Weighty Matters

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Eating O’ the Greens

on March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone.  I don’t have a drop of Irish blood in me, so it’s not like this is a big celebratory day for me.  I’m also not a big fan of beer — green or otherwise, although I do love some good corned beef and cabbage.

My topic today comes courtesy of the letter A, as in antioxidants.  Last week, I had a regular deep cleaning and scaling of my teeth at the dentist’s office.  Thanks to genetics, I have a tendency toward problem gums so I go four times a year for this care.  It’s a constant battle at home, waged with good brushing habits, special solutions in my hydro-floss, flossing, etc.

On this trip, the hygenist also talked to me about fighting the fight on the nutritional front, too.   Now, I already knew that antioxidants are important in preventing or combatting a whole bunch of diseases and problems including heart disease and cancer.  I just never thought of them in terms of gum health.  Those free radicals that contribute to those problems are rotten little bastards and antioxidants help our atoms and cells wage war.

The office now offers a quick scan to determine the level of antioxidants in your body.  It takes five minutes while a machine scans your palm and produces the reading.  I guess it’s no surprise that my level is low.  Not only do I not eat much, but the foods that I eat are more focused on protein.  I need more colorful veggies and fruits in my diet to build up my antioxidant levels.

The challenge is how to accomplish the increase.  Smoothies help because I can get in fruit servings in pureed form which slides into my stomach without stuffing it.  Good soups also work too.  There are also numerous opportunities to incorporate good greens.  I’m trying to use more kale, baby spinach and other leafy greens.  I throw handfuls into the blender with the smoothies.  I sautee a little baby spinach for a vegetable side dish at dinner.  I also drink a couple of cups of green tea each day.

It’s important for me to remain cognizant of this aspect of my overall nutrition.  So, a couple of times this week,  I made egg salad and hummus wraps using romaine lettuce instead of tortillas.  Less carbs, more antioxidants!  I also drink a couple of cups of green tea every day.   In recent weeks, I started eating prunes every day to help with my digestive system.  Nice bonus to discover that they are high in antioxidants too!

I just made a pot of onion soup a la Bobby Deen.  Even though I got the recipe from a book, I incorporated additional things that I saw him do when he made a dish on his Cooking Channel show.  He used vegetable broth instead of beef broth to reduce the sodium and then added rainbow chard.  I didn’t have chard so I used a mix of greens including spinach, kale, arugula and so on.  The onions also add antioxidants.  The good thing about the greens is that they appear to have good concentrations of antioxidants but are less in volume.  Their flexibility lets me build them into my limited food quantity.

I can practically feel my antioxidant atoms charging around and sharing their extra electrons with those free radicals to build my body’s defense system.

In the info provided to me by my hygenist, I found this list of the Top 20 best antioxidant foods:

  1. Small red beans
  2. Wild blueberries
  3. Kidney beans
  4. Pinto beans
  5. Blueberries (I assume the non-wild kind.)
  6. Cranberries
  7. Artichokes
  8. Blackberries
  9. Prunes
  10. Raspberries
  11. Strawberries
  12. Red Delicious and Granny Smith apples,
  13. Pecans
  14. Sweet cherries
  15. Black plums
  16. Russet potatoes
  17. Black beans
  18. Plums
  19. Gala apples
  20. Walnuts

There are a whole bunch of other things like antioxidant vitamins — Vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E;  Vitamin cofactors and minerals including Coenzyme Q10, Selenium, Zinc and Manganese; Carotenoids; and Flavanoid polyphenolics.

Can I do all of this all of the time?  Oh hell no!  Can I do more of them more consistently in my daily food plan.  Certainly!

That’s the plan.  Just like I’ve reduced the amount of sugar, bad fats and carbs in my diet, I can make choices that include good, healthy, disease-fighting elements.  I love many of the foods on that Top 20 list already.   The question is whether I can physically ingest enough each day to make a difference.  My challenge for the next few months is to do what I can on a daily basis without overeating and while still getting in my required protein.  When I return to the dentist, we’ll repeat the scan and see if my numbers have improved.

3 responses to “Eating O’ the Greens

  1. Hope says:

    Kidney and pinto beans also have some decent protein in them. Win-win! 😀

  2. Skye says:

    Interesting that the top 20 list doesn’t include any of the greens. I already love many of the foods on it, but the berries are so seasonal (unless you live down south and get many of them from Central and South Amercia — which I won’t be in a couple of weeks time) that you can only get good ones in the summer.

    Good luck on incorporating these foods into your diet. I think I’ll try to incorporate what I can into my diet. I wonder if the dried version of some of the fruits count: I use dried cranberries in my oatmeal every morning!

  3. Susanne says:

    I think it’ll be fun to incorporate these into your diet. I’m bad on the fruits (except for apples, but one should have variety), so I’ll have to smarten up. Maybe it’s time to start the smoothies again in the morning. Hmmmm. Out comes the blender…

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