Eat Better – Melanie’s Top 10 Food Choices.

Apr 3, 2015 by | diet

I spend a large part of my time researching, learning, and teaching the benefits of good nutrition. It saddens me to see how the food industry has been taken over by greed, and how, in many cases, poor quality products have taken the place of wholesome food. Health Canada continues to warn of the increasing incidence of obesity and obesity related diseases in this country. It is predicted that if our young people continue on this path of self-destruction, they will be the first generation unlikely to outlive their parents.

There is clear and definitive scientific evidence that a nutrient dense diet plays an important and significant role in reducing the risk of degenerative diseases, and in providing long-term health and longevity. Let's take a look at some of the healthier choices available.

Best protein – FISH. Low in calories and saturated fat, yet high in protein and the good fat – Omega-3 essential fatty acid. Just as their name implies, essential fatty acids (Omega 3, 6 and 9) are essential for human health, but because our body cannot make them, they must be obtained from foods. Wild cold-water fish, like salmon are higher in omega-3 than warm-water fish. Other good sources of omega-3 are mackerel, sardines, herring, flax oil, avocados and walnuts. Omega-fats help to increase the metabolism and strengthen the immune system. Fish is also a great source of selenium, niacin, vitamin B12, phosphorous, magnesium and vitamin B6.Choosing the right kind of food is far more important than the amount you eat.

Studies show that populations that eat fish regularly live longer and have less chronic disease than populations that do not. Symptoms of omega-3 deficiency are: joint pain, fatigue, dry itchy skin, brittle hair and nails, inability to concentrate, frequent colds and infections, eczema, and inflammatory disorders. Studies are now showing a large gap of too little omega 3 to omega 6 is a contributing factor in heart disease due to the inflammatory effect of omega 6 when disproportioned to omega 3.

Best cereal grain –OATMEAL. Oats are a good source of many nutrients including vitamin E, zinc, potassium, selenium, copper, iron, manganese, magnesium and fibre.

Oatmeal's high fibre content makes it a great food for reducing cholesterol, and removing toxins from the body. Study after study has proven the beneficial effects of this special fibre on cholesterol levels. Use the steel cut variety and avoid the more processed large flake and instant oatmeal with sugar and flavour added. To sweeten naturally add some maple syrup and cinnamon (the lather helps with blood sugar balancing, thought to help reduce overall sugar cravings).

Best starchy vegetable – SWEET POTATO. If you're a carb watcher, you already know that this wonderful food is low on the Glycemic Index with a rating of 48. One of the most nutritious vegetables you can eat, with just three-quarters of a cup of baked potato, packing 60% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C and more than 300% of your vitamin A.

Best overall vegetable – CRUCIFEROUS VEGGIES. This includes cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, collard greens, turnips, and kale.

Indole-3-carbinol is most concentrated in these vegetables. Research has shown that I3C helps to breakdown cancer-causing estrogens to non-toxic forms and is linked to the treatment of estrogen-related conditions such as: PMS, endometriosis, breast cancer, poor thyroid function, ovarian cysts, fibrocystic breast disease, infertility, prostate cancer, and other cancers. Animal studies have shown that I3C has the ability to delay the onset of cancer and reduce the size and growth of tumors.

You may have heard that cruciferous vegetables contain goitrogens which can disrupt thyroid function. It is important to note that it would take ten cups of these vegetables each day to have any negative effect on the thyroid gland. The benefits of eating two half-cup servings a day, far outweighs any risks. If you're still unsure, you'll be relieved to know that cooking inactivates any goitrogenic compounds found in food.

Best snack – UNSALTED NUTS. Almonds and walnuts particularly, provide rich sources of vitamin E, minerals, fibre and essential fatty acids. Keep portion size small (1/4 cup) due to high fat content. Choose raw over roasted to avoid rancid oils, which are toxic to the human body.

Best fruit – BLUEBERRIES. Full of cancer fighting antioxidants, plus they're chock full of vitamins A, C, and E, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and fibre with zero fat. Research suggests that increasing dietary intake of fruits and vegetables high in antioxidant activity, particularly blueberries, may help to maximize brain cell function well into old age.

Best dairy product – ORGANIC YOGHURT. Not the fruit and sugar added variety. Choose plain organic yogurt and add your own fruit if you like. The flavoured variety has been marketed as a healthy breakfast food but contains more sugar then an Oh Henry chocolate bar, hardly a health food.

The highest quality yogurt contains live bacteria that provides a host of health benefits. Although I'm not a big fan of dairy, I do believe that good quality yogurt has a place in the diet. The bacteria found in yogurt actually help to inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Staphylococcus. The healthy bacteria found in yogurt help to boost our immune systems, enhance digestion, increase mineral absorption, synthesize certain B-vitamins, reduce incidence of yeast infections, replace the beneficial intestinal flora that can be killed by antibiotics and more and more evidence is indicating that the level of healthy flora in ones intestinal tract can have either a positive or a negative effect on one's body weight.

Best hot beverage – GREEN TEA. Full of antioxidants. Be sure to choose organic because tea is one of the most highly pesticide sprayed products available for human consumption.

The health benefits of green tea have been extensively researched and, as the scientific community's awareness of its potential benefits has increased, so have the number of new studies. Some studies have concluded that green tea drinkers appear to have lower risk for a wide range of diseases, from simple bacterial or viral infections to chronic degenerative conditions including cardiovascular disease, cancer, stroke, periodontal disease, and osteoporosis. It supplies you with a pick me up without the crash so often followed by a coffee based beverage. Most of these studies were based on the consumption of 3 cups per day.

Best fast food – PIZZA. Not a low fat food but one slice does have considerably less calories, fat and sodium than a burger and fries. Choose roasted veggies, and feta, or veggies and lean meats such as chicken, and add a salad on the side.

Best treat – DARK CHOCOLATE

. This decadent treat has the same disease fighting antioxidants found in red wine and tea. Contains iron, magnesium, and potassium. Choosing high quality chocolate containing 60-70% cocoa ensures even more antioxidants. It is interesting to note that many people who crave chocolate are deficient in magnesium. Since chocolate is high in magnesium, this suggests that the body really does crave what it needs. Now you can have your cake and eat it too!