What to eat: Part I

I've spent a good number of Heart Scan Blog posts detailing what foods to limit or avoid.

The list of unquestionably bad foods to avoid include foods made of wheat, cornstarch, and sugars. Fructose is proving to be an exceptionally bad form of sugar, worse than any other. I've issued warnings about levels of carbohydrates that can be determined by postprandial testing.

In response to several requests to clarify what foods to eat, this post begins a series discussing what foods are good to eat.

I believe that a strong case can be made for eating vegetables in nearly all its varied forms, from cucumbers to peppers to leafy vegetables to eggplant to alliums like onions. The only form we avoid are red and white potatoes due to the blood sugar-increasing effects.

While this seems obvious, I am impressed how many people who follow low-carb diets find themselves following a high-animal product diet with vegetables as the sideline. It should be the other way around: A high vegetable diet with animal products as the sideline.

Vegetables are your principal source of:

1) Flavonoids and polyphenols--e.g., anthocyanins and catechins. All the recently appreciated effects of flavonoids and polyphenols highlight the wonderful effects of compounds originating in plant foods. This includes the anthocyanins and resveratrol in red wine; the catechins and epicatechins cocoa and green tea; the hydroxytyrosol, phenolic acid, and flavonoids of olive oil.

2) Fiber--Fiber is essentially a plant phenomenon, since there is virtually none in chicken, fish, and beef. The benefits of fiber are, I believe, undisputed. Neglecting fiber can, at the very least, lead to a nasty case of hemorrhoids. At the worst, it is related to various cancers, especially colon cancer.

3) Vitamin C--While vitamin C may be old and boring in light of new, exciting discoveries like flavonoids, neglect leads to bad things.

Vegetables are generally classified as carbohydrate foods, since they are low in protein and fat. But this is the source of carbohydrates you do not want to sacrifice in a low-carbohydrate diet. There's just too much good from vegetables.

Notice that I didn't say "fruits and vegetables." This is a fundamental mistake made by many: Oveconsumption of fruits. I've even seen people who follow an otherwise good diet develop diabetes--just from too much fruit.

Vegetables should be the cornerstone of the human diet. But I'll bet you knew that already.