The fast-paced nature of our modern lives has caused many American families to turn to quick, pre-packaged foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Dr. Jonathan Wright, coauthor of “Eating Clean For DummiesZ, says that these foods don’t pack the nutritious punch that our bodies need. Fortunately, he offers some healthy alternatives.
“When you make out your weekly shopping list, are most of the foods you go for in boxes, cans, or some other packaging? Are the foods packed full of ingredients that you can barely pronounce? If so, then you and your family might not be getting all the vitamins and nutrients you need to stay healthy. You may want to trade in those processed foods for whole foods and start eating clean,”says Dr. Jonathan Wright.
“Think of eating clean as cleaning up your life,” says Dr. Wright, coauthor along with Linda Larsen of Eating Clean For DummiesZ. “Just as you’d like to live in a house free of clutter, you need to remove clutter from your diet. That means throwing out the junk foods, refined sugar, additives, preservatives, trans fats, white flour, artificial flavors, and toxins that can be so prevalent in processed foods.”
Essentially, the eating clean plan calls you to do the following
Eat the foods made by nature, not man.
Plan to eat five or six meals and snacks throughout the day.
Avoid processed foods (in other words, anything in a box with a label).
Use healthy cooking methods.
Eat before you become super hungry.
Stop eating when you’re satisfied, not stuffed.
Don’t count your calories, fat grams, or points.
Enjoy and appreciate its flavor.
Read on to learn about the ten foods you should always include on your eating clean shopping list. These foods are great because they have many uses in the kitchen, they’re inexpensive, and they contain the most potent phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals your body needs to be at its best.
Sweet potatoes are #1. The Center for Science in the Public Interest has ranked sweet potatoes as number one in nutrition, which is no surprise considering that these spuds are loaded with fiber, protein, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, potassium, magnesium, zinc, carotenoids, iron, and calcium. As a matter of fact, sweet potatoes have more than twice the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin A, more than 40 percent of the RDA of vitamin C, and four times the RDA for beta carotene. And each sweet potato contains only about 130 calories!
Get fishy with wild salmon. Wild salmon contains high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, protein, and vitamin D. It’s also a great source of niacin, selenium, and vitamins B12 and B6. Eating salmon also helps prevent heart disease and diseases caused by inflammation. Scientists have recently found that omega-3 fatty acids can help slow the degenerative effects of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. These fatty acids can also help lower the risk of depression and aggressive behavior.
Olive oil is the healthy way to dress up your food. You can use olive oil when sauteing foods, as the fat in almost any baking or cooking recipe, in salad dressings, and when frying foods. Most of the fatty acids in olive oil are omega-9 fatty acids, which are healthy monounsaturated fats that can help lower total blood cholesterol levels. Extra-virgin olive oil is made from the first pressing of olives, without heat, so it’s high in vitamin E and phenols, both of which are powerful antioxidants.
Don’t avoid cruciferous vegetables. What are cruciferous veggies and what makes them so great? Well, the category includes broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, Kohl-rabi, cabbage, kale, and bok choy. And many studies have found a link between eating these veggies and protecting the body from cancer. Specifically, phytochemicals in these foods, including sulforaphane, indole-3-carbinol, and crambene, help the enzymes in your body that destroy carcinogens before they can damage your cells. As an added bonus, these veggies are high in antioxidants, which help prevent oxidation and damage from free radicals.
It’s okay to be a little nutty. Did you know that nuts are actually seeds? Well, it’s true; any one nut contains every nutrient needed to support the sprouting and growth of an entire young tree! The many nutrients that nuts provide offer plenty of benefits to you.
Clean up sandwiches and salads with avocados. Avocados are a rich and buttery treat, and-as surprising as it may be-they’re very good for you! These fruits are high in vitamins E, C, and K, potassium, oleic acid, folate, antioxidants, and phytochemicals (which stop free radical damage). The fat in avocados is monounsaturated, which means it lowers blood cholesterol levels. Plus, avocados contain beta-sitosterol, which is a phytochemical that also reduces cholesterol.
Go green and eat clean with these leafy greens. To get the most nutrients for the fewest calories, always put foods like kale, collard greens, romaine lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, and escarole in your shopping cart. These greens are rich in vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins C, K, E, the B complex, potassium, and magnesium, as well as phytonutrients, including lutein, quercetin, zeaxanthin, and beta carotene.
Spice things up with curry powder. Curry powder is a blend of several different spices, all of which are high in antioxidants and phytochemicals. But the most important spice in curry powder is turmeric, which provides a yellow color and subtle rich flavor. Turmeric contains curcumin, which is a powerful phytochemical.
Satisfy your sweet tooth with berries (especially blueberries). Berries are a wonderful sweet treat, and they make a delicious dessert all by themselves. Plus, they’re very good for you. Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C and contain phytochemicals that can help fight cancer. Blueberries, especially wild blueberries, are one of the healthiest foods on earth, with the highest antioxidant content of all fresh fruit.
Get to the root of clean eating with garlic and onions. These pungent root vegetables are good sources of allyl sulfides, which are phytochemicals that can help reduce the risk of cancer and calm inflammation in the body. These veggies are also high in polyphenols and flavonoids, which prevent oxidation and stop free radical damage. Garlic can help lower cholesterol levels, too.