I ‘m just back from the American Dietetic Association’s Annual Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo. What a state-of the art event!
I attended one session about inflammation and it’s contribution to heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and other so-called diseases of aging. Inflammation is created by the typical American diet (high in saturated fat, refined sugars, excessive calories). Hence, there’s no secret why the nation is plagued with diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Whole foods (especially whole grains, fruits, and veggies) contain powerful anti-inflammatory compounds, such as phenolics and flavinoids. These compounds are not in vitamin supplements, so you are missing the boat if you think a vitamin pill can compensate for sub-optimal eating! Choosing a “closer to the earth” menu with mostly whole foods and less highly refined products is a wiser investment.
Blueberries and strawberries are just two examples of powerfully health-protective fruits. Their protective effect lasts for about six hours, so eating some colorful fruits and/or veggies at every meal invests in long-term health. If you are concerned about pesticides in fruits, such as strawberries, relax. You’d need to eat 1,500 servings of non-organically grown strawberries in one day to even approach a level of concern!
If good health is your wish, get caught on fish! Yes, you know you should eat more fish to reduce your risk of heart disease—but what if you just don’t like the taste of salmon or strong-tasting fish? What can you do?
Try Barramundi! Barramundi, which means “fish with big scales” in an Australian aboriginal dialect, are a sweet, mild-tasting white fish (similar to cod). Yet, they have the omega-3 content of wild Coho salmon without the “fishy” taste. Unlike other omega-3-rich fish that eat smaller fish, Barramundi have the rare ability to make omega-3's from plants. This means Barramundi are not mercury-laden. Eat as much as you want!
Another selling point is barramundi farms are eco-friendly. They are raised using sustainable aquaculture and have a smaller environmental footprint compared with other fish farms. They were crowned the 2009 “Seafood Champion” for ocean-friendly production practices.
Barramundi are definitely worth seeking out (either fresh or frozen) at Whole Foods, Costco, Legal Seafoods, and likely your local supermarket. A good catch!
(Disclosure: I have NO financial connection to the barramundi business.)
Almondsand all nuts, for that matterare a positive addition to a sports diet according to research presented at this years annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine. For four weeks, elite cyclists enjoyed about 60 almonds a day (~450 calories) prior to meals. They increased their anti-oxidant capacity 43% after a time trial as compared to the group who ate an equal number of calories from cookies. They also improved their time trial distance by 5% compared to the cookie group. The bottom line message is: Food Works!!!
Too often I talk with athletes who are on the see food diet. They see food and they eat it. They pay no attention to the quality of the calories, but just to the pleasure. While eating whatever you want may seem a nice reward for hard workouts, the reality is food has a strong impact on both health and performance. The trick is to find quality foods that you totally enjoy. Almonds, anyone? Better yet, slivered almonds mixed with (dried) fruits (apricots, blueberries, pineapple, etc.) and yogurt for a protein-carb combination that both fuels and builds muscles.