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All About Food: Our take on the healthy diet

April 25, 2012|By Elle Harrow and Terry Markowitz
  • Fresh strawberries sold at Peters Landing Farmers Market in Huntington Beach.
Fresh strawberries sold at Peters Landing Farmers Market… (KEVIN CHANG, HB…)

To us, it seems that many dietary supplements are falling out of fashion in favor of real food.

For example, every day some new study says that multivitamins are no competition for a healthy diet. Some supplements even have a deleterious effect when taken in large doses.

We have been collecting bits and pieces of current information on what constitutes a healthy diet, and we want to share them with you.

Most people think that chicken is a healthy food, but here's a dramatic piece of news: Arsenic, which is a carcinogen, has been found in chickens. How did it get there? The poultry industry uses it in feed to kill parasites.

This is not a problem with organic chicken. Everyone knows that organic is healthier and, in most cases, it is. However, organic doesn't necessarily mean safe, because arsenic has recently been detected in organic baby food.

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The new buzzwords are "anti-inflammatory," "glycemic index," "anti-oxidant" and "pro-biotic."

The anti-inflammatory dietis pretty much a newfangled way of referring to a Mediterranean diet. It may be helpful in preventing heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's, arthritis and other diseases.

Acute inflammation is a natural response of the human body to injury and is part of the healing process, but chronic inflammation is not good.

The focus of the diet is: (1) foods with good fats such as avocados, nuts, ground flax seed and fish, and healthy oils like olive and grapeseed; (2) fresh fruits and berries, vegetables rich in polyphenols, especially dark, green, leafy and cruciferous; (3) fish, seafood, legumes, nuts and seeds.

Foods to avoid are sugar, hydrogenated fats, white bread and flour. Sugar has even been labeled toxic in Gary Taubes' new book.

To be on ananti-inflammatory dietdoes not mean you can't eat some inflammatory foods. The idea is to balance those on a daily basis withanti-inflammatory foodso that you always come out on the "anti" side, of course the more, the better.

A great site is nutritiondata.self.com. It is an easy-to-use reference that will tell you the inflammatory index (both good and bad), the glycemic index, the calories and complete nutritional breakdown of every food you can name.

You may be surprised by what you find. We were when we discovered that steak is anti-inflammatory (although high in saturated fat) while chicken is mildly inflammatory. It's a complicated subject.

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