While we’ve discovered that it’s a wonder food, it’s fair to say that man (and woman) cannot live on watermelon alone (see last week’s healthy eating article). Nor do we need to. Summer is the perfect time to commit to healthy eating because the offerings are plentiful.
Bring on the Produce
Farmers’ markets, local produce stands and even our own gardens offer an abundance of healthy eating options in the form of colorful, fresh fruits and vegetables. These are just a few which you should consider adding to or increasing in your diet.
- Iceberg lettuce-Leafy greens are all good for you but iceberg lettuce in particular is high in antioxidants as well as in vitamin K which helps fight osteoporosis and regulates blood clotting.
- Corn is high in antioxidants, particularly lutein and zeaxanthin which may help lower the risk of age related macular degeneration. WHFoods reports that corn has an impressive combination of antioxidant and can decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Tart cherries are one of the very few natural sources of melatonin. Consuming tart cherries can help you sleep better as well as control your blood pressure.
- Avocado is high in potassium, vitamins B6, C and E, magnesium and folate. It’s also high in monounsaturated fat which is good for your heart.
- Tomatoes, as reported by AARP, help protect you from several types of cancers, but also guards against heart disease, osteoporosis and diabetes. Because of the importance of remaining hydrated, it’s recommended that you make sure to include in your diet, fruits and veggies with high water content. These include cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes lettuce, carrots, watermelon, berries, cantaloupe, oranges and grapefruits.
- Bananas are among the best sources of potassium which is great for helping to control blood pressure, maintain healthy heart function and promote bone health. Bananas are also believe to help guard against age related macular degeneration.
A Favorite Snack Food
Popcorn has gotten a bad rap because of the way it’s served in movie theaters-sodden with high fat butter/oil and then covered in salt. However, in more basic form, popcorn has more of the antioxidant polyphenois than many fruits and vegetables. It’s also an excellent source of fiber.
Spice it Up
Spices are good for more than flavor.
- Turmeric-The compound curcumin which is found in turmeric, is thought to fight Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and different forms of cancer.
- Cinnamon lowers blood sugar, triglycerides and cholesterol and is thought to stimulate the circulatory system.
- Ginger can be used as an appetite stimulant and to fight nausea. Furthermore its anti-inflammatory properties help fight cancer and arthritis.
- Garlic helps to prevent cancer and lowers total cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
- Cayenne pepper—beware of heartburn, but cayenne pepper is a source of capsaicin and beta carotene which help prevent cancer and boost immunity.
If you’re interested in healthy eating, it’s important to know what to avoid. The CDC recommends that seniors avoid hot dogs, lunch meats and cold cuts/deli meats unless they’re heated to an internal temperature of 165 degrees. It’s also best to avoid refrigerated pate or meat spread, and soft cheese unless it’s labeled that it’s made with pasteurized milk. These items may be contaminated with bacteria listeria which can cause serious illness for older adults and individuals with weakened immune systems.