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Tips for Picking Out Nutritious Food

Updated on September 21, 2013

Being that I have an interest in nutrition, I'm reading Jo Robinson's book Eating on the Wild Side. The title of the book implies that it is healthier to eat foods that are closer to wild foods that our paleolithic ancestors ate rather than the modern refined and processed foods of today.

Unfortunately, these wild food of long time ago is no longer available in modern supermarkets because we have breed and cross-selected the crop so that they are no longer what they once were.

Nevertheless, the book gives some great tips on how you can select the most nutritious foods from our modern supermarkets and farmer markets. Here are some ...


Purple and yellow carrots have more nutrition than our common orange one. Regardless of type, pick the ones with the green leafy tops still on them. This indicates that they are fresh. Fresh is always better as fruits and vegetables start loosing their nutrients the longer they have been harvested -- some faster than others. Carrots with their tops are at most a few weeks old. Those without their tops can be several months old.

But once you bring the carrots with tops home, cut off the tops before putting them in the refrigerator. This keeps the moisture in the carrots as it no longer loose as much moisture through its leafy tops.

One third of its phytonutrients are in the outer portion of the carrot. Eat carrots with a little bit of fat and then you can absorb more of its beneficial beta-carotene. Beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, is fat soluble. You also get more nutrition if you steam the carrots whole before cutting them.

Some Vegetables are More Nutritious Cooked

Tomatoes and carrots are just some of the vegetables that are more nutritious when cooked. Tomatoes have higher beneficial lycopene when heat is applied. By the way, tiny red cherry tomatoes are more nutritious than big red beef tomatoes. They have up to 12 times more lycopene.

Heat breaks down the carrots' tough cells walls making the nutrients more bioavailable. Cooked carrots have two times as much beta-carotene as raw.

Other foods must always be cooked. This is true of mushrooms and potatoes. See links to my other articles explaining why.

Spinach on the other hand, should not be boiled too much. Boiling spinach for ten minutes will result in 4 times more antioxidants in the liquid than in the spinach. In that case, you mind as well drink the liquid than eating the spinach (not very tasty). Or you can reuse that water to cook rice for example.

Interesting Nutritional Tibits

Shallots are more nutritious than most onions.

Scallions (green onions) are one of the most nutritious alliums. They have 140 times more phytonutrients than common white onions. The stronger the onion, the more potent its antioxidants.

Crush, chop, or press garlic and let stand 10 minutes before applying heat. This enables you to get the beneficial allicin from garlic. Allicin is not in the garlic. It is produced when two ingredients in separate compartment of garlic is comingled. The two ingredients are alliin and alliinase. The latter is a heat-sensitive enzyme that is destroyed by cooking. But if you wait 10 minutes for the allicin to be produced, the allicin is not destroyed by cooking. Others have said the same thing.

Brussels sprouts kill more human cancer cells than all other cruciferious vegetables -- at least that is what it says on page 165 of Eating on the Wild Side.

And on page 169 it writes this about kale...

"One serving of kale has more calcium than six ounces of milk and more fiber than three slices of whole-wheat bread."

and this about artichokes...

"Artichokes have higher ORAC value than all the other fruits and vegetables in the supermarket."

ORAC is Oxygen radical absorbance capacity.

And who says whole wheat bread is healthy? Read why wheat bread is not healthy. Certainly, not healthier than kale.

When people think fiber, they think bran cereals. They forget about fruits and vegetables. When in reality, raspberries have more fiber than bran cereals on a ounce per ounce basis.

The book also says that wild avocado in paleolithic times have gigantic seeds and very little flesh. So could those avocados in the supermarket that have large seed be more nutritious since they were closer to the wild version?


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    • BlissfulWriter profile image

      BlissfulWriter 4 years ago

      You are absolutely right about growing own food and about spinach. In fact, spinach is one of the food with quite high oxalates. I wrote about how to reduce risk of kidney stone via diet:

    • chefsref profile image

      Lee Raynor 4 years ago from Citra Florida

      Hey Blissful

      Good advice here. I want to add that spinach is a bad choice for those with kidney stones because of an abundance of oxalic acid. (Pity, I love spinach and I am subject to kidney stones)

      I also want to add that the best thing we can do for our diet, our budget and the planet is to grow your own food. I was surprised by how much more flavor homegrown produce has compared to store bought. I always thought the statement "Food used to taste better years ago"' was something only old people said but it's true.

      Growing your own even lets you avoid Monsanto and any GMO foods.