Healthy Eating: Resolution time

Four dynamic food duos that may help you to succeed in being healthier, slimmer and just plain happier this New Year.

Tomatoes 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Tomatoes 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
January is here, and what does that mean? New Year’s Resolution time!
New Year's resolutions are always made with the best of intentions, and when the clock struck midnight, and we were ushered into 2012, you can be sure people across the planet vowed to change something in their lives. As always, topping this year’s resolution list is to get in shape, to eat healthier, and to drop a few pounds. While making these goals is certainly admirable, sticking to the resolutions is a completely different story. The unfortunate reality is that by mid-February nearly 20 percent of people give up and within six months fewer than half will still be sticking to their new goals. So to lend you a helping hand in the “eating healthier” and “losing weight” categories, here a few food combos that will blast your body with disease-fighting nutrients at very low calorie price.
Broccoli + Tomatoes = an antioxidant powerhouse
The general consensus is that fruits and vegetables are equal healthy; and this is 100% correct. Across the board, fruits and veggies, whether they are green, yellow, red, orange, yellow or even pink, are jammed pack with vitamins, minerals and other health beneficial nutrients. Now among the fruit and veggie clan, two members are continuously praised for their many health benefits. Can you guess? Broccoli and Tomatoes (yes, tomatoes are technically considered a fruit)!
Notorious for its low calories and high levels of Vitamin K (an essential vitamin needed to help clot blood), broccoli is abundant in many vitamins, minerals, and other protective disease fighting nutrients. In particular, this green veggie is saturated with beta-carotene, indoles, and isothiocyanates - all cancer-fighting compounds. Tomatoes, on the other hand, are abundant in the cancer-fighting compounds lycopene, vitamin C, and vitamin A. So what better way to start off a healthier new year, than by incorporating these two super foods into our daily regime? How about eating them together. While individually both of these foods are extremely beneficial to us, when combined, they are a force to be reckoned with. Recent studies have shown that this combo may prevent prostate cancer. While researchers are still unsure as to why this happens, studies on rats consistently found that those fed this red and green mix were significantly less likely to develop prostate cancer then those fed broccoli and tomatoes separately.
Salad + Nuts = a complete meal
When most people think about losing weight and or eating healthier, salad generally comes to mind. From lettuce, to tomatoes, to cucumber, to carrots and sometimes even red cabbage, a salad is loaded with low calorie vegetables that are high in nutrients! But to make your salad even more complete, try sprinkling on a handful of nuts. Rich in heart-healthy omega fats, nuts - particularly almonds and walnuts – can help to lower one’s LDL cholesterol. Nicknamed the “bad” cholesterol, LDL (low density lipoprotein) can increase one’s risk of heart disease, as it causes plaque to form on the arterial walls. Nuts, and other foods high in Omega-3 fatty acid, have been shown to help reduce LDL cholesterol, while raising the HDL “good” cholesterol. Now a handful of nuts will certainly up the calorie count on your slimming salad; however it will also add about four to six grams of protein. The combination of the protein from the nuts, and the fiber from the vegetables in the salad, will keep you feeling full longer – thus preventing unwanted snacking between meals.
Turmeric + Black Pepper = a synergic reaction
What do you picture when you imagine healthy foods? Fruits, vegetables and whole grains, most likely; but what about spices? Revered for the medicinal properties by ancient civilization, modern day research has finally proven what our ancestors knew all along – spices can do a lot for you. While cinnamon and ginger have been under our radar for a while now, in 2012 a new spice will take center stage – turmeric. Usually found in Indian dishes such as curry, turmeric has long been studied for its anti-cancer properties and anti-inflammatory effects. However, there is only one problem with using this tangy yellow spice, it has low bioavailability (meaning that we cannot absorb the majority of the nutrients). However don’t discount it yet, as there is surprisingly simple solution that is most likely sitting in your pantry right now – black pepper. Adding black pepper to turmeric or turmeric-spiced food greatly enhances its bioavailability. But black pepper is more than just a helpful sidekick. Whether it be whole, cracked or ground, black pepper encourages the stomach to increase production of hydrochloric acid – an acid needed for the digestion of proteins and other food components – and therefore improves digestion. Black pepper may also act as a natural antibiotic, fighting off invading bacteria that can make you sick.
Garlic + Fish
 = the key to your heart
No one wants garlic breath; after all it drives your friends away. But you know what else it drives away? Diseases – and lots of them in fact. From reducing cholesterol, to preventing blood clots and fighting off everything from infections to the flu, garlic is without doubt one of the best foods for you. And then of course you have cold-water fish, such as wild salmon, halibut and tuna. Notorious for its high levels of omega-3 fatty acid, cold water fish has been proven to help reduce bad cholesterol while raising the good one. So what happens when you rub a little garlic on your fish? Simple, not only is it a match made in heaven for your tastes buds, but also for your heart. Studies have found that cooking your fish with garlic lowers your total cholesterol better than eating those fillets or garlic cloves on their own.