Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Foods, Know the Good Guys from the Bad Guys

What Your Body Needs   Many people think nothing of eating a double cheeseburger, medium fries and a

medium cola. If you dissect this “meal,” you’ll find that on average, it contains an unbelievable 68 grams of fat (17 teaspoons), almost half of which are saturated; 15 grams of trans fatty acids; 150 mg of cholesterol; 1,200 mg of salt; and 20 teaspoons of sugar (all from the cola)! If you factor in that the fries were probably cooked in hydrogenated cottonseed oil, one of the most heavily pesticide-laden crops in the world, and that the meat, if overcooked, could contain carcinogens, or if undercooked, could result in food poisoning from E. coli, you may agree it’s time to find a new all-American meal.

 The Bad Guys: High levels of saturated fat are consistently linked with elevated blood cholesterol levels, heart disease, insulin resistance and several forms of cancer. Most Americans eat about 40 grams of saturated fat every day, which is twice as much as is considered healthy. Animal products are the greatest source of saturated fats in the Western diet.

For many years, trans fatty acids were considered a relatively minor player in health and disease. Although their impact on total cholesterol is not quite as profound as it is with saturated fats, the overall damage to heart health is worse. Trans fatty acids not only raise total cholesterol, but also lower LDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol) and potentially increase triglycerides. Gram for gram, the adverse effect of trans fatty acids is estimated to be two to four times greater than that of saturated fatty acids. The most common sources arecrackers, cookies, granola bars, chips and other snack foods, baked goods, margarine, shortening and deep-fried fast foods.

 Cholesterol is made by animals, not plants; all animal foods contain cholesterol, while plant foods are all cholesterol-free. The next time you buy any plant-based food like peanut butter that says “no cholesterol” on the label, realize that is just a sales gimmick. There are several concerns about eating too much cholesterol because it can cause blood cholesterol levels to rise, increasing the risk of blood clots, heart attack and stroke. The recommended daily intake of cholesterol is less than 200 mg, which is a little less than the amount of cholesterol in one egg yolk.

 The Good Guys: Science has known for a very long time that vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds are healthful foods. Researchers assumed that the substances that made these foods so good for us were the vitamins, minerals and fiber. They were right, but only partly. In the past 20 years, scientists have discovered a whole new set of protective compounds packed within every whole-plant food: phytochemicals and antioxidants. Phytochemicals are natural substances that protect plants against attacks from insects. When we eat plants, these same powerful little protectors go to work on our behalf, with remarkable human health benefits.

  Many phytochemicals are strong antioxidants, neutralizing destructive free radicals. Some phytochemicals provide anticancer support, helping the body rid itself of potent carcinogens. Others protect against cardiovascular disease by helping to reduce the formation of cholesterol, lower blood pressure, decrease blood cholesterol levels, reduce blood clot formation, open blood vessels and decrease damage to blood vessel walls. The list of significant beneficial activities of phytochemicals includes anti-inflammatory, anti-yeast, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and immune-enhancing benefits. Which foods are the most efficient phytochemical factories? Vegetables and fruits stand out as being particularly important, although legumes (beans), grains, nuts and seeds are also excellent sources. Choosing a wide variety of colorful, whole-plant foods is the key to a phytochemical-rich diet.

December 6, 2011 - Posted by | Health and Fitness | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Thanks for the reminder especially around this holiday season when temptation is everywhere! love the photos.

    Comment by Tina | December 6, 2011 | Reply


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