Healthy Spices You Should Add To Your Diet.

Healthy Spices You Should Add To Your Diet.

A diet doesn’t have to be boring. Eating the same thing every day can get repetitive and monotonous. I get this complaint a lot from people saying they can only eat so many chicken breasts, salmon fillets  and stalks of broccoli before they need to change it up. Don’t let yourself get into a rut and add different fruits, vegetables, and meats to your diet. The second solution, and one which this article is based on, is seasoning your meat and vegetables with different spices which will give it a unique taste and provide numerous health benefits.

I cringe when I see people marinating a great piece of meat or fish in a sodium loaded sauce like barbecue  soy sauce, or steak sauce. A small amount of marinade is generally acceptable but often times people over due it by soaking their meats in all kinds of preservative/sugar-loaded sauces. Instead of ruining a great tasting piece of meat with a marinade, opt for spices instead. Spices offer a wide range of benefits that all have unique health benefits and save you from the high levels of sodium, preservatives, and sugar found in most marinades that lead to several health problems

The Recommended Daily Amount of sodium is between 1500-2000 mg. 

What to stay away from

Soy Sauce

The problem: Sodium content in  1 tbsp=1000 mg

Barbecue Sauce

The problem: While the sodium content is less, the sugar levels are still relatively high. The real problem lies in the ingredients and preservatives.  Almost all BBQ sauces list high fructose corn syrup, brown sugar, xantham gum, and artificial flavors as just some of the long list the it takes to make this stuff.

Mesquite Sauces

The problem: Most mesquite sauces are loaded with sugars and unhealthy carbohydrates to go along with the high sodium levels and artificial ingredients.

The  Spices You Should Use Instead

Black Pepper

Pepper is one of the world’s healthiest spices because it is known for its positive effect on the digestive tract. It also has antibacterial and antioxidant benefits. Pepper also provides Vitamin A, Calcium, Copper, Vitamin K, Iron, Manganese, magnesium and Potassium.

Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper is derived from hot chili peppers. Cayenne pepper is great at fighting inflammation. Cayenne pepper is rich in Vitamin A, and also provides Iron, Manganese, Niacin, Niacin, Magnesium and Potassium, Riboflavin, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K and Vitamin B6, making it one of the world’s healthiest spices.

Chili Pepper

Dried chili pepper powder adds heat and spice to chili, hot wings, and ethnic foods. Similar to cayenne pepper ground chili pepper provides anti-inflammatory benefits, as it contains capsaicin. Dried chili pepper is one of the world’s healthiest spices because it is also a good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Potassium, Iron and dietary fiber.

Cinnamon

Ground Cinnamon is not only very low in cholesterol, and in sodium, it is low in saturated fat. Cinnamon also boosts your vitamin intake with its Vitamin C , Iron, Manganese, and Vitamin K.

Ginger,

Ginger, like most spices, is low in cholesterol, low in saturated fat, and low in sodium. Ginger is one of the world’s healthiest spices and provides Copper, Manganese, Magnesium, Potassium, and Vitamin C.  Ginger, even when used in Ginger Ale, is known for its positive effects on an upset stomach, or medically, on gastrointestinal distress. Ginger is a great way to quell motion sickness. It also has some anti-inflammatory benefits.In addition to exuding and incredible aroma when cooked, cinnamon has health-promoting properties, making it one of the world’s healthiest spices. Cinnamon promotes anti-clotting, can control blood sugar and improves digestive health.

Tumeric

Tumeric is low in cholesterol and low in sodium. The yellow tumeric also provides dietary fiber, Iron, Manganese, Magnesium, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, and Potassium. Tumeric is considered one of the world’s healthiest spices because of its anti-inflammatory qualities, it aids in digestion and it can help heal wounds.

Thyme

Thyme has a minty flavor and immune-enhancing properties. Preliminary studies show that it may increase the amount of omega-3 fatty acids present in kidney and brain cells. Like other spices, thyme is an excellent antioxidant and is rich in antibacterial and antispasmodic properties.

Conclusion

Marinating meat, fish, and poultry significantly decreases the amount of carcinogenic heterocyclic amines (HCAs) produced when the meat is cooked at high temperatures, like in grilling. Like i stated before, a moderate amount of marinade is acceptable. My suggestion is if you do decide to marinade, look at the ingredients of the marinade of choice and opt for something with natural ingredients and limited preservatives. If that isn’t an option opt for the spices listed above instead.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions.

From South Bend,
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GAME DAY NUTRITION

GAME DAY NUTRITION

The idea for this blog came about from a call I got from a professional athlete this week who told me their “nutritionist” recommended fig newtons, vanilla wafers, and carbo-loading with pasta when suggesting things for this professional team to eat. WOW!

The average American consumes 20 pounds of pasta noodles each year — and most of it is the refined white stuff.

Most athlete’s  eat close to 10 times this much with their generic “pre-game” and “post-game” pasta dishes that have become common place in many athletic diets. In my experience in collegiate and professional hockey, we were served processed-white noodles 5 times during a weekend series! (Thursday night, Friday pre-game meal, Friday post-game meal, Saturday pre-game meal, and Saturday post-game meal). Looking back it is no wonder why sometimes I felt bogged down or felt like I had a tough time recovering. It’s obvious to me that “refueling” and “preparing” my muscles with starchy and processed-white noodles, that are stripped of almost all their nutrients and minerals due to the amount of processing they go through. probably wasn’t doing the trick. To top it all off(literally) I would dress these noodles with high sugar/high sodium/artificial sauces that spike your blood sugar and send your insulin levels on a roller coaster ride. My question is, why do athletes continue to “carbo-load” with these types of food?

