3 Tasty Foods That Will Transform Your Health

healthy foods

Just Add Healthy Food

There is an abundance of information circulating about what foods are bad for us…processed foods, sugar, bread, wheat, GMO foods, chips…  I don’t believe food is good, bad or should become a moral dilemma.  But, there are foods that are life-giving.  Yes, there are foods that will actually add to the health and length of your life!  There are foods that are healing.  And, there are foods that can transform your health.  

Paul makes this statement with such grace and wisdom, “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” 1 Corinthians 6:12 (NKJV)

He was so keenly aware that while not bound by strict laws, rules, and guidelines, he was able to exert the ability to choose. And, with choice, he could continue to exercise his freedom and not be bound by emotional, mental or physical chains of this world.  

Later in Corinthians, he exhorts us saying, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31 (NKJV)

Believers can raise the standard of good health by accepting the call to honor our Creator with the way we nourish and fuel our bodies.

Instead of focusing on the foods that our culture currently says are unhealthy, let’s move our focus to the foods that can take our health to the next level and become a visible sign that we were “wonderfully made.”

The following are 3 foods that have the potential to transform your health, one meal at a time.

Salmon

salmonSalmon is a rich source of a variety of nutrients, quality protein, and contains a huge dose of  omega-3 fatty acids.  A significant amount of research demonstrates that consistently eating salmon can transform your cardiovascular health, reduce the risk of several types of cancer, improve joint function, and more!  

What is incredibly important to note is that while omega-3 fatty acids in salmon tend to get the most attention, salmon is a delicious delivery system for so many nutrients.  

Nutrient Highlights

(4ounce wild-caught cooked coho salmon portion)
31 grams quality protein
Over 200% daily needs for B12
Over 100% daily needs for vitamin D
78% daily needs for selenium

Salmon and Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Most health organizations recommend 250-500mg omega-3 fatty acids per day and actually 1000-2000mg per day for those with cardiovascular disease.  Salmon varieties differ in quantity of omega-3 fatty acids, but most 4 ounce portions contain 1000-2000mg.

How can salmon transform your health?

  • Nutrients like omega-3 in salmon help reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease-related issues.  Research shows they help reduce triglycerides, strokes, heart arrhythmias and the fatty buildup of plaque on the artery walls (atherosclerosis).
  • Consistent intake of omega-3 foods like salmon has been shown to reduce depression, improve memory function in older adults and protect the brain of a baby in the womb.
  • Salmon is high in selenium which has been shown to decrease the risk of joint inflammation and contribute to reduced risk of some types of cancer.
  • A 4-ounce portion of salmon contains about 20% of your recommended daily intake of potassium which helps control blood pressure.

Health authorities recommend at least 2, 4-ounce portions of fatty fish, like salmon, each week.  Whenever able, choose “wild-caught” salmon as it is likely to have the least mercury and caught in the most sustainable ways.  According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, these are some of the best choices:

Alaskan salmon
Sockeye salmon
Coho salmon
Pink salmon

Find out more about sustainable fishing, contaminants, and good choices at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

When buying salmon, use these criteria:

  • Consistent pink color; no dark spots or discoloration
  • Ocean scent (not fishy)
  • No slimy texture
  • Firm flesh that springs back

How to incorporate into your meals:

  • Top a salad with broiled or grilled salmon fillet
  • Make salmon salad to eat with whole grain crackers for lunch
  • Create salmon burgers or salmon croquettes
  • Broil with an easy glaze —  try out my Maple Dijon Salmon recipe that is ready in under 20 minutes!

Brussel Sprouts

brussel sproutsGrown on a thick stalk, brussel sprouts are delicious mini monsters exploding with nutrition! This specific family of veggies has undergone extensive research in the areas of cancer and also appears to hold the keys to anti-inflammatory support. Don’t overcook them to keep their sulfur-containing compounds in check. But definitely buy them because when prepared right, they are good eats!

Nutrient Highlights

(1 cup cooked)
4 grams of fiber
over 200% of your daily needs for vitamin K
100% of your needs for vitamin C
23% of recommended needs for folate

How can brussel sprouts transform your health?

