Three’s probably a reason you eat the foods you
do. Because your mom made them for you. Or because they come in the EZ-open
pouch. But if you keep eating the way you always have, you’ll never improve on
the body you’ve got. And the prognosis-on the mom diet, at least-isn’t good.
Look at your dad. That’s why providing you with 15 sneaky ways to improve your
diet. Same foods, better results. And nobody needs to be the wiser. Just think
of these food strategies as the cork in your bat, the glue on your glove, your
own personal, syringe-wielding East German Olympic swim-team coach. Only
difference is, each one is simple, nutritionally sound and perfectly legal in
all 50 states.
1. Whey your options Add a cup of ricotta cheese to your fruit smoothie. Ricotta is a soft, mild
cheese that’s made almost entirely of whey, the liquid that separates from
curd during the cheese-making process. Whey contains cysteine, an amino acid
that helps produce a cancer-fighting antioxidant called glutathione. When Ohio
State University researchers treated prostrate cells with whey protein,
glutathione levels jumped by 64 percent.
2. See Red Got
leftover tuna salad? Stuff it into a red bell pepper instead of sandwiching it
between two slabs of Wonder bread. Red peppers and other red-fleshed fruits such
as tomatoes, watermelons and ruby-red grapefruit are high in lycopene, a
phytochemical that can reduce the risk of prostrate cancer by 20 percent. Bake
the pepper and you’ll make it even more potent; heat makes lycopene easier for
your body to absorb.
3. Hit the sauce Think
of salsa as a vegetable and eat it as often as you can. “Just take a fish
fillet, pour salsa over it and throw it in the oven-you’ve got an instant
healthy meal,” says Cynthia Sass, M.P.H., and R.D. In addition to containing
lypopene from the tomatoes, salsa has no fat, only 4 calories per tablespoon and
as little as 70 milligrams (mg) of sodium.
4. Switch Syrups Move
over, Aunt Jemima: better syrup has come to take your place at the breakfast
table. “Sorghum syrup is produced in much the same way that molasses is made
from sugar-cane and it’s one of the best, most concentrated sources of dietary
antioxidants- period,” says Cheryl Forberg R.D., author of Stop the Clock!
Cooking. Like grits, sorghum syrup is more widely available in the South.
But you can find it at specialty-food stores all over the country.
5. Spread the Wealth You
could buy your own produce stand in order to keep up with the National Cancer
Institute’s recommended nine daily servings of fruits and vegetables. Or you
could just buy your fruit in a jar. One
tablespoon of unsweetened fruit spread (not sugary jelly or jam) on your morning
bagel counts as one of the day’s servings, says David Grotto, R.D., director
of nutrition education at the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Care in
Evanston, Illinois. Look for brands with a high vitamin content, like Crofters
6. Supplement with Herbs More
oregano makes for a more powerful pizza. A tablespoon of fresh oregano (not the
dried, bottled kind-natch) has a higher antioxidant yield than an entire apple,
according to U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers, who measured the
antioxidant levels of 39 common herbs. Bonus: Calorie counts for most herbs and
spices are nonexistent. The same can’t be said for other pizza toppings, like,
7. Be Crafty With Broccoli Power
up your mac and cheese by stirring in a cup of chopped steamed broccoli. When
you eat cruciferous vegetables-such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale and Brussels
sprouts- your body produces a chemical compound called 3,3’-diindolylmethane
that inhibits prostate cancer cell growth by up to 70 percent, according to
Leonard Bjeldanes, Ph. D., a professor of nutritional sciences and toxicology at
the University of California at Berkeley. “ I eat a large serving of them
three to five times a week,” he says. You should, too.
8. Get A Fruit Fix That
muck on the bottom of most yogurts has more fructose-as in high-fructose corn
syrup- than it has fruit. In addition to unnecessarily inflating the calorie
count, HFCS can significantly increase blood levels of triglycerides, raising
your risk of heart disease. Opt for plain yogurt instead and toss in some
raisins or dried pineapple chunks. Dehydrated fruit offers all the health
benefits of regular fruit, just concentrated.
