The world of diets, nutrition and exercise can be a difficult thing for even the well-educated, health conscious, consumer to navigate. Seemingly every day, new theories and studies, often with contradictory results, are presented in the media. For the nutrition professional, operating in this arena can be challenging because sifting through the data to determine the credibility of new studies, despite best efforts, oftentimes does not yield clear results.
This is why, as a Nutrition and Health Counselor, in my continual search for better ways to help my clients overcome their health challenges, I become very excited when I can confidently recommend something to all of my clients without a question in my mind.
And there are two things that I would like to confidently recommend in this article.
1. Buy Fresh and Local
2. Buy Organic
If you make just these two changes in your shopping habits, you will see remarkable changes in your health.
1. Buy Fresh and Local
The produce and even meats we find in the supermarket, have generally been sitting out on the shelves for days if not weeks, losing nutritional value with each passing day. I have heard it said that as a society we are overfed, yet undernourished, and unfortunately, in the work I do, I have found this to be true.
Too many of us get by (but just barely) on highly processed and refined foods – once derived from nutrient-packed whole foods—that have little to no vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals or other nutrients left in them by the time we pull them out of their packaging. One of the best ways to enhance health and wellness is to eat locally and sustainably grown fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs, dairy and other products. The higher nutrient content translates to happy well-nourished cells in your body, and greater vitality in your being.
You really are getting more nutrient “bang for you buck” when you buy local.
2. Buy Organic
There are many reasons to buy organic besides purely human health, but according to a Washington State University study, which looked at the nutritional differences between organic and conventional strawberries, it seems organic really is a better choice.
The researchers involved in the study tested 26 commercial strawberry operations in the state of California over a period of 2 years to reach the conclusion that organic strawberries had significantly higher concentrations of antioxidants and vitamin C.
Interestingly enough (and this was a surprise to the researchers) the researchers also found that the organic fruit lasted about a half-day longer than conventional.
These findings seem to corroborate the findings in a March 2008 review of published research on organic foods. According to the report, “New Evidence Confirms the Nutritional Superiority of Plant-Based Organic Foods”, which examined 97 published studies since 1980, “organic plant-based foods are, on average, more nutritious.”
In this review of the published studies, the researchers looked at the following
• Four measures of antioxidants (total phenolics, total antioxidant capacity, quercetin, kaempferol),
• Three precursors of key vitamins (Vitamins A, C, and E),
• Two minerals (potassium and phosphorous)
• Nitrates (higher levels are a nutritional disadvantage)
• Total protein.
What they found was that the organic foods within these matched pairs were nutritionally superior in 145 matched pairs, or 61% of the cases.
So, next time you are looking at the price tag, and trying to determine whether or not it’s worth it, think of the evidence, and remember that you really are getting your money’s worth with organic produce.
Here’s a delicious way to use locally available kale...
Kale and Shiitake Sautee
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 cloves crushed garlic
1 bunch kale, chopped
pinch of salt
1. Warm oil in pan on medium heat with minced garlic until aromas of garlic are released, about 2-3 minutes.
2. Add chopped shiitake mushrooms, stir-fry for 5 minutes.
3. Add chopped kale, stir-fry for a couple of minutes.
4. Add a splash of water and pinch of salt to pan, cover and let steam for 4 minutes.
Alternatively: Boil the kale in a separate pot for about five minutes, drain, and add into the sautee pan with the garlic and mushrooms after step 2.
Recipe Source: Institute for Integrative Nutrition