7 Foods A Dietitian Wants You To Eat

greens1Don’t eat pasta, avoid all the IPAs, stop going out for fast food. WAHHH WAHHH WAHHHH who wants to hear about all the food you can’t have?! Not this gal. It’s always better to focus on what you can and should add to your diet and eventually all the good will crowd out the bad.  Here it is friends, 7 foods a dietitian wants you to eat.

Dark Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens are some of our most nutrient-dense foods meaning they have a TON of vitamins and minerals for very little calories. They are packed with vitamins A, C, and K, and contain smaller amounts of our B vitamins and vitamin E. They are also a great non-dairy source of calcium and contain appreciable amounts of manganese, choline, iron, copper, and magnesium. Not only are they full of micronutrients they also contain phytonutrients like carotenoids and phenolics. These phytonutrients work as antioxidants in our body fighting off free radicals and the damage they cause which can lead to a whole host of chronic diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s to name a few. I honestly don’t care what kind you are eating as long as you’re eating them. Some options are mustard, turnip, collard, dandelion and beet greens, kale, swiss chard, bok choy, cabbage, spinach, arugula, and watercress. Broccoli and Brussels sprouts even count Cooking is as easy as sautéing these guys with butter, salt, and pepper and finish with lemon juice.

Eating liver is basically like eating a whole food version of a multivitamin because one of the liver’s many functions is nutrient storage. A 3 oz serving of beef liver gives you more than your daily needs of vitamin A, vitamin B12, riboflavin, and copper and is also a great source of niacin, thiamin, vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic acid, iron, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, and selenium. It’s far more nutrient dense than the muscle meat we typically eat. Even if you aren’t ready to dive headfirst into liver and onions you can always blenderize liver and add it to meatballs, meatloaf, burgers, or Sassy’s Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf Muffins. (Try the meatloaf muffins, they are contest winning!)

Fatty Fish
Fatty fish including anchovies, salmon, mackerel, whitefish, sardines, tuna, herring, and trout are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential fatty acid meaning the body is unable to make it and it is therefore essential we obtain it from our food. We need omega-3s for our brain development and function and they are precursors for anti-inflammatory compounds in our body. To learn more about the dreaded inflammation check out Nutrition Genius Radio Episode #30. The average American consumes less than half of the recommended dose of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. To make sure you’re getting enough of this good stuff bump your fish intake up to twice weekly.

Herbs and Spices
Not only are herbs and spices packed full of nutrients but they make food taste much more flavorful and interesting. Think broccoli tastes bad? You’ve obviously never cooked it in salt, pepper, garlic powder, and butter. Roasted chicken and potatoes seem boring? Add rosemary and dill. Scared and unsure of how to use spices? Try Jesus’ Tears Curried Chicken, it will take you to another world. Similarly to fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices also pack a wicked phytochemical punch and have been found to decrease inflammation, act as an antioxidant, and some even have antibacterial and antifungal properties.

Whole Eggs
I don’t think there is anything that drives a real food dietitian more insane than someone saying they had an egg white omelet for breakfast. THE NUTRIENTS ARE IN THE YOLK. Seriously, look at this yolk to white comparison. Crazy, right?! So eat the whole egg which will give you omega-3 fatty acids and over 20 vitamins and minerals. Eggs are one of the best sources of choline which is required for the structure of cell membranes, functionality of the nervous system, and replication of DNA. We’re egg enthusiasts here at TNG and have all the egg recipes for you- Everything but the… Egg Frittata, Savory Oatmeal with Eggs, Smoked Salmon Egg Frittata, and Bacon Wrapped Egg Muffins.

Tea is also full of phytonutrients and has the added benefit of adding compounds from plants that you don’t typically eat. Research has show green tea has anti-cancer, anti-obesity, anti-atherosclerotic, anti-diabetic, anti-bacterial and anti-viral effects and herbal teas have shown many different benefits depending on the plant components involved. Not only do they have the above health benefits but some teas such as chamomile, lavender, and peppermint may help with sleep which would give you even more of a health improvement.

Fermented Foods
Fermentation is the process of bacteria converting carbohydrate into acid, gases, or alcohol. These foods contain bacteria typically referred to as probiotics which help with digestion, nutrient absorption, and maintenance of the immune system. Research is also looking at our intestinal bacteria for the beneficial role it can play in attenuating inflammation, playing a preventative role in heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease and allergies, and improving mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Not only do the bacteria contribute to our health but they break down components in the food that our bodies can’t and give us additional vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and enzymes. Some of our favorite fermented foods are kombucha, sauerkraut, and kimchi. Stay tuned for a kombucha recipe soon!

