Most Healthful Foods

by Catherine Haug, September 18, 2011

Dr Mercola posted an article on his health website this past week: Ten Best Foods to Eat Frequently for a Terrific Health Kick…. I found this interesting, but prefer a few minor changes and two additions (in my opinion). Here’s the list (see Mercola’s article for why these are so healthful):

Mercola’s Top 10 Healthful Foods

#1: Organic Pastured Eggs, Preferably Raw (or cooked soft)

I’ve written about the health and environmental benefits of eggs from hens raised in pasture; see Banning Battery Cages for HensReport on Organic Eggs,  and Eggs – A Buyers Guide.

#2: Kale

This member of the cabbage family is delicious braised in a little oil with a little water added at the end for steam (this cooking method helps with absorption of kale’s minerals). It’s also good cut or torn up in a salad with an oil-rich drssing.

#3: Organic kefir or yogurt from grass-fed dairy animals

To this I would also add raw (not pasteurized milk). In general, heat treated milk destroys all enzymes and many of the vitamins, plus makes the minerals not available for absorption. Fermenting the milk, as in kefir and yogurt, restores some enzymes and vitamins and may also make the minerals more bio-available.

These are best if plain, unsweetened. You can add fruit if you like it sweet.

#4: Raw Organic almonds

NOTE: from 2007 until August 2010, ‘raw’ in the US didn’t mean truly raw, as all almonds then grown in the US, even Organic almonds, were required to be ‘pasteurized’ (treated not with heat but with propylene oxide gas, a racing fuel). But luckily, a US Court of Appeals overturned that USDA regulation, so we can once again purchase raw almonds.

#5: Wild Alaskan Salmon

I would add wild salmon from some Canadian rivers as well, because these waters are relatively pristine. Wild is important, because farm-raised salmon are lacking in some nutrients including astaxanthin, and have elevated levels of Omega-6 fats at the expense of Omega-3 fats (DHA and EPA) present in wild salmon.

Salmon is not very high up in the food chain, and for this reason is relatively low in mercury contamination, making it one of your best fish choices.

#6: Avocado

Avocados are an excellent source of raw, unprocessed mono-unsaturated fat, but also provide vitamins (E, B, K and folic acid), potassium (more than twice that in banana), and fiber according to Mercola. The fats in avocado help with absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) from other foods.

#7: Organic Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is excellent for high-heat frying, because the saturated fats in the oil are not readily oxidized (made rancid) and can tolerate the heat. [Lard and palm oil are other excellent fats for high-heat frying].

This excellent source of medium-chain saturated fas is especially rich in lauric acid. In fact, the only other source of this important fat is mothers’ milk. It has amazing anti-viral and anti-microbial properties when converted to monolaurin by the body.

#8: Whey Protein Concentrate

Here I suggest a minor change to the recommendation. Some whey protein concentrates are heat-treated and therefore have damaged, lesser quality protein. Look for concentrates that are not heat treated (read the label and look for ‘low-temperature processing’ and ‘micro-filtered’).

Liquid whey (a byproduct of cheesemaking, but also a component of yogurt and kefir) provides additional vital nutrients removed from concentrated whey protein products:

  • food (lactose) for the native probiotics in your gut, an important part of your immune system.
  • absorbable minerals calcium, magnesium and phosphorus (if it has not been processed)

For these reasons, the best way to get your whey is to consume raw milk, yogurt or kefir, or use liquid whey (such as from cheesemaking), at least 8 oz, 2 – 3 times a day.

#9: Raw Organic butter from grass fed dairy animals

Like coconut oil, butter is another fat primarily comprised of medium-chain saturated fats, but it also has butyric acid, a short-chain saturated fat important for liver function. However, butter is not good for high-heat frying.

The best way to consume butter is raw (not made from pasteurized milk), but this is hard to come by unless you make it yourself. It’s also important that the milk/cream from which it is derived, comes from grass fed dairy animals, because that cream is rich in vitamins A, D, E  and K from the grass. Note that if raw butter is made from cultured cream, it has even higher levels of vitamin K.

#10: Raw Green vegetable juice

Many of us have done the juice fast at the Wellness Education Center, and can attest to the tastiness and healthfulness of juicing raw, fresh greens and vegetables. It is a raw, living food, full of phytonutrients including vitamins, minerals and enzymes.

Canned veggie juices like V-8 are definitely not the same. These juices are heat-treated during the canning process, destroying much of the vitamins and other phytonutrients, and all of the enzymes.

To Mercola’s list, I would add the following:

#11: Meats from grass or pasture-fed animals (poultry, beeves, lamb, etc.) and wild game

This is especially important for protein types like me, who thrive on a meat-based diet and do not do well on a vegetarian diet. Carb-types may forgo livestock meats in favor of a vegetarian diet or wild fish.

Wild game and grass-fed livestock have a far better fat profile than grain-raised animals; not only are they lower in fat content, they have a higher proportion of Omega-3 fats (over Omega-6). They are generally healthier and happier (less stressed) animals.

See my earlier post: Local Food and Agriculture in Montana; Grass-Finished Beef for information on the health benefit of grass/pasture-raised and finished meats.

#12: Small fresh fruits such as berries

These fruits are the most like ancient fruits consumed by our paleolithic (hunter-gatherer) ancestors, and are the richest in phytonutrients. However, for protein types like me, all fruits should be a smaller portion of the daily diet than for carb types.



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