We seldom think about the food that we put on our platter. The concept of healthy food often varies from one person to another. A diet, which is perfect with adequate nutrients for one, may not seem so for another.
Human beings are a diverse species in terms of their choices and preferences. We often practice dietary patterns that are poles apart yet have the common goal to achieve a healthy diet for us.
Then what should we include in our palate?
Paleo or Vegan?
A paleo diet excludes grains and legumes and includes meat. On the other hand, a vegan diet excludes meat and other animal produce and includes grains and legumes.
You might think, are both healthy diets and have similar benefits on humans?
Both the diets, when planned well, can be beneficial for you. Their contents are different. Yet, both diets help you avoid processed food and include a lot of natural and fresh food.
A custom diet as per your taste and physiology is possible, keeping the above as the foundation. You can add
- carbohydrates (whole grains, starchy root vegetables, fruit),
- high-quality fats (nuts, fatty fish, seeds, olive oil, avocados), and
- plant- or animal-based protein (legumes, dairy, soy, lean meat, fish, eggs, poultry).
To achieve an optimal health goal, you may have various combinations of food that include phytochemicals, vitamins, fiber, and minerals.
Our bodies need protein, fat, and carbohydrates. If you are looking for a ‘magic’ combination, you may never get the same. But, what you can do is avoid any extremes. Researches have shown that stressing whole food over processed can make all the difference rather than opting for a low-carb or low-fat food.
The risks associated with processed and junk food are the increased chances of obesity and related diseases. WHO cites in its report the growing obesity epidemic and the increase in coronary heart diseases and diabetes because of our food choices.
Spice It Up!
Spices and herbs, apart from making your food tasty, also helps boost your health. Nutritionists and dieticians often recommend adding herbs and spices to your meals to help your body get the benefits from natural sources.
Plant leaves, bark, seeds, roots, berries – all are part of spices that infuse flavors in our food. Data suggest that these are also full of health benefits.
So next time when you visit the market, do consider adding a few of the following to your basket:
Turmeric – The yellow spice, which is very popular in Asian cuisine. There has been a lot of discussion on turmeric vs curcumin and which is better for the body. The truth is curcumin is a naturally occurring component of turmeric. Curcumin is an antioxidant that helps ease inflammation.
This property makes both curcumin and turmeric help provide the health benefits of diminishing osteoarthritis, obesity, low-density lipoproteins in the heart, and diabetes.
Cardamom – A sweet and pungent spice, with high contents of magnesium and zinc, can help comfort your upset stomach.
Cinnamon – It is a spice that can act as a natural sweetener (with fewer calories) for your food. Studies also suggest that cinnamon can fight bacteria and inflammation, lower blood sugar levels for diabetic people.
Chili peppers – Capsaicin, a compound found in chili peppers, helps add that differentiator to your food. It is also the reason that enables chili peppers to keep blood vessels healthy and boost metabolism.
Ginger, with its antioxidant properties, can help you with an upset stomach. Garlic with a compound- allicin, can lower heart disease chances and control high cholesterol and blood sugar. Cumin, one of the most popular ingredients of Indian cuisine, is a rich source of iron. It can help you curb your extra body mass with a spoonful a day.
The Supplement Dilemma!
Studies show that many adults and children in the US take more than one dietary supplement.
Dietary supplements range from vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs, and many other ingredients. They are available in capsules, tablets, drinks, gummies, and energy bars.
The dietary supplement product label has information on dose per serving, active ingredients, and others (like flavorings, fillers, and binders). You should check these before you pick a pack of supplements for your consumption.
Though there are some supplements that can help you cope with the falling nutrient levels, they can never replace your regular diet. The quantity of administration of these supplements is critical excess can lead to issues in the body, like
- Too much vitamin D or kava can harm your kidneys,
- Drug interactions reduce the efficacy of pills (for chemotherapy, birth control, HIV or AIDS, post-transplant medications),
- Increased levels of Vitamin K leads to delay in blood clotting,
- Excess calcium can settle in your arteries.
So, excess of anything is bad for your body. When you make your dietary goals, keep in mind the need for a balanced diet. It should not only have the right set of nutrients, needed for your body but also should help tackle its various issues.
Design a palate as per your taste, but don’t forget your health either.