Dietitian and author Dave Grotto tells how adding certain foods to your diet really can save your life.
According to author Dave Grotto, 101 Foods That Could Save Your Lifeis a book that shows you how to bring life-saving foods into your health plan. Many of the foods in the book have been used as medicine since ancient times, and some of these uses are now being backed by modern science. The book includes a list of 101 foods with proven health benefits, "the story" about each food, why you should eat it, and a sample recipe for each food. Below, Dave answers a few questions about the book and these 101 foods.
Q. Food as medicine is not a new idea, but does it really work?
A. Yes. There are foods that have a profound effect on health and that, in some cases, can reduce or even replace drug therapies to control conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and elevated blood lipids.
Q. Why 101 foods?
A. I wanted to include a lot of foods in the book so that people would have choices about what foods to add. This is a book that celebrates food–not a book about depriving yourself.
Q. So are these the only healthy foods out there?
A. Certainly not. Nutrition science is continually evolving, so there will certainly be new research indicating health benefits of other foods.
Q. How did you select these particular foods?
A. I used the concept of "nutrient density". Nutrient dense foods are the ones that contain the most nutrition for the fewest calories. I also took into account the phytochemical content of foods. Phytochemicals are plant compounds that aren't considered nutrients like vitamins and minerals, but do offer important health benefits. I also reviewed the nutrition literature for new research on the healing properties of foods.
Q. What kinds of foods are on the list?
A. Many of the foods are common things like apples, bananas, grapes, oats, coffee and tea that you may have eaten your whole life. Others, like teff, quinoa, spelt, gogi berries, and agave may be new to you. There are also herbs and spices such as basil, cinnamon, and parsley on the list.
Q. Do you have to eat all of these foods to improve your health, or is this more of a pick and choose kind of thing?
A. I like to think of this book as a starting point for eating optimally. You can start off by just adding a few foods from the list to your meals the first week. Then add a few more the next week. As you keep adding new foods, over time they start taking the place of the less beneficial foods in your diet.
Q. There are a lot of healthy eating books out there. What's different about this one?
A. This is not a diet book. It's a book that promotes optimal eating. Although there is a sample meal plan, it's not a strict diet plan and is only for an example of how you can easily incorporate these foods into your diet. Through my nutrition counseling practice I found that simply focusing on restricting specific foods for period of time doesn't work. People have more success when they include certain "powerhouse" foods in their diets while decreasing, but not abandoning not-so-healthy foods. It dawned on me as I worked with a number of people who experienced significant health improvements by adding more of these high-nutrient foods to their diets that healthy eating does not have to be black and white–gray works just fine!
Q. Where did the recipes come from?
A. The recipes came from chefs, dietitians, celebrities, family and friends, and were taste-tested by real folks, namely my kids, family members, and neighbors. You know that if three kids have all given a recipe a "thumbs up" that the recipe tastes good. We eat food, not nutrition, so if a recipe didn't pass the taste test, I didn't include it in the book.
Q. If you had one message for your readers, what would it be?
A. Why wait to start adding healthy foods to your diet? There is certainly no downside to eating healthy foods!
Dave Grotto is a registered dietitian, owner of Nutrition Housecall, LLC, a nutrition consulting firm, and the host and executive producer of 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life.com and it's companion radio program. He also serves on the scientific advisory board at Men's Health magazine and Fitness magazine, writes the featured column, "Ask the Guy-a-titian" in Chicago Wellness Magazine.
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