Back-to-School Shopping? Power Up With the Healthy Basics

Posted on by Neal Barnard, MD, FACC

back-to-school-foodWhether you’re stocking up on school supplies or hosting a Labor Day party, make sure to add brightly-hued, plant-based foods to your family’s back-to-school shopping list. A diet packed with vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes provides our bodies with a steady supply of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals. This makes it easy to power through almost anything, whether it’s running a company, directing a car pool, or helping your child study for his or her next algebra test. Not sure where to start? Try one or all of these seasonal staples: Apples and pears are a portable, fiber-packed snack. Apples are also the preferred fruit for U.S. students and young adults. Plus, adults who eat at least one apple or pear each day – compared to those who avoid fruit – slash their risk of stroke by 40%. Cucumbers and radishes contain at least 95% water, which makes it easy to stay hydrated during the last few weeks of summer. Berries, like raspberries and blackberries, pair well with oats for a nutrient-dense breakfast. The resveratrol in berries also decreases estrogen production, reducing the risk of hormone-related cancers, particularly breast, endometrial, and uterine cancer Corn contains soluble fiber and helps women retain extra calcium in their bones. You can throw an ear of corn on the grill or pair it with beans, vegetables, and herbs for a colorful side salad. Peppers contain lycopene, which boosts immune function. They also add extra zest to entrées, eliminating the need to rely on artery-clogging condiments like meats, cheeses and oils. Lima beans are rich in protein, add texture to dishes, and provide healthy amounts of fiber, protein, iron, and manganese, a mineral that helps stabilize blood sugar. If you would like to learn more about how the healthy basics – vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes – work synergistically together to boost metabolism, lower blood pressure, restore insulin function, and improve cholesterol, please join the Physicians Committee at one of our free nutrition classes. Photo credit: Steve Shapiro.