This Review Originally Appeared in "Exercise for Men Only" written by Andy Troy, C.S.C.S.
At 10 a.m. each day, it’s wise to have a little something to keep those metabolic fires burning. Growing up, I always heard how bad it was to snack between meals. We now know that whether it’s good or bad depends on the snack and how much of it we cat. Since five smaller meals a day arc recommended by most health and fitness experts, a healthful snack at mid-morning can be a positive thing. Here are some good choices.
Lowfat yogurt is a great source of calcium. The types of bacterial cultures yogurt contains can help strengthen your immune system and also do wonders for your digestive tract. Before you buy yogurt, check for the Live and Active Cultures (LAC) seal. Issued by the National Yogurt Association (NYA), this seal shows that the product contains at least 100 million cultures per gram at the time of manufacture. For extra flavor and health benefits, try adding some fresh fruit like blueberries or raspberries.
The health benefits that nuts provide have been well documented. Studies have shown that you can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease between 15-50 percent by eating just a handful of nuts five times a week. Nuts are also an excellent source of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant. Good choices include the following:
A half-cup of walnuts: Walnuts have been shown to fight heart disease by raising your level of HDL. They are also rich in the antioxidant glutathione.
A half-cup of almonds: These tasty little kernels lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
Several Brazil nuts: Brazil nuts are high in the key antioxidant selenium, which strengthens the immune system and helps fight cancer. They are also a great source of thiamin.
Seeds are another snacking choice chock full of nutrients. Try the following choices:
Pumpkin: Long a fixture in many folk remedies, pumpkin seeds are now being taken seriously by the medical community. They contain a wealth of essential minerals, including magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorous. They have also shown promise in combating a number of serious health conditions such as heart disease, prostate cancer and arteriosclerosis.
Sunflower: Containing high levels of two key antioxidants, vitamin E and selenium, sunflower seeds also have an assortment of B vitamins and important minerals. The type of vegetable protein found in sunflower seeds may be effective in combating high blood pressure. Keep in mind, when it comes to seeds and nuts, it’s way too easy to eat way too many. They taste good, but contain plenty of empty calories. It is recommended that you limit your intake of these snacks to 1-2 oz. per day.
Whole-wheat pita: These Frisbec-like snacks contain no cholesterol or saturated fat and are rich in selenium. They are also high in insoluble fiber, a key weapon in battling colon cancer.
Rice cakes: They don’t have much flavor and look like coasters, but when snack time rolls around rice cakes are an excellent choice. They are filling, low in calories and many brands are high in fiber. Go with the whole grain variety whenever possible.
Fruit is loaded with heart-friendly soluble fiber and cancer-fighting antioxidants. Here are some great choices to consider:
Cantaloupe: Some experts consider cantaloupe to be the most nutritious fruit of all.
It is rich in both vitamins A and C, and is filled with a high concentration of digestive enzymes. Cantaloupe also contains a substance called myoinositol that is believed to be a key weapon in the battle against insomnia, anxiety and arteriosclerosis.
Bananas: There are several reasons why this tasty fruit is an ally in the anti-aging battle. The vitamin B-6 that a banana contains helps to prevent insomnia. This fruit also contains the amino acid tryptophan, a precursor of serotonin. Research has consistently shown that elevated serotonin levels help keep depression at bay. Bananas are high in potassium yet low in sodium, a combination that is helpful in preventing strokes. They also contain significant quantities of vitamin C, magnesium and fiber.
Apples: These are great sources of potassium and both soluble and insoluble fiber. Apples that are not organically grown are often waxed, making peeling them a smart choice. If you buy organically grown apples, eat the skin. Much of the vitamin C is located just beneath the skin, which also contains lots of insoluble fiber.
Oranges: A rich source of vitamin C, folic acid, potassium and magnesium. Peel them, but eat the pith between the rind and fruit. It is filled with bioflavonoids that improve the body’s utilization of vitamin C.
Grapefruit: This fruit is rich in pectin, a type of soluble fiber. Pectin has demonstrated the ability to improve glucose tolerance and reduce both blood pressure and levels of LDL. Pink and red grapefruit are high in lycopene, a substance with antioxidant — properties. Lycopene helps to keep skin from aging by countering the damaging effects of ultraviolet light, and is believed to have the ability to shrink tumors and reduce the risk of macular degeneration.
Grapes (red and purple): The synergy of 20 different antioxidants enables grapes to fight aging in a way that no pill can. There is a great deal of evidence to support the cancer-fighting properties of both red and purple grapes. Research has shown that they contain chemicals that keep cancer cells from spreading.
Strawberries: These sweet red berries are high in vitamin C, calcium, phosphorous and potassium. They also contain compounds called salycilates, which are natural painkillers, and ellagic acid, a substance that has demonstrated antioxidant properties.
Vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals and should make up a high percentage of our diet. They are also a key weapon in the fight against colon cancer. Vegetables, like fruit, are high in both antioxidants and fiber and low in fat. Here are some good choices:
Carrots: These decrease your risk of developing cancer. This is due in part to their high concentration of beta carotene, a key antioxidant.
Celery: High in fiber, vitamin C and potassium. The fact that you burn more calories just by eating and digesting celery than the actual vegetable contains makes it the perfect diet food. An added perk for men: Celery is said to cause men’s levels of pheromones, compounds thought to attract women, to rise.
Bell peppers: Whether red, green or yellow, all bell peppers are a great source of both beta carotene and vitamin C. They also help block carcinogens.
Broccoli: A potent cancer fighter that is high in vitamins A and C, broccoli is also a great source of calcium. Like other cruciferous vegetables, it is particularly valuable in fighting colon cancer.
Cauliflower: The key nutrients that are abundant in cauliflower include selenium, folate and glutathione. This combination helps fight cancer and _ arteriosclerosis, strengthens the immune system and regulates blood pressure.