FATS AND FEELING BETTER
Want to feel better? Have energy all day and night? Look better in or out of your clothes?
Given the “fat phobia” that Americans have had in the past 20+ years, many people, especially women, have eschewed what we thought were fattening foods in our efforts to stay slim and trim, (avocados, nuts, dried fruit, whole grain breads, real butter, etc).
Instead, we were fed a lot of misconceptions about fats that lost their “healthy” aspect to low or no-fat foods. In the past 8-10 years, I have never seen so many people, particularly women, on anti-depressants.
Is it possible? Could nutritional therapy – as in FOOD – be “the missing link” for those who don’t respond to pills or other conventional therapy? Give me potatoes or a ripe avocado over Prozac any day!
Yes, Trans-fats are nasty and not good for you. However, there are many foods containing fats. animal and vegetable when correctly prepared and consumed, that our bodies can USE to feed the brain and to, in the case of essential fatty acids in avocados, nuts and other good foods, help the body process fats – which helps us utilize the nutrient value of these and other food elements.
Try these for starters:
Breakfast: Oatmeal or 7 grain hot cereal with ground flaxseed and a splash of pomegranate juice. Or, a couple of organic poached eggs over steamed greens, a slice of whole grain bread with a touch of almond butter and a steaming cup of tea with a dash of honey, agave or pure maple syrup.
Lunch: Sliced organic tomato and avocado with olive or walnut oil, wine vinegar, garlic powder, thyme and a touch of dijon mustard, or poached chicken breast with lime butter, sesame seeds and cilentro. Or, a mixed green salad topped with lightly seared tuna strips, walnuts and an olive and sesame oil dressing with fresh lemon juice, minced garlic and a pinch of cayenne and ground flaxseed.
Hungry yet? How about dinner: A steaming bowl or cup of Soupe Verte*, made with olive oil/butter, sautéed leeks and zucchini, add chicken or veggie broth, Swiss chard and fresh basil – blend and top with a dollop of plain yogurt and/or chopped basil, and poached salmon in white wine with mango, scallion and pimento salsa.
Enjoy with your favorite white wine and if you must have fruit, please eat it as an appetizer* (see “Fruit First”) or try a bit of brie and a ripe pear about an hour after dinner.
The common denominator in these meals is the omega-3 fatty acids in the avocado, fish, eggs, almonds, walnuts, oils and flaxseed. Much of the literature these days touts the outstanding effects that Omega-3 essential fatty acids have on the human body and brain.
Mood food? Maybe not what we traditionally think of as mood improving foods, but eat like this and you may see your skin become more supple, your hair and nails grow stronger and your heart may be stronger. With just those things in mind I know a lot of people whose moods would improve without the aid of – dare I say – medication.
Joseph R. Hibbeln M.D. and psychiatric researcher at the National Institutes of Health, says good fatty acids are a key component for the brain, which is 60% fat. Omega-3s, which are supplied by diet alone, (the body does not make them), also “increase mood elevating dopamine and serotonin levels… and appear to support the growth of neural cells and increase blood flow”.
Hibbeln concluded, after several studies, that an inadequate intake of omega-3s markedly increases the risk for depression. David Mischoulon, M.D.,Ph.D, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and researcher, reported that omega-3 fatty acids in foods tend not to interact with drugs, and he too, is researching their impact on depression and mood enhancement.
Another benefit of eating foods with omega-3s is the likelihood that your weight will “self-adjust” as your body processes the good fats that eliminate the bad ones without a battle.
For more specific ideas and recipes, see below and email me:
RICKI McKENNA’S “SOUPE VERTE”
1 Bunch Fresh Green Swiss Chard –Remove stems and cut cross- wise in about 1” slices
1 Medium to large zucchini Chopped
1 Medium to large leek Chopped
1 cup Fresh Basil sliced same as the chard
4-6 Cups Chicken Broth (or veggie broth for vegetarians)
1 Tbsp. Olive oil
1 Tbsp. Butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Melt oil and butter together in large soup pot. Stir in chopped leek and saute until clear, about 8 minutes. Pour in about 2 cups of the broth and bring to boil, add chopped zucchini and lower broth to simmer. Simmer about 10 minutes or until zucchini is soft. Add either 2 or 3 more cups of the broth (less makes a thicker soup) and let simmer for about 5 minutes.
Take the pot OFF the heat and add the sliced chard and the basil, stir it all together and cover the pot. Let it sit off the heat for about 5-8 minutes until the chard and basil are wilted. Put the mixture through the blender and return to the pot. (Hint: Use a 2 cup measuring cup or other small vessel to move the soup into the blender a little at a time) Put blended soup in a new pot and stir and serve either hot or cold. Garnish with a dollop of fresh plain yogurt and / or chopped basil. Sprinkle a little grated parmesean cheese on top.
Serve as a first course or with a salad and good piece of bread and fresh sweet butter as a great light meal.