Mousab Kassem Azzawi
2020 / 10 / 8
Researched by Academy House Team
Edited by Mousab Kassem Azzawi, MSc, MD, PhD.
Research shows that food impacts our health, but not in the same -dir-ection´-or-at the same level. There are some unique properties of various foods that make them of high nutritional value. You should eat vegetables, grains, and legumes as whole foods-;- try not to process, refine,´-or-filter them for the best effects. In addition, incorporate lean protein, preferably from the plant-based sources, into your diet. Consume healthy forms of fat, such as olive oil, nuts, seeds, pumpkin, and flax. It is important to remember that how you cook a food can affect its nutritional content.
One of the nutrition icons is whole foods, which are foods that are not processed, refined,´-or-filtered. Whole foods are high in phytonutrients, which mainly come from plants, vegetables, and fruits. They have beneficial effects on our body that are even greater than the effects of the vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients that we get when we eat a food.
There are over 10,000 phytonutrients, which have antioxidant effects. They can boost the immune system and, therefore, prevent cancer. They are anti-inflammatory, and they can prevent heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease. They are even antiviral and antibacterial-;- some of them behave like antibiotics. We typically find these foods in coloured vegetables.
The deeper the colour of the food—the darker the berry´-or-the redder the grape—the more phytonutrients it has. Vegetables, fruits, nuts, flax seeds, olive oil, and even chocolate are excellent sources of phytonutrients.
One of the greatest things that whole foods give us is fibre. Soluble fibre is found in foods such as beans, peas, nuts, apples, and vegetables. Fibre is important in lowering cholesterol and blood sugar. It binds the fatty acids in the intestine and pulls them out of the body. Fibre also blocks the quick absorption of sugar.
When adding fibre—ideally 35 grams per day—to your diet, a few categories are important to mention here:
* Whole grains: Steel-cut oats are a perfect example of a whole grain, and psyllium is one of the most potent sources of soluble fibre.
* Fruits: You should eat two to three whole fruits, including dark berries and apples, per day.
* Legumes and beans: These carry a lot of fibre.
* Vegetables: Green leafy vegetables have calcium and magnesium, do not have sugar, do not spike up your insulin, and contain lots of fibre.
However, you have to gradually add fibre into your diet—especially if you are not used to eating it—because if you add a lot of fibre suddenly, you will experience a lot of gas and bloating.
Broccoli contains sulforaphane, which is an anticancer food that eliminates toxins from our body.
Green vegetables such as arugula, bok choy, brussels sprouts, mustard greens, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, collard greens, watercress, and radishes have similar effects to broccoli on your body.
Spinach is high in antioxidant activity, and research shows that it is good for the eyes.
Lycopene occurs in tomatoes and can prevent prostate cancer. It can even lower blood pressure and block platelets from sticking together, which is the first step to having a heart attack.
Blueberries contain anthocyanosides, which protect the eye, give you the most potent antioxidant that is good for your heart, and block bacteria from sticking to the lining of your bladder.
Ingesting cranberry is like taking an antibiotic. It contains hippuric acid, and just like the blueberry, it blocks E. coli—one of the most common pathogens for urinary tract infections—from sticking to the lining of the bladder.
Nuts are a source of fibre and protein. They also contain magnesium, zinc, calcium, and vitamin E—an antioxidant.
Walnuts have over 16 polyphenols, which are phytonutrients with strong antioxidant ability. They help to protect our heart and brain.
Do not eat too many nuts because they have a lot of calories. Instead, use them as a garnish-;- for example, put them on top of a salad.
Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and are found in beef, lard, cream, cheese, and butter.
Unsaturated fats contain two categories. Monounsaturated fats are typically plant-based, and can be found in olives, nuts, and seeds. Polyunsaturated fats contain two main groups: Omega-6s comes from corn, corn oil, safflower oil, and sunflower oil, and omega-3s come from fish.
The ideal omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is two to one. Olive oil has a ratio of around 13 to one, which is great for an oil. Please remember that olive oil becomes toxic at high temperatures. Therefore, it should not be used for cooking. Sunflower oil would be a good alternative to olive oil for cooking.
Proteins that come from plant sources are things like edamame, nuts, and legumes, which are the healthiest source of protein. Proteins that come from animals are omega-3 eggs, low-fat yogurt, fish, chicken, and turkey, should always be consumed in moderation. Nonetheless, red meat is by far the worst source of proteins given the fact that increase consumption of red meat is correlated with higher propensity to develop cardiovascular diseases, as well as an increased risk for colon and prostate cancers.
The way we prepare a food can lead to the production of bad chemicals, such as lipid peroxidases, advanced glycation end products (AGEs), and heterocyclic amines.
AGEs make proteins more likely to disturb our immune system. They lead to inflammation, accelerate ageing, and make heart disease and brain disease much worse.
We ingest AGEs by cooking in high temperatures, and we inhibit them by cooking with moisture. When you can, boil your food for only a few minutes, poach, and use a steamer. The more you fry, broil, and roast, the more you increase the AGEs in your food.