  • Cooking or preparing brussel sprouts with a little bit of healthy oil will help you absorb the vitamin K, which is involved in blood clotting and healthy bones.
  • Brussel sprouts are a good source of folate, which can help prevent neural tube defects (like spina bifida) during pregnancy.
  • As part of the cruciferous vegetable family (cabbage, broccoli, kale, etc), brussel sprouts contain the recognizable sulfur compounds, but these powerful glucosinolate chemicals may help reduce the risk of some cancers.
  • With only 56 calories per cup, these tasty little guys will fill you up and nourish your body without spending extra calories to do so.

How to buy?

Brussel sprouts can be bought loose in a bag or still on the stalk.  Simply twist these little cabbages off the stalk and they are ready to go!  The head of the brussel sprout should be bright green and have tightly sealed leaves.  While dirty or blemished leaves can be removed, look for those that appear to be mostly void of blemishes.  Give a thorough rinse and they are ready to prepare.

How to incorporate into your meals:

  • Try these sweet and tangy brussel sprouts in this simple One Pan Vegetables and Chicken Sausage meal
  • Roast brussel sprouts with honey and parmesan cheese
  • Grill skewered brussel sprouts that have been lightly oiled and seasoned.
  • Make a quick slaw by tossing shaved brussel sprouts with olive oil, lemon juice, salt/pepper; optional: grated cheese; pomegranate seeds; cooked, chopped center cut bacon.
  • Saute shaved or shredded brussel sprout leaves in sesame oil; season and serve warm.

Beans

beansBeans, legumes, and lentils are a powerhouse of nutrients and contain the highest source of fiber available from plants per serving!  There are hundreds of types of beans available, although Americans tend to eat only a handful of varieties.  Unlike most animal protein, beans are saturated fat and cholesterol free but do contain beneficial minerals like iron and zinc just like meat.  

They have a unique combination of complex carbohydrate and protein, becoming the perfect meat replacement on “Meatless Mondays”.  And don’t get stuck eating just 1 or 2 kinds. Make sure to try different varieties as they all boast an impressive but slightly different nutrient profile while varying in texture, flavor, color and size.  

Nutrient Highlights

(1/2 cup cooked black beans)
7.5 grams of fiber
10% daily requirement for iron
7.5 grams plant protein
32% daily needs for folate

How can beans transform your health:

  • Containing both soluble and insoluble fiber, a ½ cup serving of any type of bean will provide 5-10 grams of total fiber along with 6-9 grams of protein that will help keep you full and satisfied for hours.  This makes it easier to get food off the brain and stay energized until your next meal!
  • Beans naturally have many types of phytonutrients, specifically flavonoids which studies have shown work to control lipid (fat) metabolism and to positively aid in cholesterol excretion.  
  • Heart-healthy beans have been proven to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.  One Canadian study showed that a daily (¾ cup) serving beans reduced LDL by 5%!
  • All types of beans boast a low glycemic index due to their complex carbs and protein.  This means that they are slowly digested, helping to keep blood sugar in the normal range.
  • The fiber in beans sweeps waste through the intestines, keeping your digestive tract working swiftly and efficiently.

How to buy?

Dry or canned beans are both good options, but look out for sodium when buying canned.  Choose beans low in sodium or “no salt” variety.  Compare brands, choosing those with 200mg sodium or less per serving.

Ideas to incorporate beans into your meals:

  • Make this Hearty Beef and Bean Pumpkin Chili when you crave comfort food!
  • Stir in a can of black beans to cooked brown rice along with salsa for the perfect tex-mex side.
  • Stuff peppers with the following mixture: cooked lentils, fresh or canned tomatoes, your favorite whole grain (quinoa, barley, etc), chopped fresh or dried herbs; top with feta cheese and bake.
  • Add pureed beans as a thickener to soups or to add moisture to meatloaf.

So, what’s the play call?

Your health is your own and your health determines the vitality of your future. Make a decision to include at least 1 of these foods more frequently in your weekly meals.  Try a new recipe or break out an old one. Toss your pre-conceived ideas to the wind and begin transforming your health today.

 

REFERENCES

Seafood Health Facts
Authority Nutrition
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Evidence Analysis Library
American Heart Association
USDA Food Composition Databases
National Cancer Institute- Cruciferous Vegetables and Cancer Prevention
US Dry Bean Council

Ha, V., Sievenpiper, J. L., de Souza, R. J., Jayalath, V. H., Mirrahimi, A., Agarwal, A., … Jenkins, D. J. A. (2014). Effect of dietary pulse intake on established therapeutic lipid targets for cardiovascular risk reduction: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association Journal, 186(8), E252–E262. http://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.131727

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