Romaine lettuce, for instance, not only has six times as much vitamin C and eight times as much beta carotene as iceberg lettuce but also has more than twice as much folate, a B vitamin that is especially.
important for women of childbearing age. Spinach, watercress, arugula, and chicory are other nutritious salad greens.
Reconsider canned corn. The heat processing used to prepare canned corn actually boosts levels of antioxidants and other healthful phytochemicals in sweet corn. Heating corn, whether on the cob or in the can, has a similar effect. The same is true of carrots and tomatoes: processing and cooking make carotenoids in them, notably beta carotene and lycopene, more readily available.
To reduce the calories and saturated fat in your hamburger, substitute beans (such as mashed black beans) or grains (such as cooked bulgur or rice) for some of the chopped meat. The beans and grains are not just extenders: they also enhance the flavor and boost the fiber content.
Here’s a high-fiber alternative to tomato or cream sauces on pasta: toss the cooked pasta with canned or homemade lentil or other bean soup. This is a quick version of the nutritious pasta and bean dishes popular in Italy. Or purée the soup before adding it to the pasta.
Don’t microwave an egg in its shell, not even to reheat a hardboiled egg. Pressure can build up inside, causing the egg to explode in the oven—or even worse, after you take it out, in which case it can cause burns and serious eye injury.
Opt for 1% or nonfat milk. Lowfat milk is not created equal. A cup of 2% milk contains 5 grams of fat and thus derives 35% of its calories from fat. A cup of 1% milk contains less than 3 grams of fat and gets 22% of its calories from fat. Whole milk contains about 3.5% fat by weight, yet this fat supplies 50% of its calories. Nonfat milk, of course, has virtually no fat and contains just as much calcium as whole milk.
Eat walnuts and flaxseed. They reduce levels of C-reactive protein (a marker for inflammation associated with heart disease) in the body, as well as LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and triglycerides. These foods are rich in an omega3 fat called alpha-linolenic acid; canola oil is another source. Studies have shown that alpha-linolenic acid (as well as the other omega3s in fish) helps to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Add a sprinkling of poppy seeds to your green salad to give it a rich, nutty flavor. One teaspoon of poppy seeds has only 15 calories, healthy fats, and even some calcium and iron.
Use canned pumpkin: it’s as nutritious as fresh, and that’s very nutritious. A half cup has more beta carotene than a standard supplement (15,000 IU), plus a good amount of fiber, iron, and other minerals, but just 40 calories. Besides pies, you can use canned pumpkin in soups, pancakes, bread, muffins, and cookies. Or try mixing it into applesauce or plain low-fat yogurt, along with some sugar or honey.
Keep garlic in oil combinations refrigerated, whether commercial or homemade. Garlic can pick up the bacterium that causes botulism from the soil. Immersing the garlic in the oil gives the spores the oxygen-free environment they need to germinate if left at room temperature. The resulting toxin cannot be detected by taste or smell. Be equally careful with flavored oils containing herbs.
Try frozen fruits and vegetables as tasty, nutritious snacks. Frozen bananas, strawberries, and blueberries are delicious, and kids who won’t eat cooked peas may like them straight from the freezer.
If you find that nonfat milk tastes watery, add a tablespoon or two of nonfat dried milk to each cup. This will help make the milk thicker and richer tasting, and also boost the calcium and protein content.
Choose a roast beef sandwich instead of a hamburger at fast-food restaurants. Roast beef usually contains less saturated fat and fewer calories.
When shopping for whole grain, high-fiber bread, read the label carefully. Unless the label lists whole wheat or another whole grain as the first ingredient, it’s mostly refined white flour. The following terms or phrases usually mean little on a bread label: multigrain; made with 3 natural brans; wheatberry; cracked wheat; wheat (simply white flour); stone ground (not an issue); oatmeal (usually not much); rye (ditto); sprouted wheat; unbleached (but still refined flour); or un bromated (not treated with potassium bromate—but not necessarily whole grain). Commercial rye and pumpernickel usually contain mostly white flour.
Compare labels on packaged deli meats. A one-ounce slice of turkey breast is almost fat-free—0.2 grams of fat in about 35 calories. Turkey Bologna, on the other hand, contains 55 calories and 4 grams of fat in a one-ounce slice, which means that more than 60% its calories come from fat. One ounce of lean ham (labeled “95% fat-free” by weight) gets about one-third of its 37 calories from 1.4 grams of fat. In contrast, regular ham is 11% fat by weight, so about half, the 52 calories in a one-ounce slice come from its 3 grams of fat.
If you like sausage but not its extremely high-fat content, try one of the meatless sausage products available in health food stores and specialty shops. These are made from vegetables, beans, grains, and aromatic herbs and spices. Besides breakfast fare, the low-fat, no cholesterol “sausage” can be used in casseroles, pasta dishes, stuffing, or pizza. Check the label—not all vegetarian products are low in fat and calories.
Gradually increase the number of high fiber foods you eat. Don’t give up on fiber-rich grains and produce if they give you gas or cause bloating. Fiber’s health benefits are many, including a reduced risk of colon cancer and constipation. Also, try a variety of fiber-rich foods until you find some that do not cause digestive problems. And it’s important to drink plenty of water when increasing your fiber intake.
If you’re going to keep fresh spinach for more than a few days, you’re better off buying frozen. That’s because spinach loses nutrients rapidly after picking, even when refrigerated.