Health & Wellness

Add These 5 Foods to Your Diet to Enhance Your Health

by Pam Smith –

There are numerous often-ignored foods that fit the bill for healthier eating. Adding the following five foods to your grocery cart can help in your quest for a healthier you:  bulgur, chickpeas, kale, spaghetti squash and sunflower seeds. While unfamiliar to some, these foods are readily accessible in most grocery stores and can really expand a person’s daily diet without expanding their waistlines.

Bulgur: This whole-wheat product is a good substitution for rice or potatoes that has a mild, nutty flavor and chewy texture. It is packed with eight grams of fiber and six grams of protein per cup, and it clocks in at only about 150 calories. It is also a good source of vitamins and minerals; particularly B vitamins and manganese. The fiber and protein in whole-wheat products like bulgur help keep us feeling full throughout the day. Bulgur has a fairly low glycemic index, so it does not dramatically raise blood sugar like refined flour products like white potatoes or white rice.  It can typically be found in the same aisle as rice and beans.

Chickpeas (garbanzo beans): Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, are healthy, versatile and inexpensive legumes that are very easy to prepare. They can even be consumed right out of the can. One cup of chickpeas has 13 grams of fiber, 15 grams of protein and three grams of healthy fat. They also have antioxidant properties and are loaded with vitamins and minerals. Most of the fiber in chickpeas is insoluble fiber, which is great for digestive health. Individuals who eat them typically have better blood sugar regulation since chickpeas are so high in fiber and protein. They can be found in the canned foods section or with the dried beans.

Kale: Kale is a leafy green vegetable that is loaded with antioxidant vitamins A, C and K, and it is a good source of essential minerals like copper, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus. The vitamins in kale are associated with anti-cancer health benefits, and the fiber in kale helps bind cholesterol in the body, which improves heart health. Individuals should include cruciferous vegetables like kale in their diet at least four to five times per week. A cup of this vegetable, which can be found in the produce department, is only about 40 calories.

Spaghetti squash: Spaghetti squash is the low-carbohydrate alternative to spaghetti pasta; the inner flesh of this squash pulls into strands, resembling the popular pasta. A one-cup serving of spaghetti squash has 10 grams of carbohydrates as compared to about 45 grams in one cup of pasta or rice. One cup has only 42 calories and offers important health benefits. Like all vegetables, spaghetti squash provides the body with essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, B-vitamins and manganese. And it’s very versatile; you can bake or steam your spaghetti squash before adding it to recipes, or eat it as a side dish with your favorite lean meat.

Sunflower seeds: Sunflower seeds are generally less expensive than other nuts, and they offer many of the same health benefits as popular choices like almonds and walnuts. A quarter cup of sunflower seeds has three grams of fiber and six grams of protein. Unsalted sunflower seeds contain healthy fats, but they are high in calories at about 280 per quarter cup. Sunflower seeds are a good source of copper, vitamin E, selenium and manganese. Shelled, unsalted sunflower seeds can be found in the nut section, and they can be added to salads or yogurt, or eaten plain. The vitamin E in sunflower seeds offers significant anti-inflammatory effects; and it is an antioxidant, so it also plays an important role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease.

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10 years ago

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10 years ago

Answer me this: Is bulgur wheat gluten free?

10 years ago

I grew up on a wheat farm in Kansas and can tell you that wheat is a wonderful product and very nutritious when used as a whole grain to make bread, cereal and other nutrious foods. No one had any of these diseases and all of my family lived into their mid to late 90’s and died in their own homes eating not only wheat, but putting cream in their coffee direct from the dairy cows; using whole milk;baking with Crisco; and eating eggs, bacon, and buscuits every morning for breakfast. No one had any of these diseases or even knew about them, including diabetes nor were they excessively overweight.. I think that the real culprit is the inactive lifestyle and food processing. I think pretty much any food is fine when prepared as fresh food from the source and part of an active lifestyle.

10 years ago

Pam’s article is right on, informative and accurate. These foods can improve your health. Thanks for sharing clear info. Kd

M Win
10 years ago

> Certainly if you have gluten intolerance, avoid all products that contain wheat.
> If you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), avoid anything containing wheat. Common IBS symptoms include bloating, gas and other digestive complications after eating certain foods.
> If you have a wheat allergy, avoid bulgur.

