- Add a small serving of dried seaweed such as nori, wakame, kelp or dulse everyday. Seaweed’s best-known benefit is that it is an extraordinary source of a nutrient missing in almost every other food: iodine. Consuming healthy levels of iodine is critically to maintaining a healthy thyroid, a gland in your neck which helps produce and regulate hormones.
- Add a serving of fermented foods such as sauerkraut or kombucha everyday. Fermented foods are foods that have been through a process of lactofermentation in which natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch in the food creating lactic acid. This process preserves the food, and creates beneficial enzymes, b-vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and various strains of natural probiotics.
- Use unsulfured blackstrap molasses instead of refined sugar. Blackstrap molasses has a moderate glycemic index. This means the glucose and carbohydrates are metabolized slowly, demanding less insulin production and stabilizing blood sugar. It is rich in iron, magnesium, and calcium. One tablespoon of Organic Molasses contains 20% of the daily recommended daily intake for calcium, 22.5% of the daily recommended daily intake for magnesium and almost 40% of the recommended daily intake for iron. Along with seaweed, I believe it is one of the many ignored superfoods.
- Use avocado instead of butter. Avocados are an excellent source of potassium (containing more per weight than bananas). In addition, avocados are rich in vitamin K, Vitamin B9, vitamin B6, vitamin B5 vitamin C, and vitamin E. They contain mostly monounsaturated fats as opposed to saturated fat in butter. Monounsaturated fat is considered to be a “good fat” which reduces levels of bad cholesterol in your blood and lowers your risk of stroke and heart disease. Avocados also contain a significant amount of fiber.
- Add 1 cup of cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy and brussels sprouts in every day. Research on cruciferous vegetables has skyrocketed over the past three to seven years, many people are not familiar with the latest science on this age-old group of vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables are rich in nutrients, including several carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin); vitamins C, E, and K; folate; and minerals. They also are a good fiber source. In addition, cruciferous vegetables contain a group of substances known as glucosinolates, which are sulfur-containing chemicals. Glucosinolates are one of the many ways to stop cancer cell growth.
- Add a cup of beans or lentils everyday. Beans and lentils are low in fat calories and sodium but high in complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber, and they offer modest amounts of essential fatty acids. They are also an excellent source of protein.
- Cut back on animal products to 20 percent or less. This includes dairy. Plant based foods are more alkaline and more healing for the body. Eating 80% alkaline, and less than 20% acid forming foods is a general rule of thumb that I advise. The acid state that animal protein causes, forces the body to seek to return to an alkaline state through demineralization of the bones and the cells. When we consume animal protein, the body increases its production of a hormone called IGF-1(insulin-like growth factor 1). IGF-1 has been shown to promote the growth, proliferation and spread of cancer cells, increase inflammation, increase oxidative stress, decrease insulin sensitivity and a shorter lifespan. Also, Animal protein has very little to offer nutritionally- being devoid of fiber and low in essential vitamins and minerals.
- Eat organically as much as possible. You already knew this one though. Colleen Poling, RD, LD