I like to experiment in the kitchen and use modern superfoods, but my mother likes to eat traditional foods. Here are a number of them with some of their health benefits.
Part 3 of an article originally published on April 28, 2023 in The Road to Wellness on Medium
Here’s the first part of this article, published on this blog two days ago, and here’s the second part, published yesterday.
While I grind seeds quite often to eat with yogurt or add to doughs, my mother likes to crack walnuts the old-fashioned way. She takes great pleasure in it, actually.
Walnuts are richer (by far) in ALA omega-3 fatty acids than other nuts. Omega-3 fats lower triglycerides. They also have other polyunsaturated fats, along with monounsaturated fats, which lower cholesterol levels. In fact, a 2015 study shows that walnuts lowered TC and LDL cholesterol significantly in 112 people aged 25 to 75 at risk for diabetes who ate 2 ounces/56 grams of walnuts daily for six weeks. It’s important to note that this result was independent of whether the participants adjusted or not their diets with regard to the extra 366 calories obtained from their daily handful of walnuts. The latter also improved their endothelial function, which plays a critical role in cardiovascular health. The participants reaped all these benefits without their body mass index, percent body fat, or visceral fat changing in significant ways.
Walnuts are also super rich in vitamin E, 100 grams of walnuts provide 140% of this vitamin. Incidentally, this is why it’s important not to overdo it with walnuts, especially if we get vitamin E from other sources as well (such as omega-3 supplements, which often include a form of tocopherol as well), as vitamin E is a blood thinner. Also, walnuts do have some saturated fats as well.
Walnuts also contain folate and vitamin B6, along with several minerals. But that’s not all, as walnuts are also an important source of antioxidant polyphenols, among them catechin and epicatechin, ellagic acid, and phytic acid.
While my mother doesn’t eat a handful of nuts as I do (for the most part), and as some of my friends weaned on modern nutritional advice do, she does eat them often enough. She also likes to eat trail mix, but she finds her teeth are not strong enough to handle the almonds in it.
My mother also loves fish — adores it, even. I have always loved trout and salmon, but after paying more attention to Mom’s preferences — for gilt-head sea bream and European sea bass — I’ve started to notice new flavors in fish and think of new ways to prepare it.
Sea bass and sea bream are not oily fish, but they do have omega-3 fats. These fish and others also have vitamins D and B2, along with many important minerals: calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, potassium, and iodine. And sea bass and sea bream have a nice mild flavor, different from some of the oily fish such as sardines and mackerel, and they are low in mercury, which can be a problem with some types of mackerel, for instance, and also, famously, with tuna.
Cooking fish doesn’t have to be complicated, either. Mom makes a dressing of garlic, olive oil, lime juice, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, and parsley (it sounds like a lot, but it’s not, really); add that on top of the fish before baking it in a folded pouch of parchment paper (en papillote), and it works wonders. But I also like the plain fish meat, such as when she gives these fish a coat of polenta and then fries them.
All that is to say that I learned from Mom the importance of enjoying fish, which is something very much needed if we are to get at least the recommended two portions of fish a week. My go-to fish has been either salmon or canned sardines and herring, which has to change, especially as some cans are either super oily or thick with a tomato sauce I don’t enjoy (because it has a preservative that gives me acid reflux).
As for the omega-3 content, Mom takes a supplement, too, as I do.
My mother thinks it’s important to eat meat now and then. She says that families had it right in the past when as a child, she had meat only on Sundays.
On my part, I find meat less and less appetizing as time goes by (unless it’s highly seasoned), but I tend to agree with her that a little bit of meat might be okay for me too.
To Be Continued . . .
If you want to read the whole article, here it is on Medium.
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To a happier, healthier life,