Which of these foods do you need to add to your diet? What super foods are you already eating? Let us know in the comments below!

xo pearl2





7 thoughts on “7 Foods A Dietitian Wants You To Eat”

  1. Dark leafy greens do not contain vit. A. They contain precursors — carotenoids — to this vitamin. We convert plant forms of these vitamins fairly inefficiently. Our ability to convert these carotenoids into the form of Vit. A that we can use varies, depending on the type of plant, how much vit. A we already have in our bodies, how old we are (kids are much better converters than adults) and a few other factors (google the acronymn “SLAMENGHI” for the more of the technical details). There’s little guesswork involved when you eat pre-formed vit. A from eggs.

    Another example is iron. The plant form of iron is non-heme iron, i.e., iron that cannot transport hemoglobin, which is essential for red blood cells. The human body can’t convert non-heme iron to heme iron.

    A third example is calcium. Plants vary widely in providing calcium that the human body can use. Collards and turnip greens have lots of bio-available calcium, but kale, swiss chard, and spinach don’t (http://bit.ly/1LhRtyj).

    In general, the human body does a poor job of converting plant nutrients to a bio-available form. That’s why we eat animals and animal products; they’ve done the conversion for us.

    Moreover, if you have digestive issues, e.g., bloating, gassiness, IBS, Crohn’s Disease, eating large amounts of leafy greens will likely aggravate your problems because of the high amount of insoluble fiber in these foods (http://bit.ly/1JlIHSR).

    I’m not anti-vegetable — Most of us should eat some daily, and I do. But they’re not nearly the nutritional powerhouses that animal products are.

    1. I apologize for the delay in my response, I am JUST seeing this now!
      You are so right that dark leafy greens contain carotenoids and not preformed vitamin A and I certainly do not disagree with your points about absorption factors (you are well educated, my friend!) I say much of this for the benefit of other readers as it seems you know your stuff. Preformed vitamin A comes in three main forms, retinol, retinal, and retinoic acid. Previtamin A refers to the carotenoids. The reason they all fall under the header of “vitamin A” is because they have the ability to be converted to vitamin A in the body. Each of the different carotenoids have different conversion abilities and it appears as though beta carotene has the highest ability. Within the intestinal cell the body can cleave beta carotene at it’s central double bond into two molecules of retinal. This does, of course, depend on the activity of the enzyme that does the cleaving as well as the things you mentioned. (1)
      Heme iron, found in animal products, is much better absorbed than non-heme iron which is found in both animal products and plants. Non-heme iron has a tendency to bind with other things in the GI tract so we can’t absorb it and rather we excrete it. Non-heme iron is in the ferric (Fe3+) state and by the work of ascorbic acid, a form of vitamin C which is plentiful in dark leafy greens, it can be converted to the more absorbable ferrous (Fe2+) state. Additionally, because heme-iron and non-heme iron are two different molecules they do NOT compete for absorptive mechanisms. By including both types of food in the diet you are increasing your chances of getting this nutrient which many people are deficient in. Once absorbed into the enterocyte, iron splits with heme by the work of heme oxygenase and inorganic iron is released. So, within the intestinal cell, heme iron and non heme iron are the same and they then compete for utilization which could be storage or transport in the blood stream. Bottom line: heme iron IS more absorbable than non-heme, but both provide a benefit to the body. [2]
      Rock on with your thoughts on calcium, the differences in absorption are dependent on a whole host of things including the food source, other things eaten at the same time, and vitamin D status.
      Everyone is different and therefore the foods one should work to include (or avoid) will be different depending upon their specific circumstances. This article is providing my thoughts on foods I typically see people lacking in their diets.
      I’m sure if you are a frequent visitor to TNG you know we are meat enthusiasts and agree they are nutritional powerhouses. That being said, I think many people have plenty of animal products in their diets albeit perhaps not as much variety as we would like. I think many of our readers struggle more with incorporating sufficient vegetables into their diet, particularly dark leafy greens which can be bitter if not cooked well, which is why I included them in this list.
      I’m glad that in the end we are both agreeing upon the same thing- eat real food in the vegetable AND animal form. Thanks for your comments, keeping us on your toes, and support of TNG!

  2. My comment’s been waiting for approval for awhile now. Do you have substantive objections to approving it?

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