Most people may do pretty well with it. However, bulgur can cause sudden bloating and gas in some people. Perhaps the article should just include a sentence or word of caution.

10 years ago

PS- now if you have Celiac Disease wheat would be a problem, but if you are diagnosed with CD then you would already know to avoid it.

10 years ago

Bulgur is Low-Glycemic and is not the same as wheat flour which is common in breads and pastas and it High-Glycemic

Bulgur (cracked wheat) is a quick-cooking form of whole wheat that has been cleansed, parboiled, dried, and ground into particles. Because it’s precooked, you need only pour boiling water over it, cover, and let it sit for about ten minutes. It cooks so quickly that adding this delicious, healthy, low-glycemic whole grain to meals is easy.

Bulgur has a low glycemic index of 48, and one cup of it has fewer calories yet more than twice the fiber of rice! It’s also a good source of manganese and B vitamins.

Contrary to “M Win”‘s post it won’t raise your blood sugar like wheat flour would.

10 years ago

This is a great article. I would like to see more articles like this including foods we should work into our diet (as this article states), why those foods are good for us, any specific conditions these help improve (hbp, heart, cholesterol, weight management, metabolism, etc). Also, perhaps some recipes or easy ways to work these foods into our diet. BRAVO AMAC!

M Win
10 years ago

I agree with SYod above.

Some studies conducted have concluded that wheat increases the potential for a surprising number of health problems and raises blood sugar significantly. Much more than most other foods. And this is no longer a topic of controversy.
Wheat also has negative impact to blood sugar, it contributes to accumulated fat, contributes to high blood pressure in some folks and initiates inflammatory processes and there are claims about its association with coronary heart disease.
What is good to say about it – not much.

The article on foods to include in your diet is a very good thing to do. Would like to see more. However, a little more research should be conducted before recommending that the general population consume foods that research is showing may be bad for your health – as in wheat in this article.

10 years ago

I’d like to see articles on removing wheat from our diets b/c of the devastating effects on our bodies. Fifty+ years ago wheat was geneticly altered to improve the producing rate i.e. two harvests per year opposed to one. The result was tens of thousands of hybridization experiments, without a single effort of safety testing. What we now call “wheat” is not the pure wheat of the “pre-sixties” and we are seeing it manifested the amount of those now living with “glutten intolerance” and a severe allergy reaction due to the consumption of wheat products. We also see the results in the size and health of those who consume more wheat products than meat, fruit and vegetables. you find wheat added to everything so label reading is of the utmost importance.
Help America wake up to what is being fed to us as “healthy”. Todays’ wheat is NOT healthy for us, even for those without an intolerance to it.

10 years ago
Reply to  SYod

Do you know what “genetically altered” means? Genetically altering crops is just purposeful cross pollination to produce a disease resistance variety, or faster growing and maturing, or whatever characteristic they are trying to enhance. Every different breed of dog, or cat, or horse, etc., has been genetically altered. They have been selectively bred to produce certain characteristics — like flat snouts, coats that don’t shed, hunting ability, increased herding instincts, ability to run fast or jump high, etc., etc., etc. (And you are actually a genetic alteration of your parents!)

The gluten intolerance and allergies are not the fault of the wheat or allergen. It is because of our obsession with purifying everything and keeping everything virtually germ free so that now we have a whole generation that never had the chance to build up normal immunities to their environment, like past generations did.

10 years ago
Reply to  GJW

You are absolutely correct. Genetically altered foods have nothing to so with what SYod is talking about. This is the same argument the European Union has been having for decades to the point where it has taken on nearly religious over-tones. Virtually everything you put in your mouth today has been genetically been altered, to one degree or another, over the centuries due to nature itself.

10 years ago

This is the type if info that should be included more often

10 years ago

Good tips on how we can help ourselves to a healthier diet and a healthier life. It might be interesting to offer a similar piece on exercise tips, routines easy to fit into daily activities that don’t require expensive equipment, such as stretches, weight-training with canned veggies, push-ups against a door frame, etc. Maybe a piece on medication awareness, both prescription and over-the- counter.

10 years ago

Very good article. You should do more of these on a regulare basis. Taking even better care of yourself will be absolutely vital in the age of Obamacare.

10 years ago
Reply to  PaulE

I call it 0care (zerocare).

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