Print this page

Experiment with super foods!

24 August 2012
Author   J.W. ASHEEKE

I am trying to keep my husband more fit. As he is firmly in middle age, I decided to take more care about what he eats to make sure he has better foods that can address his cholesterol and high blood pressure issues.
I love the ‘belly handles’ that hang a bit over his belt, but I try to limit that love by preparing super foods.


I have asked my dietician about these diet suggestions. Most of what I write below is taken directly from www.hearthealthyonline.com. (Before starting any diet, go to your own doctor and ask!)
Readers – you are what you eat! You folks who eat Kentucky all week, and then complain because your butt stops moving 10 seconds after the rest of your body, need to take note.
A Namibian diet that is dominated by various parts of goats, oshifima, oshikundu or Tafel Lager is delicious, but not necessarily anti-stroke, anti-heart attack, anti-hypertension and anti-gout.
Recognizing the difficulty in separating an Ovambo man from matangaras, evanda with marula oil, oshigali and oshifima, I decided to be creative and slowly incorporate things they call SUPER FOODS, into his diet to nudge tradition yet still help my man eat healthy.
Now to do all of this food trial-and-error, you need a willing guinea pig of sorts. Some of the healthy meals I prepare don’t quite come out right.
I am lucky that my husband is a dear; he eats whatever I prepare. But, I can tell he doesn’t like it when he doesn’t ask for seconds and won’t meet my eyes as he hands me his empty plate.
Changing eating habits bit-by-bit is more practical than abruptly dropping a favorite food from your diet. Also, to really begin a healthier life style, mix eating well with simple, but regular exercise.
You don’t have to work out like an Olympian; you just need to get your heart rate moving. When you get home from work, don’t sit on the sofa and read the newspaper (unless it is the Observer).
Go outside and walk around your block two or three times. If you have a dog, take him with you (even though the other dogs in the neighborhood bark insanely when you pass by.) At first, go walking for just 30 minutes every other day and work up from there.
The sad thing is that the cost of eating healthy is outrageously expensive! The fatty processed foods are far cheaper.
Organic foods, foods with fewer fats, low cholesterol and no processed sugars can be many times the cost of the horrid foods. This is wrong – eating healthy things should not be in the domain of the rich.
Chronic poor health is more expensive than spending more to eat in ways that could prevent costly illness in the first place. Insurance companies need to see the bigger picture: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Why don’t insurance companies sponsor vouchers that subsidize the purchase prices of specific super foods, particularly for those who are prone to heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol or hypertension?
One of the first things to do on the road to good eating: CUT PROCESSED WHITE SUGAR out of your diet! Seriously, white sugar is poison. I see so many people shoveling heaping 3, 4 or even 5 teaspoons of it into their cups of tea or coffee and I cringe.
That stuff is heavily bleached and processed and, aside from destroying your teeth, it massacres your insides. There is locally produced Namibian honey available in most stores – use it. There is something I found at SPAR called Agave Syrup.
It is pricy at more than N$70 for a bottle, but it’s a nice, plant-derived sweetener. It is great in tea and has almost no taste that I can discern; but it’s sweet and hugely better for you than that processed sugar poison.
Extra virgin olive oil is the way to go. It is high in monounsaturated fat and may help lower blood cholesterol. It has antioxidants that may help protect against some cancers and other chronic diseases.
Of course, it’s pricy – a liter can cost N$80-100 or more. BUT…think about the costs incurred after a heart attack, stroke, gout, and other high cholesterol related diseases and make a choice – prevention or perpetual treatments?
Pomegranates are great. In season, they are readily available and not too expensive. They are full of polyphenol antioxidants, which can help your body’s cells resist damage from those annoying free radicals.
Free radicals can cause cancer, accelerate aging and do other nasty things to our bodies. Pomegranate juice also works to prevent prostate cancer. I make Asheeke drink such things regularly. Prunes are good too and they are cheap. Eat a couple of those every day.
The wonderful avocado is something I was at first scared to let my husband eat because I thought it was fattening. BUT…I learned that they contain heart healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats.
They also contain something called ‘oleic acid’, which is supposed to help lower cholesterol. Avocados are not expensive. (Suggestion: eat a half of an avocado on whole wheat bread with low fat turkey slices).
I love a meal of salmon grilled with a touch of olive oil, dill, and lemon pepper with steamed broccoli with almond slices on top. Salmon is a bumpin’ source of omega-3 fatty acids. Eating fish can reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer and it is supposed to help with easing arthritis and inflammatory diseases.
It helps with better skin and hair. But, you can also get Omega-3 from almonds, fish oil, flaxseed oil and walnuts. Salmon is expensive. However, sometimes, SPAR sells the boney off-cuts from the salmon at a much cheaper price.
Namibia has GREAT fish! There are many types that are not as expensive as salmon, but have equal health value. A fish stew with veggies can serve many and is not expensive.
Beans are a tremendously powerful super food. All kinds of beans can be added to any soup or salad; they are cheap and good for you. They contain no saturated fats, transfat or cholesterol. They are high in protein, fiber, iron, folic acid, and potassium.
This is a flexible and inexpensive super food. You can vary the type of bean you eat to get new tastes and flavors into your diet. I found a recipe for kidney bean and barley soup that I will try next!
Pumpkin is a super food! It is available and affordable. It is loaded with the anti-oxidant, beta carotene. When you eat pumpkin, your body converts beta carotene into vitamin A. It also contains vitamin C and potassium. These two things counter-act the effects of sodium which is important for those with high blood pressure.
Barley and whole grains are good for you. That means whole wheat, buckwheat, and whole grain rolled oats. Eating up to three cups of cooked barley each day can lower your cholesterol. I am planning a game meat stew with barley and carrots as dinner for my husband. I found a nice recipe – let’s see if he likes my newest experiment!
Then there are mushrooms – under-rated, cheap, available and good for you. They are loaded with a potent disease fighting anti-oxidant called ‘ergothioneine’. This anti-oxidant helps the body fight off those nasty free radicals. Mushrooms are also a good source of potassium.
The key to all of this is making my husband avoid the white sugar and fried foods, limit red meat intake, no fast food, and drink plenty of herbal tea and water.
“All things in moderation” is usually the secret to success. Give it a try; experiment on your husband; have some fun with super foods.