The Institute of Food Technologists is a nonprofit scientific society, and they recently released a list of 14 foods that they believe can be called true "health foods" because of the science and research that support the health claims associated with these foods. Here's the current list of 14 and the health benefits associated with consumption of these foods:
Barley is a grain and according to the IFT there are currently 11 studies to support increased consumption of barley products. The health benefits associated with eating barley include lowering total cholesterol and LDL, or the bad cholesterol. Remember that when consuming grains, the less processed the grains, the better.
Quinoa and buckwheat are two unique whole grains, and according to the IFT review, consumption of seeds and sprouts from these two whole grain choices means you are getting the benefit of polyphenols, compounds associated with health benefits. If you need to eat "gluten-free" then you can safely consume breads made with these 2 ingredients.
Brown rice, when substituted for white rice and other "white grain products" can help to lower your risk of diabetes type 2. Another rice choice that is recommended as a healthy choice is black rice, which you can buy easily at local ethnic supermarkets.
Rye is another whole grain and its health benefits are supported by research. In fact, rye bread has a lower glycemic index, meaning that when you eat and digest this kind of bread, your insulin response is more modulated. It also satiates, so it's a great bread to include at breakfast or lunch.
Walnut consumption is now associated with a reduction in cardiovascular disease risk, especially in diabetes type 2 patients.
Almonds have been highlighted as a healthy food for some time and a 2007 study showed that a specific portion of almonds (about 300 calories) can be consumed on a regular basis and not stimulate weight gain. The fiber content of almonds may help to minimize the weight gain risk associated with consumption of higher fat foods.
Hazelnuts contain a number of anti-oxidants in the hazelnut skin, so when consumed as part of a healthy diet, make sure to eat the whole (unprocessed) hazelnut.
Pistachios have been touted as a health food for some time, and dieticians love the fact that a portion equals 49 medium sized nuts. A recent study looked at its anti-inflammatory properties.
Pecans are a great addition to salads, fish, muffins and desserts and the vitamin E in pecans may delay progression of motor neuron degeneration.
Fruits and Vegetables
Blueberries (whole) have lots of fiber and one six week study showed that when consumed daily (in smoothies) these berries improved insulin sensitivity in obese non-diabetic patients and in insulin resistant patients.
Pomegranates (juice) in one early study appeared to prevent some anticipated complications in kidney disease patients on dialysis. It should be noted that juice manufacturers make a number of health claims that have not all been vetted by double blind substantial research studies.
Black raspberries were noted in one 2010 study to prevent intestinal tumor development in mice. These berries are quite high in fiber.
Broccoli and cauliflower are cruciferous vegetables that may help to reduce the risk of aggressive prostate cancer.
Tomatoes are typically associated with their lycopene content, and studies suggest that consumption of cooked (with a bit of olive oil) tomatoes may help to lower the risk of prostate cancer. A different study seems to suggest that daily consumption of 2 servings of canned tomato products daily may help to lower blood pressure.
It should be noted that a recent study on fruit and vegetable impact, with regards to reduction of mortality rate from heart disease, suggests that closer to 8 to 10 servings, and not 5 servings, are needed to appreciate the health impact and risk reduction.
The takeaway message of this blog should be:
(a) There are a number of foods you can consume that will help to support good health
(b) These healthy foods are tasty and can be added to home-cooked recipes in a variety of ways
(c) What you choose to eat or NOT to eat can impact your health
(d) When you make food choices that have health claims, you should investigate the science behind those claims. Sometimes the research is just not there.
Published On: February 22, 2011