Sunday, December 21, 2008

Choose your Food - Part II of Healthy Eating

The inexpensive legume family, which includes beans, peas, peanuts and lentils, has priceless benefits.
Legumes are rich in folic acid, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc and antioxidants.
Their high protein and complex carbohydrates provide steady energy that lasts for hours.
They are especially high in soluble fibber, and a daily serving of cooked beans may lower blood cholesterol by as much as 18 percent, decreasing the risk of heart disease.
Most legumes also contain protease inhibitors, compounds thought to suppress cancer cells and slow tumour growth.
And then there are the robotics in beans, substances that aid in beneficial bacteria growth in the intestine.
All legumes, and especially soy, are important in vegetarian diets for their high protein content.
Best of all, beans taste great, dried beans have a superior taste and texture but they take longer to cook. Canned beans offer a quick alternative and most of the same health benefits. Rinse canned beans with water before cooking and you’ll remove as much as 40 percent of the sodium used in processing.

Although high in calories, nuts often enable people to maintain or lose weight. A small handful eaten between meals or added to salads, grains or vegetables gives a sense of satiety and results in less total food intake. Nuts have great nutritional benefits, as well.
Almonds, pecans and pistachios are rich in protein.
Walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids.
Toss sesame seeds in a meal for extra calcium and vitamin E.
Sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds are particularly good sources of phytosterols, also known as plant sterols, which promote heart health.
Since nuts are high in fats, they can easily become rancid. Store them in the freezer to extend their life. Nuts are also delicious, so it’s also a good idea to practice portion control. Measure out small portions and take care to not eat them mindlessly from a large container.

Protein is an important part of every diet and is found in many different foods. Lean protein, the best kind, can be found in fish, skinless chicken and turkey, pork tenderloin and certain cuts of beef, like the top round. Low-fat dairy products like milk, yogurt, ricotta and other cheeses supply both protein and calcium.
Protein is crucial for tissue repair, building and preserving muscle, and making important enzymes and hormones.
Lean meats and dairy contribute valuable minerals like calcium, iron, selenium and zinc. These are not only essential for building bones, and forming and maintaining nerve function, but also for fighting cancer, forming blood cells and keeping immune systems robust.

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