The Best Specialty Foods
(this is another installment of the 'A-List' Carbohydrates)
The foods in this list have two things in common-
- They are super healthful.
- They don't quite fit the foods in our other lists.
You are probably familiar with a lot of these foods but likely never considered getting them at the grocery store (or possibly never even tried them). All those these foods have a super low or non-existent glycemic load and are perfect to eat with our fat/weight loss diets.
Two of the foods in particular (the first two starred foods) are arguably the very best foods on the entire planet in terms of overall nutrition and immunity.
Aloe Vera Juice (Unrefined)
Aloe vera juice contains eight essential sugars (different from table sugar, doesn't spike your blood sugar) that have healing and medicinal properties. Aloe reduces internal inflammation and speeds external healing. It has been used to treat diarrhea, constipation and other gastrointestinal problems.
Go with unrefined, unsweetened, organic aloe vera juice to ensure you are getting all of the nutritional benefits out of the juice. You can always add a little Stevia extract if it isn't sweet enough. The girls I live with drink it by the jug. They even put vodka in.
Not surprisingly, there is a big difference between 100% organic aloe vera and the "regular" kinds. If you haven't had the real deal, I'd reserve judgement. Though it may sound ignorant, 100% pure aloe vera juice "just tastes healthy".
And That's because it is.
(Anticancer, Nutrient Powerhouse)
Kimchi (in sauerkraut) with hard boiled eggs and safflower mayonnaise is my new go to meal on the fat loss diet. It tastes like a healthier version of egg salad and it is actually pretty filling, even though it is super low in calories.
Kimichi is my new favorite food and most grocery stores actually have it. Despite popular opinion, it isn't "one of those stinky Asian foods" that smell up the house. It is basically just a way more tasty (and usually more nutritious) salad.
Kimchi is made up of powerhouse ingredients- Chinese cabbage, garlic, red pepper, radish, onion, ginger and many times include varying seafood, like squid. Some of these ingredients are on our A-Lists, like garlic and onions because they provide so many health benefits on their own. Garlic can reduce bad cholesterol and fight colorectal cancer cells, among many other things- See A-List Vegetables. Cabbage also provides anticancer benefits. And onions are antiviral and protect the heart- See A-List Vegetables.
Kimchi has anticancer properties. It protects your heart. And It's fermented- providing living probiotics that improve your immune system.
If I could recommend one food you could eat around cold season that might actually prevent you from getting sick- Kimchi would be it.
Compounds in this super salad can reduce inflammation and help prevent MANY degenerative diseases, including heart disease. Kimchi is also loaded with antioxidant, anti-mutagenic and anti-carcinogenic properties.
Across the board - this is one of the best foods you can put inside your mouth and swallow.
(Anticancer, Nutrient Powerhouse)
Often thought of as a messy hot dog containment - good-quality sauerkraut is actually one of the very best foods you can eat.
Sauerkraut, like kimchi, is fermented. The fermentation process creates live probiotic cultures that are packed with nutritional benefits and helps feed the healthy bacteria in your gut, which improves your immune system, digestion and your body's ability to absorb and use nutrients.
Like kimchi, the probiotics in sauerkraut help prevent A LOT of chronic degenerative diseases and may even help ward off the common cold.
Sauerkraut is made up of cabbage, which provides powerful phytochemicals and indoles that fight cancer as well. Red and purple cabbage, interestingly enough, have an entirely different set of phytochemicals and flavonoids that fight similar diseases.
Fermenting cabbage goes a step beyond and creates isothiocyanates, which have been shown to prevent cancer growth. Fermenting also makes the anticancer compounds more simple for the body to absorb. They also acts as powerful antioxidants.
Don't dismiss sauerkraut has that "weird, tasteless" stuff that falls off your hot dog (why are you eating hot dogs?) - it's MUCH MORE than that.
(Anticancer, Nutrient Powerhouse)
I won't hold it against you if you have no desire to buy seaweed (the taste is underrated though)- it's a girl's food.
Still, I'd like you to know how good it is for you.
It's 500x more healthy than the lettuce in the basic salad.
Seaweed is loaded with uncommon trace elements and minerals that are not found in other foods or supplements.
These rare, you-can-barely-pronouce compounds detoxify your body and might have additional benefits that science has not confirmed.
Seaweed is also super protective against environmental pollutants and radiation. It's not surprising that the plant can survive and even thrive in gross, polluted waters while the other plant life dies off.
Most importantly, wakame and kombu seaweed contain a polysaccharide, which has been shown to stop cancer from developing. It is a good source of another anticancer mineral- selenium, as well.
Eat seaweed raw or dried. When seaweed is cooked it looses the fluorine and many of the other health benefits.
(Anticancer, Nutrient Powerhouse)
Sprouts might be the most unappreciated food on the planet.
It is the orphan food.
It is sometimes considered a vegetable and sometimes considered a bean. In your teenage years, eating a sandwich with sprouts in front of your peers was grounds for social banishment, followed by years of being called a "weird loser" or "reject from hell".
The truth is- sprouts are incredibly healthy and more-so than most of the "A-List Vegetables," that the media, nutritionists and hippies fawn over.
A sprout is actually a baby plant that is potent but not yet matured.
When you eat a sprout- you are eating an ENTIRE PLANT. Consider that.
Sounds healthful, right? It is.
Sprouts are a highly concentrated source of enzymes, vitamins, phytonutrients and amino acids.
Broccoli sprouts contain up to 50 times the concentration of protective compounds, like indole-3-carbinol, as whole broccoli. They also significantly help fight cancer by helping to alter estrogen metabolism, which may decrease the risk of hormone-dependent cancers.
Broccoli sprouts are packed with sulforaphane, which helps your body deactivate harmful free radicals and protect against carcinogens.
Buy organic sprouts. Non-organic sprouts can harbor bacteria, so many suppliers bleach the seeds with chlorine, which can be harmful to your body.
In recent years- there was a rather prominent controversy about sprouts carrying e-coli. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention got involved and nearly every grocery store (and producer) issued an immediate recall. To this day- there is fear amongst the general population about this. According to Sonja Petterson N.D. - the potential for sprouts to harbor bacteria is no different than any other food.
In our opinion- if you are eating organic sprouts you should be fine and healthier because of it. The odds are VERY SLIM but you are more likely to run into contaminated sprouts at a deli or fast food sandwich shop - not an organic grocery store.
Vinegar (Unpasteurized, Organic) (Nutrient Powerhouse)
Like seaweed, mushrooms or other unique foods- vinegar has a taste and nutritional profile all to its own.
If, like me, you don't eat salads- chances are that you barely have any of this stuff in your diet and you are probably missing out on a fair amount of inexpensive and convenient nutritional benefits.
Vinegar can be made from fruits or any substance that contains sugar. It is fermented (which we now know how amazing fermented foods are for our health (see kimchi and sauerkraut above). It provides up to fifty separate nutrients, some that come from the source in which it was made, like apples or grapes. Vinegar naturally contains tartaric and malic acids that help rid harmful bacteria from your body and break-down toxins.
Organic, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar is one of the most healthful vinegars you can use. It is packed with nutrients and provides silicon, fluorine, pectin and trace minerals. It also helps control blood sugar and is used to aid weight loss.
See our post on Legit Uses for Apple Cider Vinegar for more.
Buy unpasteurized vinegar. It is better because it is not subjected to massive amounts of heat that destroy nutrients. Look for labels that say "unpasteurized," traditionally brewed (or fermented)," or "unfiltered." Don't waste your money on mass-produced distilled vinegars either. Distilling kills many of the healthy occurring acids in vinegar.
Don't cook with vinegar in cast-iron, copper or aluminum because it's corrosive. Add it to meals after they have been cooked.
Other Healthful Specialty Foods
The above list notes the super special specialty foods that are also conducive to the low-carb lifestyle that we promote to all non/former athletes and bodybuilders. A super low-carb diet has helped me keep unwanted body fat of despite the fact that I only exercise about 2 times a week these day (this will change when the blogs get fixed).
Here are some other goodies that, if nothing else- we acknowledge and feel it necessary to briefly tell you about.
Bee Pollen, Propolis and Royal Jelly
(like honey, all from bees)
Bee Pollen (and Royal Jelly) sounds like one of those totally bullshit miracle supplements. They are probably overrated for the multitude of hippie fabricated benefits that they claim- but one thing is certain. All these compounds (but Royal Jelly to a lesser extent) all fight susceptibility to infections. These compounds are antibacterial, anti-fungal and even antiviral. Basically- they can enhance your immune system. You'd probably have to take them on a daily basis to gain any sort of immunity benefits though.
(real BITTER cocoa, not commercial candy bars)
Like red wine, "The Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate," mainly prevention of cardiovascular disease, has become an excuse for somewhat-nutritionally-misinformed people to indulge or tell their friends that "chocolate is healthy".
While I don't really have a problem with the former, from time-to-time, it is important to note that ANY health benefits that come from dark chocolate are from REAL DARK CHOCOLATE and not commercial candy bar, chocolate ice cream or ANYTHING under '60 percent cocoa'.
At 60 percent and above, the chocolate is very bitter and in most cases- tastes worse than most "good for you" foods. It is NOT like any chocolate you've ever tasted before. It may not have any sugar and if it does- the bitter taste is so strong that you probably can't taste it. You can dip it in Stevie-sweetened unsweetened almond milk to cut the taste.
Green Foods and Green Juice
(ex. barley grass, wheatgrass, microalgae, chlorella, wild blue-green alga)
There are really too many of these to name and share in detail. They are super-concentrated "shots" of nutrition.
They are best consumed if you make them yourself from fresh glass/greens and not buying some "Jamba Juice" high-sugar commercial version.
I can't deny that these aren't good, but they aren't super convenient or tasty like the Barlean's Chocolate Silk supplement is, which offers many of the same benefits.
(not the candy)
Like dark chocolate, we aren't talking about candy.
We are talking about the perennial herb that ranks 6th overall (of ANY food) in anti-cancer activity on the famous 1997 report entitled, "Phytochemicals: Guardians of Our Health" in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
It can also help sooth the throat and lungs.
Ironically, olive oil (the fat in olives) gets a lot of love but olives are a mere afterthought, even among registered nutritionists like myself.
Most nutritionists (and dieticians) don't even know what health benefits olives actually have.
The truth is- the olives you see on a weekly basis and certainly the processed ones in jars at grocery store, have virtually no benefits. None.
There are a handful of organic grocery stores, like Whole Foods, that have "olive bars" that give you the choice of numerous different non-processed olives that have NOT been treated with lye to remove the excessive bitterness and submerged in a salt and preservative bath. These lucky olives are what they look and taste like in their natural state and have several phytochemicals that help your body resist various diseases and even DNA damage.
So that's it (for now) on The Best Speciality Foods.
If you have one that you eat and want to share it with us, you are encouraged to talk about it below.
I might add it to the list if you are really convincing!