9. Go To Seed Risk
an encounter with patchouli-scented Birkenstock wearers and buy a bag of ground
flaxseed at the health-food store. Add 3 or 4 tablespoons of it to cereal or
oatmeal. Ground flaxseed contains omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and compounds
called lignans-the nutrients that can reduce your risk of colon and prostate
cancers, heart disease and age-related vision loss. “You can consume flaxseed
as an oil,” Grotto says, “but the oil contains more calories and fewer
lignans, even in products that boast high lignans content.”
10. Feel Like A Nut-Sometimes Nuts
may have shed their unhealthy reputation, but that’s still no reason to…
well, go nuts, cautions Sass. To keep their high calorie content in check, she
suggests adding a golf ball-size serving of slivered almonds to cereal and
steamed vegetables. Almonds area rich source of vitamin E, which may reduce the
risk of Alzheimer’s disease by up to 70 percent, according to a National
Institute on aging study.
11. Turn Over A New Leaf Banish
iceberg lettuce from your sandwiches and salads; it has about as much
nutritional value as it has taste. “Spinach gives you more bang for the
buck,” says Forberg. A cup of spinach is an excellent source of folate (58
micrograms), which may help reduce your risk of heart attack.
12. Choc One Up It
may sound weird, but try dropping a couple of chunks of chocolate into your pot
of chili, your chili will taste better (trust us) and you’ll feel better,
knowing that the flavonoids and polyphenols in chocolate can lower your risk of
heart disease by 20 percent and keep LDL (bad) cholesterol from oxidizing into
an artery-damaging form. Dark or semisweet chocolate has more of the beneficial
compounds than other types do.
13. Sow Your Oats In
recipes that call for crumbles crackers (such as burgers or meat loaf), bait and
switch with an equal amount of rolled oats. “Oats contain soluble fiber and
that’s been shown to reduce cholesterol,” says Grotto. “Oats also contain
glucans, which have been shown to enhance natural killer cells-a type of white
blood cell that bolster immune function.”
14. Add Meal To Your Meal Add
cornmeal to watery soup to transform it into a hearty, healthier stew, says
Forberg. Cornmeal contains an antioxidant called zeaxanthin, which helps
preserve vision by increasing the concentration of macular pigment in your eyes.
Cornmeal also contains starch that will thicken the soup broth, which is why you
should whisk or stir a small handful of it in very slowly (otherwise), the soup
may get lumpy).
15. Mash In Milk Whole
milk helps make mashed potatoes fluffy. Unfortunately, it does the same for you.
Whether you’re making the real thing or rehydrating potato flakes, use
evaporated skim milk instead. “It’s thicker, so you get the creaminess but
not the fat,” says Sass. You also get three times the calcium per cup (742
mg). Cans of it hide in that most alien of grocery-store aisles: the baking
“healthy” foods that aren’t)
1. Ground Turkey. More
proof that it’s better to be a breast man. If you use ground turkey that
includes dark meat, your turkey patty will contain more fat, calories and
cholesterol than a burger made with 95 percent lean beef. Be sure you buy ground
turkey made from breast meat only.
2. Veggie Chips Or Sticks. What’s in a name? In this case, not what you’d think. Many vegetable
chips are just nutrient-free nothings constructed out of potato flour with a bit
of vegetable puree thrown in for color. Baked potato chips are a better bet.
They have fewer calories and less fat.
3. Sunny Delight. It’s got vitamin C going for it, but otherwise this chemical cocktail is
nutritionally void. Check the ingredient label: water, high-fructose corn syrup,
yellow food coloring and only 2 percent or less of orange, tangerine, apple,
lime or grapefruit juice. Stick with real orange juice.
4. Granola. It sounds so good for you. After all, the word itself has even become
synonymous with a healthy lifestyle. But high fiber can’t cover for
saturated-fat levels higher than you’d find in a hamburger. Why have all that
fat without any of the greasy goodness? Be smart, buy low-fat granola instead.
5. Wheat Bread. Often, breads labeled simply “wheat” are mostly made of fiber-stripped
white flour that’s been doctored with caramel coloring. “Whole” is the
word you want to see, as in “whole-grain” or “whole-wheat”-these have
the most vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants.