By Al Roach
Until a few years ago (well, more like 30), I never really worried about what I ate. I’m from the south (meat, potatoes, gravy), and I ate food that tasted good. That was the only criteria. Words like “nutritious food” never really entered my mind or my mouth. But once I crossed that half century mark – things began to change. Certain of my assets started to rearrange and I found myself faced with the worst of all four-letter words – DIET.
I hate diets. The diets that I used to read about recommended meals that either didn’t taste good, or if they did taste anywhere near decent, only allowed you to eat 4 ml or mg. It wasn’t near enough food and I was always suspicious of any recipe that involved mls or mgs. And, there wasn’t one diet that recommended a heavy helping of Hellman’s mayonnaise (one of my major food groups). All they talked about was using a “healthy” substitute – something called “Vegenaise”. Not in my lifetime!
And that’s what I have been struggling with until about 20 years ago when I met my healthy, nutrition-focused, organic-minded, would-never-touch-Hellman’s mayonnaise wife, Virginia. She eats healthy – I mean really healthy. She started working on me from day one, using words like “tofu” and of all things – Vegenaise! I will admit, I resisted mightily until she took unfair advantage. She told me that if I really loved her and wanted to spend a healthy, long life with her – I would have to change my eating habits. Wives do things like that – primarily because they can.
So, I started listening to my wife about this nutrition stuff (and anything else she says!), understanding what I needed to do to eat healthy. Although I fought it at first, and I never would have believed it, but it does work. Virginia has introduced me to healthy foods that taste good. And, while I was tricked into trying it (she switched the jars), I love
Since then, we have tried a number of new recipes – all of which are healthy (of course), easy to make, include ingredients that can be found at any Publix, and taste great.
Now, here is one of the best parts of this “nutrition” journey. We learned about the healthy benefits of wine and chocolate. Really, wine and chocolate!
Let’s begin with the French and the part about the wine. It all started with what is known as the “French Paradox”: How could the French, who have such a high fat diet, still have a lower incidence of heart attacks than any other part of the world. The conclusion had to do with their consumption of wine – especially red wine.
Here’s how it works and why red is better than white. The fermented skin and seeds of the grapes hold the answer as they contain concentrated doses of several beneficial and disease-fighting antioxidants, including the number one antioxidant, “resveratrol”. Technically speaking, red/purple grapes are better for you. Let me tell you why. Since their skin is a darker color, they contain a higher flavonoid content, which makes them richer in antioxidants than white/green grapes.
And while moderation is always the best policy, research shows that for men a couple of glasses of red wine a day and a glass a day for women, the antioxidants that it contains offer a number of health benefits, including:
• Prevents harmful elements in the body (“free radicals”) from attacking healthy cells.
• Helps in the prevention of heart disease and strokes by increasing oxygen to the blood which thins the blood and keeps the individual blood cells (platelets) from sticking together and forming blood clots.
• Also helps in the prevention of heart disease and high blood pressure by reducing the LDL cholesterol and the build up of plaque on the inside of the arteries.
• Further helps in prevention of heart disease by regulating nitric oxide which allows blood to flow smoothly through the vessels.
• Improves the breathing process and lung capacity by reducing lung tissue inflammation which can in cause chronic lung diseases.
• Contains a phytoestrogen which is believed to benefit certain conditions (affected by a decrease in natural estrogen), including menopause, breast cancer, osteoporosis and cardiovascular diseases.
• Improves liver function.
• Studies are continuing which show positive results in the fight against cancer, including leukemia, colon, prostrate, breast, ovarian, and skin cancer by:
– Minimizing the cancer-causing DNA mutations
– Inhibiting the process that leads to the growth of cancer – blocking the formation of the blood vessels which “feed” the cancer cells
– Causing certain cancer cells to self-destruct
While red wine provides more benefits, white wine works too:
• Contains potassium salt which has a diuretic effect and cleanses the kidneys.
• Improves digestion.
• Contains certain acids (tyrosol & caffeic) which have anti-inflammatory benefits.
And now let’s take a look at Virginia’s favorite – chocolate, especially dark chocolate. This tasty treat contains disease fighting antioxidants called “flavonoids”. These flavonoids are believed to help the cells resist damage caused by free radicals. These free radicals are formed by normal body processes such as the breathing of environmental contaminants like cigarette smoke. The lack of the proper amount of these antioxidants can lead to increases in LDL cholesterol oxidation and plaque formation in the arteries, which can result in life threatening heart disease.
Once again, with both wine and chocolate – moderation is the key.
So, there you go. I’m now a health-minded, satisfied eater. And I don’t do DIETS. And if I can do it – anyone can.
P.S. Try the Vegenaise – you’ll like it!
Al Roach and his wife, Virginia Phillips, are owners of 20 Minutes to Fitness®, private slow cadence strength training studios located in Lakewood Ranch, Sarasota and Tampa. Training sessions are individually supervised by nationally certified personal fitness coaches and are by appointment only.
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Sarasota, FL 34237
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Sarasota, FL 34240
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Tampa, Fl 33618