As Dietitians, we help individuals, groups and families modify their nutrition and health habits to increase their energy, and improve medical conditions as well as improve overall health and vitality. There are plenty of foods that are good for us all to consume on a regular basis (think nuts, seeds, fish, avocados), as well as specific foods that can help improve many medical symptoms and/or test results. If you have been diagnosed with anything from high cholesterol to hypertension to diabetes to cancer, there are certain foods that will be better for you to eat than others.
As of last year, about 60% of adult Americans have at least one chronic health condition, which account for billions of dollars in health care costs each year. As of 2013, 70% Americans are on at least one prescription drug and 20% of patients are on five or more medications, and these numbers are only increasing! While it is always important to take your medications as prescribed by your doctor(s), we are here to remind you that food is medicine too! You have likely heard many times before that it is important to consume a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and unsaturated fats -in order to help prevent onset of diseases and maintain optimal health. Now we dig a bit deeper and help you understand which foods are best for YOU based on your medical history. We have also included simple, delicious recipes that incorporate the specific foods for your area of concern:
If you have or are concerned about Cardiovascular disease (CVD)...
Eat more quinoa, avocado, nuts, and salmon
The main areas of concern with CVD include unhealthy lipid levels, low fiber diets, and weight status. Quinoa and nuts are high in fiber, which helps reduce LDL ("bad" cholesterol) levels, controls blood glucose levels, and feeds your gut bacteria. Nuts, salmon, and avocado have plenty of healthy unsaturated fats, which can help reduce triglyceride and LDL cholesterol levels.
Making It Happen:
Try these recipes for quinoa crackers and avocado fudge:
If you have or are concerned about Hypertension...
Eat more red beets, bananas, spinach, and berries
These foods are all capable of working to help reduce blood pressure. Due to their high potassium content, spinach and bananas help your kidneys remove more sodium through your urine (which lowers your blood pressure). The beets and berries also reduce blood pressure by dilating your blood vessels.
Making it happen:
Here are easy recipes for beet hummus, blueberry banana pancakes, and a blueberry banana spinach smoothie:
If you have or are concerned about Cancer...
Eat more tomatoes, strawberries, and carrots
Tomatoes contain lycopene, which as you may have heard, can be an important antioxidant for preventing certain cancers, specifically prostate cancer. Strawberries and carrots also have antioxidants that may slow the growth of cancer cells. An important thing to remember for people with cancer or concerned about reduction cancer risk is to avoid char-grilled or deep fried foods (as if we need another reminder NOT to deep fry...) as well as reduce overall intake of red meats. Char-grilled foods have higher levels of carcinogenic byproducts created by cooking over high heat. Meanwhile, higher intake of red meats has been shown to be correlated with higher incidences of many cancers.
Making it happen:
Try this homemade tomato sauce-Bonus points (for you!) If you add in some chopped carrots!
If you have or are concerned about Diabetes...
Eat more nuts, green leafy vegetables, broccoli
Consistent and moderate carbohydrate intake are the keys to controlling diabetes, as the main concern in diabetes is controlling blood sugar levels. Not only are nuts and green veggies low in carbohydrate, but nuts are also a good source of fiber and healthy fats-which slow digestion and help reduce post-prandial (after eating) blood sugar. Green leafy vegetables contain fiber (again to slow digestion) and to fill us up. They also contain high amounts of vitamins including vitamin C, which help reduce inflammatory markers. Broccoli can even reduce oxidative stress in the body- which is helpful as oxidative stress increases insulin resistance and destroys beta cells in the pancreas.
Making it happen:
Here's a tasty recipe for almond crusted salmon!
At Nutrition Energy we love helping people come up with new and interesting ways to incorporate more delicious and healthy foods into their busy live, and helping them improve their laboratory results and overall health. We hope the above tips will help you do just that!