This is where the magic begins. No matter how you dress them up, the meals you eat are only going to be as good as the quality of food that you use. This goes for taste as well as nutrition and fresher is always better. Do not be fooled however by products that are simply labeled ‘fresh’. Marketers know what consumers ideally desire but unfortunately they are still willing to cut corners to keep their costs down and make a profit.
As a general rule, the more commercial the store is the more likely their available products are lower in quality, be it GMO infused, pesticide ridden or otherwise. Local supermarkets do better to keep up the integrity of their produce, although they charge more for the good organic stuff and their standards do not always meet up to your body’s needs. You are what you eat. Your body is composed of natural processes that are fueled best by pure, natural foods.
These additives slow down and clutter up our bodies’ metabolism and digestion. This is the reason why we are seeing an increase in so many food-related illnesses today like gluten allergies, Celiac Disease, lactose intolerance and so on. These statements are not 100% verified, however with a little research on your own and connecting the dots, it does not take much to put the pieces together.
If commercial or local supermarkets are the absolute and only option for your area without going too far out of your way, you will still do fine. The bottom line here is to shop fresh produce and organic as much as you can without going over your budget, especially including meats and free-range, cage-free eggs.
Health food stores obviously have healthier options although you will usually find that these stores are more expensive. The real prestigious choice that gives you a bang for your buck and zest in your ingredients is shopping at a farmers market. No matter where you live you should be able to find at least one nearby.
Search online for farmer’s markets in your area, ask around from people in health-conscious stores or local forums, or look in the local newspaper ads. They usually happen on the weekends, so the timing will be great for you.
The atmosphere puts you face to face with the local growers from whom you can get as much information as you need to know where your food comes from, what methods they use to grow their food and so on. You will be supporting the local community as well as being assured you are getting the food as fresh as it comes without growing it in your own backyard.
Now that you are a little wiser on sourcing your foods, let’s get into some tips for what to invest in and why. Industrial farming has led to the depletion of nutrients from the soil that these crops are grown in, which means a decrease in nutritional value for your consumption.
Minerals like magnesium, sulfates, iron and potassium, and vitamins like B12, D, and C are hard to come by from the foods that we eat, but it does not have to be that way. These vitamins and minerals are necessary to support a healthy immune system, nervous and muscular system, hormone regulation as well as smooth-functioning digestion involving the actual uptake and absorption of nutrition into the body. That is where we delve into the uplifting realm of the super food kingdom.
Dark, leafy greens are your friends! Kale, spinach leaves, Swiss chard and collard greens to name a few are rich in iron and potassium that are supremely beneficial to the nervous and cardiovascular systems. They help to maintain healthy amounts of oxygen in the blood, act as antioxidants and support strong immune systems as well as many other benefits. Romaine lettuce does not have the same prominent nutritional value as these other greens but it is far healthier than iceberg lettuce. When making salads, stir-fry or smoothies, be sure to incorporate these greens.
Coming from the ground where the nutrients are the densest, root vegetables are a strong food source to help stabilize your system. They reduce the potential of inflammation caused by many carb-loaded foods as well as dairy products. Inflammation is now seen as a leading cause of most illnesses both physical and mental within the body, so reducing the risk of inflammation will help keep you healthy on many levels including the reduction of high blood pressure risk and diabetes 2. Such root vegetables are sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, parsnips, radishes and turnips.
Nuts and seeds are an excellent source of protein and healthy fats for your muscles, skin and blood stream. They make a great snack for when you are on the go and an excellent addition to your breakfast to help start the day off right. You do not need much; one to two ounces per day makes up serving size. Almonds, walnuts, and pecans, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and flax seeds are all healthy options. Flax seeds are a good source of Omega-3 fats that help to reduce cholesterol and high blood pressure. Ground up flax meal is a great alternative to breadcrumbs for use in recipes like meatballs or breaded fish.
Quinoa can easily replace the high-carb rice option to compliment meals, bringing to you plenty of iron, protein, and fiber as well as some calcium. Brown rice is another acceptable low carb option that provides you some complex carb nutrition to keep up your energy levels without converting straight to quick sugars like so many white rice varieties do.
In more health-conscious stores you will be likely to find quinoa versions of pastas so you can still make your favorite dishes like macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, chicken noodle soup and so on.
You may have heard about the rousing benefits of chia seeds, a super food that has quickly become known as one of the healthiest foods in the world. A serving size is one ounce or two tablespoons, which provides a substantial source of fiber, protein, Omega-3 fats, calcium, manganese, sulphur for liver cleansing, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, potassium, and B vitamins (1, 2, and 3). What’s more is that this same serving size has only 137 calories and one gram of carbs. This means they are a great supportive food for helping you lose weight.
Chia seeds are an energy and metabolism booster. They support heart, brain, muscle, skin, bone and dental health and help to fight cancer. Eat them in moderation and drink plenty of water unless you choose to soak them, otherwise you may be left feeling dehydrated due to their super-absorbing power.
Chia seeds and flax seeds are versatile for cooking but in order to get the omega-3 benefits it is necessary to grind them. Soaking the chia seeds before consumption works too. This is the most preferable way to release the beneficial enzymes contained within. Throw some in your smoothie, garnish your salad, or make a pudding out of them.
The soaking instructions for chia seeds are a one to ten ratio, or about one and a half tablespoons of seeds to one cup of water. Let them sit for at least a half hour, up to two hours before consumption.
Go for fish and poultry as a protein source. Certain kinds of fish like wild caught salmon, mackerel, tuna, cod, snapper and even sardines are full of protein and those valuable omega-3 fatty acids that support brain and nerve health. They are significantly easier on the digestive system, especially the lower intestine where a lot of undigested red meats tend to get trapped.
Avoid hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils such as canola and vegetable oils since these cause damage to your cardiovascular health. Instead, cook with first cold pressed olive and coconut oils (it has to say ‘first cold pressed’ on the label, meaning that you are getting all the nutrients out of the first batch used to make the oil, rather than what is left over after several batches being made, reconstituted, and/or processed with heat that kills off several of the vital nutrients.)
Other healthy oils to use that are rich in good fats like the poly and mono-unsaturated kinds as well as omega-3’s are sesame, safflower, grapeseed, almond and avocado oils. Sesame and coconut oils are also known to support the immune system for naturally being antiseptic and antibacterial.
Do not underestimate the extensive power of the Internet! You are always likely to find discounts and cheaper goods for non-perishable items like the quinoa pastas mentioned earlier, several different spices to flavor your foods, liquid or coconut aminos, nutritional yeast, alternative flours for baking such as tapioca, almond, coconut, or flax meal and so on.