Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Healthy Food Choices for Life

Last fall when I checked to see if a local library carried my book, one of the librarians asked if I'd be interested in giving a talk. At the time I was planning a talk and slide show for this event in Snohomish, so I proposed a talk about healthy foods.

I've followed healthy whole food topics since I discovered whole-wheat bread as a teenager. That may sound funny to some people today, but Mom never bought whole-wheat bread when I was young. She said it was the kind of food she'd grown up eating during the Depression and it reminded her of being poor when she was young and maybe she was looking to escape her past, but when I first got my driver's license, I'd sneak off to this hole-in-the-wall mom-and-pop health food store where I carefully look over oils, nut butters and I shamelessly spent my weekly allowance on carrot juice, heavy frut and nut muffins and raw milk. I'm not really obsessive about food like the organic-only-locally-procured-gluten-sugar-dairy-corn-and-soy-free crowd, but I've always felt at home in natural food stores (the mom and pop types) and I love farmers' markets even more. And most of the foods I eat today happen to be fresh and locally grown.

The event tomorrow evening at 7 pm at the Lynnwood Library features 10 of the healthiest foods to add to your diet. Of course I'll add a few Northwest farmer stories, and I decided to add a slide show since the one in Snohomish was so well-received.

Here are three foods I'll mention and a few of the slides that I'll bring to the show:

Apples have an amazing antioxidant content that inhibits cancer cells and helps lower cholesterol. According to this study, amount of phytochemicals varies among apple varieties with the bright red types containing more phytonutrients than green apples. Also apple peels contain many unique nutrients, so eating the whole apple is a healthier option than sipping fiber-free apple juice.

I snapped this photo at Bellewood Acres last fall at Whatcom County Farm day.

Carrots aren't just for your eyes like your mom may have told you in a lame attempt to lure you to try them as a child. With 87% water content, carrots still have the highest amount of carotene of all vegetables. Lutein, lycopene and alpha and beta--these powerful antioxidants reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. At Carrot Museum website, I learned that most of the nutrients in carrots were just below the skin, yet another reason to leave the skin on and pass on those baby peeled carrots in big bags. These Purple Haze carrots made a perfect picture at Garden Treasures in Arlington.

Berries are also on the list because no self-respecting healthy food list would be complete without them. While people often mention blueberries when asked to name nutritious fruits, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, huckleberries and cranberries all contain unique compounds that compliment each other. One component in strawberries was found to be helpful in memory retention; raspberries contain bone-building vitamin K; and cranberries (blueberry relatives) contain components that prevent E-coli from clinging to the cells of the urinary tract. This colorful photo was snapped at the Pennington Farms booth at the Medford farmers' market in southern Oregon.

These are just a few tidbits to arouse your curiousity about the foods you eat, but the most fascinating thing I discovered while compiling this list of ten foods was that a variety of fruits and vegetables in the diet enhance each other. Though one study in 2010 implied that eating fruits and vegetables won't protect people from getting cancer, another article about carrots and broccolis revealed these two vegetables act on different pathways to protect cells from free-radical cancer causing cells. And a berry study suggested that antioxidants in blueberries were enhanced by phytochemicals in raspberries, implying a diverse diet is as healthy for us as a diverse sustainable farm is for the earth.

My Cooking Assistant (and oldest basset Badger) yawn over my gushing enthusiasm for healthy fresh food. My Assistant isn't really lazy, he just prefers to get back to the real fun--food photos. Hope to see you at the event.


Mallory said...

Oh, rats! I missed it! I worked too late to attend anyway--but I wish I could have heard your talk! Any chance you might share more of your slideshow and 10 healthiest foods on this lovely blog anytime soon?

ddzeller said...

It was such a fun event (love the topic) and I'm sorry you missed it, but what a great idea, I will share more in future blogs.