White foods. We all love them. Sugar and refined starches are like culinary crack, giving you a rush and a mouthful of sweet comfort. They are also high on the glycemic index, and cause your blood sugars to spike in a most unhealthy way.
They are also undermining the health benefits of not eating meat.
According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.People who cut saturated fats while increasing intake of refined carbohydrates like white bread and pasta have a higher risk of heart attack. People who cut sat fats and increased consumption of unrefined whole grains and vegetables improved their heart health.
The 12 year study of over 5,000 people, done at Denmark’s Aarhus University Hospital, suggests that saturated fat does indeed play an important role in heart attack risk, but that it is the kind of carbohydrate foods consumed that makes the big difference.
So maybe all those “crunchy granola” Hippie types were right all along.
The take away here is that where heart health is concerned, whole grains, fruits and vegetables are crucial. Ovo-lacto vegetarians can indulge in some dairy and eggs, which both contain sat fats, as long as they pile on the plant foods. Flexitarians can make a little meat work, as long as they keep it balanced with lots of plants.
Take a look at what you eat in a day. Are you falling into the white foods trap? We are surrounded with unhealthy choices, all of which offer the seduction of convenience. White bread, white pasta, and of course, sugary sweets are everywhere. Chips, cookies and of course, the liquid calories of soda are not helping your heart health one bit.
Giving up meat, or cutting way back, is a great step for heart health. But you are not supporting that healthy heart if you don’t add whole, complex carb foods in its place.
The easiest way to add whole grains to your diet is by shopping carefully. Buy breads, pastas and cereals that list “whole wheat flour” as the first ingredient, and no other flours like unbleached or just “wheat.” Look for ways to eat more veggies and fruits, like adding a salad or a bowl of veggie soup to your lunch and dinner. Snack on foods like popcorn, fruit and nuts.
The simplest meal of the day to make whole grain is breakfast. Unless you are hooked on little marshmallows, it is simple enough to find a whole grain packaged cereal. It’s even cheaper to make a simple bowl of oatmeal or muesli. Add satisfying protein with either dairy or non-dairy milks, yogurts or kefir. Nuts and seeds add crunch and healthy fats. Pile on the fruits.
Cutting back on or eliminating meat is a great step to heart health. Step two is to support your health with whole foods, all day long.
Crazy-Ugly Fruit and Protein Oat Cereal
Full disclosure, this recipe is from a previous post. It’s a great way to eat oats in the summer, since you can put it together and keep it in the refrigerator. It’s also pretty tasty, once you get past the oats looking purplish.
2 cups bing cherry juice (all fruit juice)
1 cup thick rolled oats
1/2 cup dried goji berries or cranberries
2 tablespoons protein powder (rice, soy, hemp or whey, take your pick)
kefir or non-dairy milk or yogurt and sweetener to taste
In a 2 quart saucepan, bring the juice to a simmer, stir in oats and dried fruit. Cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring every few. When the oats are soft, take off the heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Stir in the protein powder, add more juice or water if you like it thinner, then serve with kefir or non-dairy alternatives and sweetener to taste.