Environmentalists and health enthusiasts agree that itâ€™s mutually beneficial for both the earth and our bodies when we eat real food.
Heavily processed foods like Twinkies, hot dogs, and even supposedly healthy (but sugar-dense) granola bars from the grocery store can add more toxins to your body than can be efficiently expelled and too few nutrients to properly function.Â Although there is the option of taking a daily multivitamin and then some, experts agree that nutrients are best processed by the body when eaten, not swallowed in a capsule.
Environmentalists add that eating closer to the earth with a heavily plant-based diet is less stressful on the food industry, Americaâ€™s farmers, and the global market than eating meat or imported goods.Â In fact, livestock accounts for 18% of the worldâ€™s greenhouse gas emissions, but Americans eat the equivalent of three quarter-pounders a day!Â If Americans cut just one hamburger out of our daily diet, the environmental impact would be tremendousâ€”like taking half a million cars off the roadâ€”and our cardiovascular systems would thank us.
Eating real food from the farmersâ€™ market or the produce section of our grocery stores can improve our health and our planet.Â Admittedly, some of us donâ€™t always enjoy a raw salad, and thatâ€™s the only form of vegetables besides fried pickles we know.Â Lauren Slayton of The Daily Green suggests the following superfoodsâ€”foods densely packed with all kinds of nutrientsâ€”to help you meet your daily dietary requirements without resorting to a cabinet full of vitamin bottles.Â Look up recipes online that use at least one the following:
- Spinach, kale, and mixed greens are a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, and manganese.
- Avocados contain vitamin E and C, folate, magnesium, potassium, and copper.Â Theyâ€™re also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids (the friendly fat that your body canâ€™t make on its own but benefits from).
- Quinoa contains vitamin B6, folate, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and zinc. Â It’s also a great source of dietary fiber–not to mention that it’s also gluten-free. Â What’s more is that Quinoa is also a complete protein source which is rare for plant foods.
- Pumpkin seeds, which can make a healthy and tasty snack from the store or roasted from your Halloween project, contain vitamin K, iron, magnesium, and zinc.
- Salmon, when fished sustainably, contain vitamin B6 and B12, niacin, potassium, and selenium without the guilt.
Although switching to a â€œreal foodâ€ diet can be challenging at first, try these small steps to get going in the right direction.
- Make it a point to eat greens and green vegetables twice a day.Â Look for colors in the produce aisleâ€”there are nutrients in the skins of blueberries and the orange color of carrots that make them worth your time.
- Eat 2-3 fruits a day.Â Avocados and red peppers (yes, they are fruits) are great superfoods.
- Have Â¼ cup of nuts or seeds once a day in lieu of an energy bar or unhealthy snack.
- Replace the white bread or white rice on your dish with the fiber- and protein-rich whole grain varieties.
- Tone down the red meat consumption and opt for leaner meats like turkey or go vegan and eat tofu.
Bio: Alexis Bonari is currently a resident blogger at College Scholarships, where recently she’s been researching scholarships for low income students as well as Pepsi scholarships. Whenever this WAHM gets some free time she enjoys doing yoga, cooking with the freshest organic in-season fare, and practicing the art of coupon clipping.