Last week we featured Totally Useless Food information with my downright hilarious guests Nick and Roy, and I loved what they shared. Their random facts and trivia about stuff even I wasn’t prepared for brought some much-needed levity to the podcast airwaves along with some pretty big laughs about all the crazy things they presented.
But this week we’re going to do the opposite: totally useful and slightly random foods. Some facts you can actually take away and start applying to your next mouthful, add to your meal plan, up your nutrition game, and feel like you now know a new thing or two. Unlike other episodes, some of these facts won’t have anything to do with one another or don’t follow a certain theme; they’re just kind of a collection of some tidbits that I’ve been seeing or have wanted to share with you.
So today on Eat This With Lianne: Totally Useful Food! Learn about a random collection of foods that help with weight loss, eye health, sickness. Some you’ve probably heard of, and some totally unexpected. Plus, which food should you bring with you to Mars?
Weight loss foods
Surprisingly, peanut butter is a great aid to weight loss, if you consume it in the right way. That’s because peanut butter is high in fiber and protein, helping you to stay full and satisfied for longer. It also has a low glycemic index, meaning that its energy release is slow and helps to stabilize your blood sugar and lessen the high spikes of energy and lows where you crash.
A review in the Journal of Food Science and Technology said how peanut butter can help people feel more satisfied when compared to the same amount of a carb-heavy snack. Not only that, but peanuts have compounds that improve blood flow and block cholesterol from being absorbed in your body.
I’m definitely not saying to load up on spoonfuls of peanut butter right now, and of course, I’m aware of how many are allergic to peanuts, like my rockstar producer. But for those who are not allergic, in moderation, peanut butter can help with your weight loss goals and be more balanced overall by keeping you fuller for longer.
If you’re allergic to peanut butter or peanuts, green peas can be a great alternative. Green peas are such an excellent source of protein, and the fiber is WAY up there too. Not only do they increase hormones that reduce appetite, but their protein and fiber in general are far more filling than carbs, especially all those processed, white types that I know you crave. The fiber is also great cause it keeps you “regular.” It “moves things along” as my mother used to say because she didn’t do toilet talk, but it also is very good at promoting the good bacteria and probiotics in the digestive tract, decreasing the risk of GI conditions like IBD and even colon cancer.
Foods for eye health
Next up is tuna: typically getting a bad wrap as being high in heavy metals like mercury (we’ll come back to that later)–but it’s amazing for your eyes. Tuna contains incredibly important nutrients like Vitamin B12, which helps with transporting oxygen around your body, supporting energy levels, your mood, and your strength. It also contains antioxidants that protect your cells and your tissues from damage.
But beyond that, tuna is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which you’ve probably heard over and over again as things that are important for your brain and your heart health and can help reduce inflammation. But omega-3s are so important for your eyes, and specifically dry eye syndrome or overall degeneration including macular degeneration.
Did you know that the retina of the eye has grey matter like that in your brain? I’m sure you remember that I’ve said that fish, healthy fats, and omega 3s help with memory, concentration, and mood. If we supply more DHA (an essential omega 3) to our body and brain through foods like tuna or an omega 3 supplement, then it only makes sense that we can help prevent some of that vision degeneration or uncomfortable symptoms like dry eyes.
Though eating tuna won’t necessarily cure eye disease, it sure can keep your vision where it’s at and prevent it from getting worse.
And if you’re worried about the heavy metals typically found in tuna more than other fish, buy carefully. My favourite brand is Safe Catch, because they test every single tuna and only allow lower levels of mercury to be canned (in fact way lower than even the FDA allows).
The other way around this is to take a supplement. You’ve heard me talk about my Omega Boost from my Take This supplement line, which has a really powerful mix of omega 3 fats called DHA and EPA. A combination like this can support heart health, aging, eyesight, asthma, eczema, behaviour and learning challenges, and can help to lower inflammation overall.
The fructose in dates can also definitely help you get rid of that afternoon slump and aid with eye health. On top of that, dates are rich in antioxidants like carotenoids found in carrots and orange foods, and they help with inflammation and protect your tissues against damage. This is where your eye health comes in and where these antioxidants are especially important for protecting against disorders like night blindness and macular degeneration.
Spice up your healing
Let’s turn up the heat with this next one and go SPICY! You’ve probably heard some common remedies for fighting a cold, like ginger, honey, tea, and chicken soup. Those actually have a lot of well-researched compounds that can help you recover and while you’re sick.
So on top of that reach for those chili peppers more often. Don’t go there if you’ve got an upset stomach, no, no, that would make that worse, but if you’ve got a cold, stuffed up nose, maybe even allergies, going spicy might be the way forward.
Spicy foods have a compound called capsaicin, it’s the thing that causes that hot burning sensation. At high enough levels and after a certain period of time, capsaicin is a great pain and cough reliever, making you less sensitive to irritation. But more importantly, capsaicin tends to cause runny noses, which is actually a good thing when you’re all stuffed up and sick. It can help to break up or thin out mucus and clear out your sinus passages. If you’re not good with spicy, then any sweet peppers will do; they’re just quite as powerful and potent.
If there’s one food that you might want to take on a long trip to Mars, it might just be potatoes.
Well, thank goodness we have access to grocery stores so we don’t have to just live off of one food, but surprisingly, potatoes are nutrient dense and not a bad way to get most of your nutrient requirements. That’s exactly what Andrew Taylor thought, an Australian man famous for eating nothing but potatoes for a year in order to fight a food addiction and lose weight. Supposedly, a lot of his food cravings actually stopped because of this strange diet. Of course, I would totally not recommend this, but it’s an interesting idea to see what makes potatoes so special. They’re really starchy and have an unusually high amount of proteins with a variety of amino acids. On top of making you really full and satisfied, potatoes also contain Vitamin C, Vitamin B, and potassium. In short, they have a little bit of everything, so while I usually say go for the sweet potato, don’t feel bad if the white version is still on your list.
Get more recipes in my book Sprout Right Family Food.
Recipes with some of these totally useful foods are available in my book Sprout Right Family Food—plus everything there is to know about getting your family off to a nutritious start, from birth to school age and beyond.
Get Sprout Right Family Food now!