Nutritious Green Foods You Didn’t Know About
Good nutrition is all about variety! Browse through our list of unusual fruits and veggies and give yourself a chance to try something new.
National Green Juice Day is practically here, and we’ve got some green ingredients that would be perfect for your juicer or blender. Speaking of which, what’s the difference between juicing and blending and is there a best method?
Depending on what you want to get out of your beverage, or rather, what you want to leave in, you will have to make a choice between juicing and blending.
Juicing extracts the liquid from the fruits or veggies and leaves the skin, the pulp, and pretty much everything else behind. According to our registered dietitian, Debbie James, juicing allows you to reap the benefits of drinking up more vitamins and antioxidants, but because it’s a less filling beverage, you’ll also likely consume more (which means more calories).1 She also notes that juicers work best with produce that contain water. For example, you’ll have quite a hard time juicing an avocado or sweet potato which you’re more likely to see in blended drinks.
Blending essentially pulverizes the whole fruit or vegetable. This means that you have the benefit of consuming nutrients and fiber that are often stripped away when you’re juicing. James explains that blending can create a more satisfying beverage which may lead you to consume fewer total calories. When using a blender, you’ll also be able to add ingredients like “ice, yogurt, protein powder, [and] peanut butter.”1 These types of ingredients can help mask flavors of veggies you wouldn’t normally enjoy. If you’re planning on substituting a meal with your beverage, this approach is probably better suited for you.1
The perfect recipe is in the preferences of your taste buds. However, there are some tricks to making a more nutritious drink no matter which method you choose. Whether you’re juicing or blending, James recommends incorporating a ratio of 3 vegetables to 1 fruit. This is one way to lower the sugar content and increase the nutrient content.2
Ready for some ideas? We’ve got a number of green and nutritious ingredients that you can add to your beverage:
2. Mint – Mint contains fiber and is a good source of:
3. Lime – Limes contain fiber and are a good source of:
4. Green Apple – Green apples are a good source of:
5. Avocado – Avocados are full of healthy fats and are a good source of:
6. Pear – Pears are packed with soluble and insoluble fiber and are a good source of:
7. Celery – Celery is a great source of fiber and water and contains small amounts of:
8. Kale – Kale is highly nutritious as it is a great source of:
9. Watercress – Watercress is a great source of:
10. Spinach – Spinach is high in insoluble fiber and is a good source of:
*Nutrition information is from various sources. Click the link for each item to view the source and to read additional details.
For more information on fresh juice, read our registered dietitian’s answer to the question: How Long Does Fresh Juice Hold Its Nutritional Value? Or, read up on what you need to know if you plan to Substitute Meals with Your Juice or a Smoothie. To stay in-the-loop about our fitness and nutrition articles, subscribe to our newsletter to receive monthly highlights from the LA Fitness blog!
Is the Keto diet recommended for everyone?
NO. A ketogenic diet is one in which carbohydrates are severely restricted (nearly eliminated), fat consumption is high and protein intake is moderate-low. The body’s process of converting its metabolism to fat-burning ketosis is a survival mechanism when carbohydrate supply is inadequate and dietary fat is plenty. [It shouldn’t be confused with diabetic ketoacidosis which also produces ketones, but with extremely high blood sugar.] Despite its short-term effectiveness for weight loss, I rarely recommend a Keto diet. Looking at all the available evidence, my professional opinion is that such an extreme approach is in opposition to a sustainable eating style that supports the whole body across one’s entire lifetime.
Following a ketogenic diet can cause long-term adverse effects such as hepatic steatosis, hypoproteinemia, kidney stones, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies1. Since the ketogenic diet is very high in fat, those with gallbladder, kidney, liver, or pancreatic disease or problems with delayed gastric emptying should not follow it. Just as they shouldn’t be consuming a high sugar/refined carb diet, pregnant or nursing women also should not be on a keto diet. It may be ideal for certain populations, though. Healthcare practitioners may prescribe a classic or modified ketogenic diet for patients with epilepsy2. It may be prescribed for morbidly obese patients in the weeks leading up to bariatric surgery3 and for some patients with Type 2 Diabetes4.
– Debbie J., MS, RD
This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.
Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.
Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!
Good nutrition is all about variety! Browse through our list of unusual fruits and veggies and give yourself a chance to try something new.
Does liberally salting your food help you pump more iron in the gym? Registered Dietitian, Debbie James, investigates the claims!
One frequently asked question is about the recommended intake of protein. We hear you! Here is everything you need to know.
Nourishing your skin from the inside out often means focusing on collagen production (vs. consuming collagen supplements) since it’s the major component of connective tissue in tendons, skin and ligaments1,2. Your dermis layer’s collagen serves to provide skin with structure, allowing skin to rebuild and repair, and to withstand stretching1, providing skin elasticity and tone2. Although it’s the most abundant protein in the body, as we age our natural production of collagen wanes3. Collagen fibers break down or no longer regenerate, which lead to dreaded wrinkles2.
