Surprising Benefits of 6 of my Favorite Foods

With some foods, it’s a no-brainer whether or not they are healthy; fruits, brownies, Cheetos, vegetables, deep dish pizza, brown rice… it’s pretty clear what category these foods fall into. We generally know what foods are considered healthy, but do you ever question it and wonder WHY or HOW they are good for us? Here are the health benefits of a few different foods that have been on my grocery list for quite some time now.

 

Disclaimer: This post contains science. I’m sorry, I just love science. I will try to tone it down BUT I want to explain HOW these foods are healthy so it doesn’t seem like outrageous claims with zero information to back it up. Anyone can say “oh yeah, turkey can help build stronger teeth, boost your immune system, and actually influence your mental health” but not everyone can explain the WHY and HOW behind these benefits.

 

 

 

OATS

 

Oats have been a part of my daily breakfast for 3 years now, I absolutely love oats. I’m talking the steel cut or quick 1-minute oats in the tubs, not the instant oatmeal. 1 packet of instant Quaker maple & brown sugar oatmeal = 12 g of sugar VS. 1 C of Quaker 1-minute oats = 2 g of sugar... My choice is obvious.

  • One of the most nutrient dense foods that’s packed with vitamins + minerals. Here are the % of DRI (Daily Recommended Intake) of some of the vitamins and minerals based on 100g of oats:

    • Thiamine – 51

    • Magnesium – 44

    • Phosphorous – 52

    • Manganese – 246

  • Lower blood pressure + anti-inflammatory effects because they’re rich in antioxidants (especially avenanthramides)

  • Great for those who are overweight and/or have type 2 diabetes because oats lower blood sugar levels due to a reduced insulin (blood sugar) response

  • Great source of fiber (specifically beta-glucagon)

    • Beta-glucan can reduce total cholesterol and LDL (low-density lipoproteins AKA “bad” cholesterol, HDL is the “good” cholesterol)

    • Increase fullness

    • Promote growth of good gut bacteria

    • May help reduce the risk of coronary artery disease

TURKEY

 

I love the ground turkey from Aldi (it is so cheap) with some sort of BBQ rub. Tip: completely cook the turkey until it is browned AND THEN add the seasoning. This prevents the turkey from drying out as much!

  • Low in fat

  • Very high in protein: good source of essential amino acids

    • Amino acids = building blocks of protein

    • There are 20 amino acids, 9 of which are essential AKA our body cannot synthesize them so we must get them from our diet

  • Vitamins + minerals

    • Selenium = important role in thyroid hormone metabolism, immune system function, and antioxidant defense

    • Phosphorous = building healthy bones + teeth, influences how the body makes protein, and effects how carbs and fats are utilized in the body

    • Handful of B vitamins

  • Great for mental health, well-being, and overall positive effect on the brain due to containing tryptophan

    • Tryptophan = a precursor in the body to serotonin & norepinephrine which regulates the fight-or-flight response and can help manage stress levels

SWEET POTATOES

 

Give me all the sweet potatoes... mashed sweet potatoes, sweet potato chips, homemade fries, I'm not prejudice, I love them all. In my opinion, cinnamon + sea salt is a simple, amazing seasoning for any kind of sweet potato dish.

  • Full of vitamins + minerals

    • Vitamin D, C, magnesium, iron, potassium

    • One medium spud has 400% daily requirement of vitamin A

    • Choline = helps with sleep, memory, learning, muscle movement, chronic inflammation, cell membrane formation

  • Help manage arthritis due to Beta-carotene, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin B

  • Good for diabetics = naturally sweet, low glycemic index, and does not cause a spike in blood sugar

  • Orange color indicates they’re rich in carotenoids (think of carrots)

    • What are carotenoids? A precursor to vitamin A, so once in the body it converts to vitamin A

    • Benefits = strengthen eyesight, improve immunity, contain antioxidants that help prevent cancer & effects of aging

  • More fiber than common potatoes; not only are they easily digestible but they improve digestion

  • Lasting energy throughout the day because they’re a complex starch

  • Low in calories – one medium baked sweet potato with skin is only ~ 103 calories

  • Promotes fertility in women and is essential for hormone synthesis during pregnancy + lactation due to the iron (from plant sources) and vitamin A (as beta carotene)

SQUASH

 

I never bought squash up until this year because I wasn’t sure how to cook it or what to do with it – it’s actually super simple to cook though. Despite not eating much squash until this year, I love it so much that it made it into this list of (some of) my favorite foods.

  • Vitamin C, magnesium, and other antioxidants help neutralize free radicals that have been connected with premature aging, cancer, heart disease, and other illnesses

    • Free radicals = dangerous by-products of cellular metabolism

  • Prevent inflammatory conditions

  • Fat-free and low in calories

  • Protect against birth defects

  • Great for colon and prostate health

  • Improves

    • Lung health

    • Asthma symptoms

    • Vision

    • Skin

    • Immune system

    • Hair growth – due to beta-carotene content

    • Diabetic symptoms

  • Reduce / decreases

    • Ulcers

    • Parasites

    • Infections

    • Blood pressure

    • PMS – due to manganese

    • Symptoms of arthritis

    • Risk of anemia – due to regulating blood circulation

Who would've thought squash is so powerful??

BANANAS

 

Bananas AKA “nanners” as my mom calls them, have always been one of my favorites. They’re so versatile; with PB, on rice cakes, by themselves, for baking, I could go on and on.

  • Potassium = regulating heartbeat, stabilizes blood pressure, keeps brain alert, healthy kidney function

    • Low salt content + potassium = good recipe for high blood pressure

  • High in iron which is good for those with anemia / prone to anemia

  • Unripe bananas may improve insulin sensitivity

  • Excellent nutrition content for before, during, and after exercise

  • Contains vitamin B9 which helps body manufacture serotonin

    • Serotonin AKA “feel-good” neurotransmitter – it influences brain cells relating to positive mood, appetite, memory, and more

  • Contains tryptophan (just like turkey)

EGGS

 

Sidebar: Eggs are high in cholesterol, but cholesterol in DIET doesn’t necessarily mean cholesterol in BLOOD because the liver produces cholesterol every day, so when we eat more cholesterol, the liver produces less to even it out.

  • The cholesterol in eggs raises the good cholesterol (HDL) and people with higher levels of HDL have a lower risk of stroke, heart disease, and heart problems

  • Excellent source of choline (just like in sweet potatoes)

  • Lutein + Zeaxanthin = improve eye health, support the retina of the eye, can counteract some degenerative eye processes

  • Vitamins + minerals

    • A, E, D, B6, B12, iron, high source of selenium, copper, zinc + more

  • High quality protein containing all of the essential amino acids (just like turkey)

  • Reduced risk of breast cancer = research at Harvard University and University of North Carolina supports this

TAKE HOME MESSAGE

 

A lot of health issues can be improved, delayed, or even prevented by our diet. It’s obvious that ALL of these foods mentioned above are filled with different vitamins and minerals. So eat the rainbow (I don’t mean Skittles, even though they were a childhood fave of mine). You can save money and ditch the multi-vitamins if you just eat a wide, colorful variety of wholesome foods.

 

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