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What’s for Dinner (or Should be)

You can harvest and roast your own sunflower seeds by drying a mature sunflower.

As more research analyzes the nutritional value of foods, the media sensationalizes certain foods and propels their popularity forward.  Nutritionists end up seemingly sending mixed messages and changing our story about the elements of a healthy diet; however, there are thousands of compounds in foods that scientists are just discovering.  So as new research is conducted, try to be flexible and consider new information.  In truth, there is no one thing you should eat that will keep you healthy until you’re on your death bed.  There are, however, some foods that have many nutritional benefits that aren’t currently a standard part of the American diet.  So, what have you got to lose by trying them?

1. Grain: barely or bulgur
Nutritional benefit: 1 cup of either contains 4-6g of protein, 6-8g of fiber, and 1g or less of fat. They’re both under 200 calories, have more b vitamins than other grains and are good sources of 5-10 minerals (notably folate and iron).

2. Protein: anchovies
Nutritional benefit: 1 ounce is only 60 calories but has 8 grams of protein, 41%of the fat is monounsaturated (for comparison, salmon is about 34%monounsaturated). Also, anchovies are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.

3. Fruit: papaya
Nutritional benefit: 1 papaya contains over 300% of your daily Vitamin C needs and is a great source of folate, potassium, and fiber.  Papaya contains papain, a digestive enzyme that reduces inflammation and lycopene (a trendy phytochemical that helps protect against cancer).

4. Vegetable: leafy greens (other than spinach)
Nutritional benefit: Packed with vitamins A, C, K, manganese, fiber, copper, calcium, Vitamin B6 and potassium.  Contrary to popular belief, collard greens (or kale, mustard greens, Swiss chard, and beet greens) do not need to be cooked for an hour to be enjoyable. Simply sauté for 5-10 minutes until tender.

5. Fat: sunflower seeds
Nutritional benefit: 1 ounce (1/4 cup) provides 4 grams of fiber and almost 7 grams of protein for only around 200 calories. They contain a ton of Vitamin E (an antioxidant), and thiamin (vitamin B1).  In addition, they are the highest in phytosterols (which may help reduce cholesterol) of all nuts and seeds that are commonly consumed as snacks.


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