Collagen is made up of several amino acids, predominantly the non-essential amino acids glycine, proline, hydroxyproline1,2, as well as alanine and arginine. Varying amino acid combinations make different types of collagen, so the collagen in skin (types I & III) is not the same as that in your joints (type II) or gut. In theory, boosting collagen production means furnishing your body with an adequate supply of amino acids from any protein source. However, the body prioritizes protein production to where it’s needed, say wound healing or antibodies for immunity, so it’s impossible to determine in advance where possible collagen peptides will be used in the body2.
Still, consuming dietary sources of collagen ensures getting adequate amounts of hydroxyproline – the one amino acid not found in other proteins. Since collagen is concentrated in connective tissues, such as muscle, animal flesh (meat, fish, poultry, eggs) is a good source of collagen. Spirulina algae also contains collagen. Bone broth (which is simmered much longer than stock) also provides the amino acids necessary to build collagen2.
Overall, dermatologists recommend a diet rich in nutrients and antioxidants to preserve skin health. Several play a key role in the production and maintenance of collagen to keep skin smooth and firm, while others protect against sun-induced skin aging and free radical damage in skin cells. Specifically, the skin-saving nutrients and phytochemicals to include regularly in your diet should be:
This antioxidant is a necessary cofactor in collagen synthesis and protects existing collagen from degradation2,4 and subsequent skin damage. Good food sources include citrus fruit, kiwifruit, peppers, strawberries, papaya, tomato juice, kale, cabbage, Brussel sprouts and broccoli4.
As with vitamin C, this antioxidant helps fights free radicals produced from sun exposure4. Sunflower seeds, almonds, avocado, wheat germ, sunflower oil and grapeseed oil are good sources.
An essential fatty acid used in making ceramides to build a strong skin barrier4. Research also suggests that higher intakes may reduce skin aging4. It’s found in nuts and seeds, grapeseed oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil and canola oil.
This type of fat from fatty fish (such as salmon, trout and sardines) and certain plant oils (flaxseed, soybean, and canola) preserves collagen and reduces inflammation caused by ultraviolet rays4.
Found in Brazil nuts, mushrooms, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, turkey and seafood, this antioxidant mineral protects skin cells from free radical damage and guards against skin cancer4.
A mineral commonly found in eggs, broccoli, onions, and garlic2 that’s needed for the structural formation of collagen.
Foods such as red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, certain types of seafood, whole grains, and dairy products provide this necessary mineral co-factor for collagen production2.
These compounds in foods such as green tea, berries, beans and cocoa powder may reduce inflammation, improving skin elasticity and reducing wrinkles4.
The liquid of life helps maintain skin moisture, delivers nutrients to your skin, and flushes out toxins.
Besides thinking about producing new collagen, it’s equally important to consider protecting existing collagen from damage and subsequent skin sagging. Lifestyle factors that negatively affect collagen integrity include smoking and sun and pollution exposure2.
Quitting smoking, wearing sunscreen and avoiding microscopic contaminants help to save your skin. A big dietary factor in skin aging is high sugar intake2 because the binding of sugar molecules to collagen fibers forms advanced glycation end–products5, causing permanent damage. To prevent wrinkles, include only natural sugars in whole foods like fruit and milk, and avoid added sugars.
Any good workout plan needs a good nutrition plan. Over the years, we’ve learned a lot from our registered dietitian, Debbie James. Today, we’re compiling pieces of her best advice to help you construct your perfect meal plan.
Many of our readers want to know what they should be eating for weight loss, for healthy weight gain, for muscle gain, and more. To help simplify your search for the right answer, look no further than the article: How to Create a Meal Plan.
Here, you will find Debbie’s step-by-step process to construct a nutrition plan that meets your desired calorie count and macronutrient content. Because you’re making it yourself, you can easily tailor your “menu” to include only the foods you will actually eat. Paired with examples of how to follow each step, and tips for success, this article is a great place to start building your nutrition plan.
If, before getting started, you’d like some general information on carbs, fats, and proteins, you can read her post: Let’s Talk About the Basics.
As you put together your meal plan, you’ll be looking for ideas. What are examples of healthy pairings? Should you go for protein or complex carbs? What are healthy substitutions for foods you’re trying to cut-out? Fortunately, Debbie has explored these types of questions as well.
In her post on Healthy Suggestions for Breakfast, Lunch, and Snacks, Debbie offers a breakdown of potential meals that are about 750 calories each.
Another post on Breakfast and Lunch Options on the Go offers some sample meals that come in at about 600 calories each.
Depending on what your daily caloric needs are, you can add, remove, or swap items with healthy alternatives from the list you made in the first step of creating your meal plan. Keep in mind that sample meal plans are not meant to be repeated every day. The hope is that you will follow the structure but switch up your food choices so you can benefit from the nutritional content in your various food choices.
Vegan – For vegan meals, tasty options abound. Not only does Debbie talk about Vegan Breakfasts, she offers possible food combinations to give any meal more variety and provides readers with a list of the top vegan sources of protein.
