Are all calories created equal?? Part two…
Dear HartsSpace fans,
I had SO much fun writing the last blog about how two diferent 930 calorie meals would affect the body that I just HAD to continue on this topic in this blog. If you’d like to read the first part of this blog I will insert a link within this sentence click right HERE. In the first part of this blog I ranted about fiber for several paragraphs while saying that fiber was just the tip of the iceberg, and that is the TRUTH! The healthy 930 calorie meal referenced in the previous blog consisted of a salad with fresh greens, grilled salmon, roasted vegetables, avocados, nuts, seeds, whole grains and a fantastic salad dressing made with olive oil. While fiber helps to explain how that meal can help with weight management there are many other components of this healthy enticing salad that provide your body health benefits.
For starters the fact that the star of the show in that healthy salmon salad is vegetables. Not starch, not a gigantic chunk of protein, but vegetables. This may sound strange to you to have veggies be the central focus of the meal since our society tends to load our plates with meat, starch and just a dash of veggies (or sometimes none… gasp!) however as far as what’s healthy and the most recent recommendations for how to eat, this is how we all should consider eating. Why are vegetables so important? Because they are chock full of natural vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients all while staying low in calories. Since they are low in calories, you might have already noticed that you are able to eat more of them. They don’t fill us up as quickly as rice, bread, meats, etc. But they provide us with exponentially more health benefits than similar proportions of carbs and proteins. The best way to describe vegetables amazing profile of being LOW in calories and HIGH in nutrition is NUTRIENT DENSITY. Vegetables essentially give us the most bang for our buck as far as how many nutrients we get in every bite. And they give us a nutrient profile that will NEVER be replicated in a supplement nor a green powder that you might find at the health food store. Why is that? Because vegetables have phytonutrients. Phyto- WHAT??!! This is a big word that describes all of the plant compounds in plant foods that provide us with health benefits outside of the category of vitamins and minerals. While vitamins and minerals provide us with a specific metabolic function (meaning they are used in very specific and regular bodily processes) they additionally have these wonderful compounds called phytonutrients which are sometimes referred to in the media as anti-oxidants. Antioxidants can be either a vitamin, or a phytonutrient and they essentially are compounds that can protect your cells from damage. Other phytonutrient functions are anti inflammatory and even anti cancer. We like anti inflammatory compounds since sometimes our diet and lifestyle can lead to damage of our tissues and cells which our body tries to correct by becoming inflamed. The only problem with that is if we are chronically inflammed due to unhealthy diet and lifestyle, we are risking long term damage in the form of an inflammatory disorders like atherosclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, acne, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease etc. To prevent chronic inflammation it is best to eat a plant foods based diet so we are constantly throwing anti inflammatory componds at our cells and being proactive against inflammation, cell damage and potentially pre-cancerous cell progression. You will never find all this amazing nutrition in a supplement! While a supplement might provide you with one or several vitamins it will never hold all of the non-nutrient health benefits that you’d get from a plant food that naturally are packed together in the food form. Plant foods = vitamins + minerals + phytonutrients + fiber = WAY BETTER THAN A MULTIVITAMIN!
The biggest complaint I hear from patients is that they just flat out don’t like vegetables. Some people might taste bitter stronger than others so these people just might never like bitter vegetables. However, not all veggies are bitter. Other people might have had a bad experience with them as a kid. Maybe they were burned by a brussel sprout that their parent forced them to eat in order to prevent an early bed time. Or maybe they were subjected to terribly overcooked, mushy and under flavored broccoli night after night as a kid and forced to “clean their plate because there are starving children in Africa”… YUCK!! These childhood experiences can certainly set us up for vegetable failure later in life. This is very sad! However I am always encouraging patients who say they dislike vegetables to try some newer methods of cooking and flavoring them that they likely never had as kids. Like the recipes that I have posted all over these blog posts!
When it comes to health in general we really should be planning our meals around vegetables. When making a grocery list, write out 5 vegetables that you’ll have with each dinner. Or a Salad mix that you and the family might like for each night that will be eaten at home. Take preferences into account, please don’t force anyone to eat anything they don’t want to!! If the kids won’t eat veggies, give them fruit while you keep offering veggies nightly. And flavor flavor flavor! That is how you win people over with vegetables. When in doubt – for roasting veggies, some fresh lemon juice with a teaspoon or two of honey/pure maple syrup, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, sea salt and pepper will go a long way. And in a salad my most recent favorite and incredibly EASY salad dressing is this one click right HERE. And as always look online or through our HartsSpace blogs for many many more ideas!
When you treat your vegetables right, dress them up pretty, and give them the respect they deserve, your families and dinner guests will be pleasantly surprised. And very impressed!