Q: I am sick of eating chicken breasts! Is there another healthy meat I can include in my diet? Astor – Victoria, British Columbia
AB: I am with you on this one! Boneless, skinless chicken breasts seem to be the go to “healthy choice” but who decided this was the only option. It is ludicrous to believe that one part of the animal is better for you than others – they all have a place in a healthy diet where variety is key! We are a society caught up in quantity (calorie counting) over quality (nutrient content). In fact, we should be eating every part of the animal to gain the most health benefits. While eating organ meats may be a stretch for some, let’s start by adding in some bone in skin on chicken thighs and legs. Simply roasted, the skin contains valuable fat soluble vitamins and anti-microbial fatty acids, while the dark meat contains more minerals than the white!
Q: What are my best food choices for Vitamin D? Stella - Cochrane, Ontario
AB: Vitamin D is more than just a simple vitamin, this nutrient acts as a potent anti-oxidant and steroid hormone. Vitamin D helps in the prevention of inflammation, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease, Diabetes, multiple sclerosis and other auto-immune diseases. It also helps support brain health, immune function and mental health. We depend mostly on the sun for our daily dose; however most of us cover up with clothes or sun block, making absorption next to impossible. In the winter months our exposure is limited further. While taking a supplement may be your first thought, it is important to note that no nutrient acts in isolation in the body, nor should it be taken in isolation. For this reason your best food choices to supply D is the flesh of fatty fish (salmon, mackerel) egg yolks, organic beef liver or butter. If you choose a supplement, consider quality cod liver oil.
Q: How reliable are food claims on packaged foods?
AB: As human beings we have learned to take things apart – trying to learn what makes up the whole. Food is no exception! While knowing which food contains which nutrient is helpful on one level, it can also lead us astray. An example is when the health conscious consumer buys a product which claims the perfect amount of “fiber” or “no cholesterol”, all the while ignoring the fact that it contains too much sugar or other unwanted ingredients. Being aware of all ingredients in a food is just as important as what is not in the food. Choosing a beverage that is “high in Vitamin C” may not be the right choice, if it’s also high in sugar and lacks fiber.