Health Alert 110
You can hardly get through a day without hearing another warning. Something in the food you eat is dangerous. One by one all your favorite foods make it to the taboo list. But all this negative reporting can’t change one simple fact – you have to eat something.
The good news is that some of the most maligned foods are actually the most natural and healthiest foods you can eat. The media has taken a few avoidable potential problems and over reported and dramatized the concerns. This result has been unfounded generalized fear and avoidance.
Today I am going to tell about the healthy but “taboo” foods; eggs, red meat, wild fish, dairy and nuts. Let me show you how with a few simple caveats, you can and should eat them without fear or guilt.
* Still, (and Always Will Be) the Most Important Nutrient *
The common link between these foods is high quality protein. Proteins are the building blocks of life on earth. Quality protein is your single most important nutritional concern. You can make carbohydrate from protein and fat. You can make fat from protein and carbohydrate. But protein is composed of 20 amino acids, 8 of which you can’t make and must consume. To be optimally healthy, you must consume all 8 of these essential amino acids every day.
We can rate proteins by how complete they are. A complete protein contains all of the essential amino acids in the correct ratios. As you can see from the following chart the taboo foods have the very best protein ratings.1
Plants can provide protein, but none provide truly complete protein. The closest is soy. It has all 8 essential amino acids but not in the ratio your body needs. All complete proteins come from animal sources – one of many important reasons why you need them for optimal health.
* 5 Maligned Superfoods *
Eggs do not cause heart disease. In fact, there was never any evidence they did. They don’t even raise your blood cholesterol. Of course eggs contain cholesterol. The developing embryo needs it to produced sex hormones – and so do you.
Egg yolks have all required fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K), iron and heart healthy Omega-3 fat. The whites have all the water soluble B vitamins and are the source of highest quality protein on the face of the planet. Eggs are the perfect food. I eat them every day. I buy free range organic eggs to avoid some of the problems with the modern poultry industry. So enjoy your omelet.
• Red Meat
I consider beef to be among the most nutritious foods. Like eggs, the protein is complete. Red meat is a good source of creatine. Creatine makes you stronger, faster and more energetic. Red meat is the best source of CoQ10. CoQ10 is the cure for much of the heart disease in this country. It’s also one of the best sources of vitamin E, iron, niacin and vitamin B6. Animal products are the only good source of vitamin B12.
But doesn’t beef cause heart disease? No. Polluted, adulterated, diseased animal fat products of modern industry do. The key to eating healthy beef is choosing naturally fed beef. It has a different kind of fat.
Omega-3 fats are the good fats, where omega-6s are less desirable. Grain fed beef has a ratio of 20:1 Omega-6 to Omega-3 fats. Grass fed has a ratio of less than 1:1. Amazingly, grass fed beef has a better ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats than wild fish. My favorite vendor of grass fed beef is Grassland Beef. You can find Grassland Beef at http://grassfedbeef.2ya.com.
If you choose grain fed, pick the leanest cuts and trim off any excess fat.
You’ve heard fish can be a source of mercury and other toxins. However, you can minimize these risks. You can enjoy the benefit of this rich source of omega-3s.
To minimize the modern toxins, choose wild Alaskan salmon, mackerel, trout, or sardines. Chose wild over farm-raised and small over large fish. The highest levels of mercury are in swordfish, shark and king mackerel and tuna.
Dairy has been criticized as “liquid meat,” but I see that nickname as quite positive. Some people have milk allergies. Other can’t digest the lactose. But for the rest of us cheese and whole milk are a great source of calcium, protein and Vitamin D. Raw, organic milk is best. A few ounces a day of hormone free natural cheeses is a part of the heart healthy Mediterranean diet I’ve told you about before.
Nuts get a bad rap because of their high fat content. But nuts are rich in the heart healthy kind of fat-monounsaturated. Walnuts and almonds among the most nutritious with omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, fiber, potassium and other minerals. Other good choices are pecans, macadamias, cashews and Brazilian nuts. Enjoy them as a snack instead of chips or crackers. Keep in mind that peanuts are not nuts but tubers. Peanuts have a less healthy fatty acid profile.
Al Sears, MD
1. Mc Ardle, W., Katch, F., and Katch, V. Sports & Exercise Nutrition, Lipencott Williams & Wilkins, 1999: 31.