Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Your Total Food Makeover

Valentine's Day is over. Time to back away from the box of chocolates and get back to eating healthier! Just in case threats don't work on you, I have some findings, dear readers:

Cuter and perkier than this girl? Yes, you!
1) If Valentine's Day this year was a bust for you, consider eating more carrots in 2011. The Week reports a recent study wherein folks who ate lots of carrots, bell peppers, strawberries, and leafy greens developed attractive, healthy glows that test participants preferred to non-veggie-devouring people with suntans. Of course, they neglected to run this study in the glorious Pacific Northwest, where lack of sunshine prevents having any sort of group to compare against. I don't know if I buy these findings one bit, but it's a good one to tell your kids.

2) Not only can eating poorly make you pastier and less attractive, it can also bum you out. (Perhaps a chicken-and-egg situation?) A pair of universities studied the effects of trans-fat consumption on mental health and discovered the olive-oil camp was considerably less depressed. Out of the 12,059 study participants, 657 developed cases of depression over the course of the study, with trans-fat eaters recording a monstrous 48% increase in risk. Yikes! Their conclusion: for optimum mental health, stick with olive oil and polyunsaturated fats, including fish oil.

3) If you've been wondering how all this vegetable consumption will affect the bottom line, the USDA assures us that the recommended daily allowance of fruits and vegetables can be had for $2-2.50/day. Unfortunately, being the USDA, they include juices and processed fruits/veggies in these daily servings, with the real McCoys being on the more expensive end. Nor do they account for the added costs of organic produce, but I suppose a pesticide-laden bell pepper will still be better for the bod than a bag of Doritos. All that veggie goodness, for less than a daily latte at Starbucks!

4) And lastly, speaking of the USDA, you might have heard about the new dietary guidelines they've put out, in the exalted tradition of the Four Food Groups and the Food Pyramid. Naturally concessions had to be made to powerful agro-industrial interests, but they're worth checking out. One key recommendation: "Eat less." Dang. Marion Nestle offers a collection of takes on it, for your reading pleasure.

So there's your makeover! Drizzle your $2.50-worth of vegetables in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, give them a roast in a hot oven, skip the processed snacks and heavy desserts, and voila! A glowing, perkier you. Enjoy.

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