Key Points

  • Glycogen is the key energy source your muscles use during most sports activities. These glycogen levels are filled up and stored up to 48 hours before your event. What you eat the day prior and night prior to your game or event is as/more important than what you eat on game day. Your game day meal is intended to supplement glycogen levels, keep you satiated, and stabilize blood sugar levels.
  • What you eat means nothing if your muscles aren’t properly hydrated. Again, the day before is just as important. Aim for 1/2  your body weight (lbs) in ounces from just water.
  • Allowing time for digestion is vital but eating too far an advance will cause you to feel hungry before/during the game. My suggestion is to aim for a medium to large meal 4 hours before game.
  • Your meal should consist of 50% carbs, 25 % protein, 25% fat.
  • 60-90 minutes before the game consuming a simple carbohydrate such as a piece of fruit will help provide extra energy that will be available during the game.

Typical Pregame Meal

The Problem

1. The Size: Processed carbohydrates like pasta noodles don’t keep you satiated. In order to feel full from pasta you have to eat a lot. This problem is amplified in athletes  because they generally have a huge appetite and require mounds of pasta consumed to meet their needs.

2. The Composition: Standard pastas are made with refined wheat flour. During the refining process, the nutrient-rich outer bran shell and inner germ layer are removed from the grain, leaving just the starchy endosperm. This process strips the wheat of much of its fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, leaving you with a much weaker product, nutritionally speaking. Some nutrients, including iron and a handful of B vitamins, are added back during manufacturing (hence the term “enriched flour”), but these represent only a fraction of what is initially removed from the grain.

3. The Carbohydrate Complex: Pasta is a simple carbohydrate. It breaks down to sugar in your body quickly and often does not satisfy your appetite as long as a more complex carbohydrate such as sweet potatoes. Whole wheat pasta takes a bit longer and some has a protein content that keeps you satisfied longer. This is why many athlete’s who eat pasta find themselves getting hungry before or during the game. Yes, a carbohydrate is a very important macro-nutrient  supplying your body with glucose, which is the favored fuel for your muscles, brain, and central nervous system. Choosing a carbb that will deliver a steady stream of glucose to your body will help regulate your energy levels.

4. The Toppings: Most Pasta is cooked in unhealthy vegetable oils and topped with a canned Alfredo or marinara that is loaded with sugar, sodium, and other artificial ingredients.

5. Your Body’s Ability To Adjust: Most conscious and high level athletes try and eat a clean diet made up of lean meats, fruits, and vegetables. Filling your body with refined pasta noodles for an entire weekend can send your body into shock and cause digestive issues. Your digestive system can react negatively to the amount of processed food that has been consumed because it is used to otherwise whole/natural foods. This can cause bloating, stomach issues, and have lethargic implications.

What To Eat Instead

Complex Carbohydrates From Unprocessed Sources

Quinoa-A healthy complex carb that is actually a seed and can be made a complete protein when paired with other foods.

Amaranth– Technically, it’s not a grain; it’s the fruit of a plant. And that’s the reason it contains a more complete protein, and more of it, than other traditional grains.

Barley & Steel Cut Oats– A great option in the morning of a game day that will deliver a steady supply of glucose throughout the day.

Legumes– Black beans, chickpeas, and lentils are all great options for complex carbs that also provide a steady supply of protein and fiber.

Starchy Vegetables- Foods like sweet potatoes and squash that are usually shunned by low-carb lovers are  acceptable for athletes who will use the large amounts of carbs from these whole foods as energy for game time.

All Vegetables- Getting your carbohydrate sources from whole foods such as vegetables will ensure you are receiving the adequate vitamins, minerals  and nutrients that accompany natural-base carbohydrates. Unlike refined flours and pastas,which are stripped of most of the essential vitamins and nutrients that provide your body with energy, vegetables are natural foods from the earth that are identifiable for our digestive system and wont cause any gastrointestinal problems that are associated with many processed foods.

Lean Meats– While protein takes longer to digest, it will keep you satiated during the game and provide your muscles with a steady influx of protein to help with muscle recovery and muscle maintenance.

Great Examples

1. Chicken Breast with baked sweet potatoes and green salad.

A Pre-Game Meal for the Phillies

2. Chicken breast with Quinoa and asparagus.

3. 2 pieces of cod over a mixed green salad with carrots, parsnips, and potatoes.

Conclusion

Many athletes still dont understand what they need to properly fuel their bodies. Unfortunately many of the nutritionists and chefs that cook or prepare meals for this demographic don’t understand macro-nutrient profiles of foods either. My suggestion to all the athlete’s and people I talk to is ask questions and do your own research. If a nutritionist recommends to eat pasta on a game day ask them why and see what kind of answer you get. Unless you are running a marathon or playing a double header soccer game I never recommend “carbo-loading” with pasta. Most sports, like hockey, require shorts bursts of energy over a 2 hour time period. Eating 200 carbs in the form of pasta for a pregame meal is excessive for most athletes who wont even come close to tapping into all that stored glycogen from a large pasta meal. Keep it moderate and substitute some of my suggestions listed above. Remember, each athlete has their own individual preferences and requirements. Adjust your needs as you see fit and experiment with different foods to see what makes you feel the most energized and helps you recover the fastest.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions.

From South Bend,