Vegetarian – What if your meal plan is leaning towards vegetarian? Here, Debbie lists some high protein and low carb vegetarian foods that you can work into your meal plan. You’ll also find her response to questions about How to Lose Weight on a Vegetarian Diet or How to Gain Healthy Weight on a Vegetarian Diet.
Low-Carb – If you’re trying to go low carb, you might be interested in this piece on Cauliflower Substitutions, the most recent craze in terms of rice and dough alternatives. Or, perhaps you want to know about the Best Time of Day to Eat Starchy Carbs. Yup, there’s a piece on that too!
Snacks are also on our radar when we’re structuring our food for the day. They keep us from getting too hungry before our next meal and can help keep us feeling full and energized throughout the day. What you choose to put on your snack list, however, is just as important as what goes into your meals. Debbie’s Super Snacking Guide offers a nice breakdown of what you should aim for when putting together your snacks.
If you still need some more ideas or feel like your options are limited by your dietary restrictions, you may find her answer to this reader’s question helpful. It offers some insight into healthy substitutions for sugary and salty snacks. Other answers share which snacks will keep hunger at bay and which can help boost your energy. We haven’t forgotten about our readers with gluten sensitivities or intolerances. This list on Gluten-Free Snacks can help guide your decision-making as well.
If this all sounds like just a little too much to read, you can listen to Debbie’s advice in many of our podcasts. Some relevant topics you might enjoy include:
How to Never Fail at a Diet Again
How to Meal Prep the Right Way
What You’ve Been Wanting to Know About Fad Diets (Paleo, Keto, and More)
Your nutrition questions are always welcome and Debbie is ready to help! Simply email email@example.com or submit your question online and it may be featured in an upcoming article! To access our monthly blog post highlights, subscribe to our newsletter, today!
As children, we don’t have much choice in the foods we are provided and the habits we are taught to cultivate. This is why changing our diet is so difficult; you have to retrain your taste buds. Fortunately, this is completely doable, even if it’s a bit difficult.
We’re taking things step-by-step to help you transition to a healthier style of eating. Read on for your complete guide on how to love the taste of health foods!
Before you can build new habits, you need to look at your current eating patterns. Make a food log and, over the course of a week, write down everything you eat and when you eat it. If you like, color-code your information so you know which foods were meals, which were snacks, and maybe even which ones you ate when you knew you weren’t hungry.
The reason we’re going through this step first is because we’re planning on introducing new foods. To avoid adding additional calories to your day, it’s probably a good idea to replace calories that you would have typically eaten anyway.
There are a lot of options here and many of them are shunned for their acidic, bitter, pungent, or seemingly tasteless profiles. Examples include: Lemon, vinegar, kale, spinach, arugula, quinoa, plain yogurt, and fatty fish.
Instead of forcing yourself through a plateful of kale, start training your taste buds to like the type of flavors in your chosen foods. For example, introduce more sour, bitter, and umami flavors into your diet. If you’re unfamiliar with umami, it’s the distinct taste you can find in foods like seaweed, miso, salmon, and hard cheeses like parmesan.1
Start adding sour foods that you do enjoy to your diet.
If you want to eventually enjoy vinaigrette on your salad but you don’t like the acidity and sourness of it, regularly eating sour foods that you do like can build your tolerance for sour flavors. Here is a list of nutritious sour foods: 2,3
Following the same principle as before, start incorporating bitter flavors that you do enjoy.
Here is a list of nutritious bitter foods.3,4 Choose one you’re comfortable with and slowly push the boundaries of what you’d normally eat until you arrive at a tolerance (and hopefully enjoyment) for the level of bitterness you want to achieve.
Start Incorporating umami flavors
The umami flavor comes from a compound extracted from dry kelp.3 It is this flavor, and others like it, that have the savory taste you’ll find in many Oriental dishes. Here is a list of nutritious umami foods5 that you can add to your diet.
Another tactic is to learn to make your favorite dishes in ways that are healthier. Slowly substitute an ingredient or two, each time you make it, until you’ve crafted a healthier version of the same recipe! Here are some substitutions, straight from the Mayo Clinic, for commonly used recipe ingredients. For the full list, visit their post on Healthy recipes: A guide to ingredient substitutions.
Rolled Oats/Crushed Bran Cereal
Brown Rice/Bulgur/Pearl Barley/Wild Rice
Reduced Fat Milk/Fat Free Milk
Lean Ground Beef/Ground Chicken/Ground Turkey
Ultimately, you have to change your mind-set before you can change your taste buds. Food is what fuels your body. The more nutritious that fuel is, the better your body will feel and the more easily it can process what you put in. Gradually learning to enjoy flavors found in health foods is the key. So, take it slow, and work your way to a more nutritious lifestyle.
For help creating a meal plan, read our registered dietitian’s post on How to Create a Meal Plan. If you need help catering to picky kids and teens, read her post on How to Get Your Kids to Eat Right. To access our monthly blog post highlights, subscribe to our newsletter today!
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