Monday, May 18, 2009
Nutrition: It used to come naturally
If you take a walk through any American supermarket, you’ll find a small section of healthy foods.
High-fiber foods, such as dried beans and whole grain products take up very little space considering the square footage of the store.
The mainstay of the American diet is highly processed foods which are loaded with sodium and fat, including trans fat -- the really bad kind -- but are low in fiber and vital nutrients.
(Trans fats are created when hydrogen is added to liquid vegetable oils to make them solid. For example, solid vegetable shortening which is used in commercially prepared desserts. Read the labels! If you see the phrase, “partially hydrogenated oil” listed, drop the package and run!)
The phrase “empty calories” comes to mind. These are found in foods which contain a lot of calories with little or no nutrition - donuts, for instance.
Walk into a Middle Eastern grocery store and here’s what you’ll find: shelf-after-shelf piled high with legumes, grains, whole wheat or whole grain products. Many specialty items are homemade, without a zillion preservatives and additives you can’t pronounce.
Face it, our grandparents ate a much healthier diet. Fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables - or produce that’s home-preserved for year-round use; a lot of whole grains and legumes, fish, poultry, meat on occasion.
Even their desserts were healthier. Many contained nuts, dried fruit, and were sweetened with only a little honey or a touch of sugar.
Don’ forget exercise. Nanny and Baboog never joined a gym; they walked everywhere and climbed those steep steps several times a day -- every day-- to their second floor home, carrying heavy melons and other healthy foods.
Guess it’s time for me to follow my grandparents' example. Eat right and exercise!
(Yikes, did I say that???)