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Focus: Why do we need such a large quantity of antioxidants each day?

The focus of Week 1 is to eat more antioxidant-rich foods, which helps cleanse the body of free radicals and provide you with increased energy. Antioxidants are dietary compounds that directly bind to and destroy free radicals (also known as reactive oxygen species, or ROS) that cause oxidative damage to cells. Since each cell is barraged by 10,000 free radicals each day, we need more antioxidants from food than you could imagine—each day—to neutralize free radicals and guard the health of our cells. When free radicals damage the structure and function of cells, they can't work well; this can lead to reduced energy, loss of skin elasticity, impaired vision, atherosclerosis, and cell changes that can lead to cancer. As you can see, antioxidants can play an important role in promoting our health by helping to protect us from these various conditions. (For more on Cellular Nutrition, see page 71 of The World's Healthiest Foods book.)


This week you'll learn more about antioxidants—what they are and why they are important—as well as focus on incorporating more antioxidant-rich fruits into your diet. You'll also learn preparation techniques for foods included in this week's menu, such as broccoli, salmon, lemon juice, garlic, onions, salad greens, papaya, blueberries, and more.

The Menu for Week 1 includes recipes that feature creative ways of enjoying fruit throughout your meal. It can be enjoyed as lunch or dinner.

Week 1 Menu:
  • 7-Minute "Quick Broiled" Salmon with Ginger Papaya Salsa
  • 5-Minute Green Salad with Healthy Vinaigrette
  • Asian-Style Broccoli with Red Onions
  • Blueberry Parfait
  • Healthy Lifestyle Tea

7-Minute "Quick Broiled" Salmon

This recipe is featured on page 481 of The World's Healthiest Foods book.

  1. Preheat the broiler and place an all stainless steel skillet (be sure that the handle is also stainless steel) or cast iron pan under the heat for about 10 minutes to get it very hot. The pan should be about 5 to 7 inches from the heat source.
  2. While pan is heating, chop or press garlic and let it sit for at least 5 minutes. Letting it sit before cooking it helps to preserve its health-promoting phytonutrients.
  3. Rub salmon with 2 tsp fresh lemon juice, salt, and pepper. You can "Quick Broil" with the skin on—it just takes a minute or two longer. The skin will peel right off after cooking.
  4. Using a hot pad, pull pan away from heat and place Salmon on the hot pan, skin side down. Return to broiler. Keep in mind that it is cooking rapidly on both sides, so it will be done very quickly, usually in 7 minutes (it may vary a little depending on thickness). Test with a fork for doneness. It will flake easily when it is cooked. Salmon is best when it is still pink inside.
  5. Dress with extra virgin olive oil, 1 TBS lemon juice, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Serve with Ginger Papaya Salsa (see recipe on following page).

Preparation Tips: Salmon

Cooking salmon with the skin on will help to keep it moist. It is best to cook the salmon with the skin side down. After the salmon is done cooking, the skin can be easily removed with a fork. While some people like to eat the skin of fish and it is a nutrient-rich portion of the fish (containing, for example, important concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids), it's best to only do so if you are sure that the fish came from clean waters, since the skin can be a source of contaminants.

To remove the bones from salmon fillets: Lay salmon fillet skin side down and run your fingers along the flesh in both directions until you locate the line of bones. Pull bones out one at a time with fingers or tweezers. Cut fillet into desired size.

Preparation Tip: Quick Broil

To "Quick Broil," you want to first preheat the broiler. It heats up very quickly so you don't have to have the broiler on for very long. Place stainless steel skillet (with steel handle) or cast iron skillet under broiler to get it hot. Preheating the pan allows the fish or meat that is being "Quick Broiled" to cook on both sides at one time. Because the pan is so hot, it immediately seals the fish or meat on the bottom to retain the juices and keeps it from sticking to the pan. For more on "Quick Broil," see page 60 of The World's Healthiest Foods book.

Preparation Tip: Lemon juice

Rinse lemon before cutting. It's best to juice a lemon when it's at room temperature since it produces more juice when it is not cold. Roll the lemon under the palm of your hand on a flat surface to extract more juice. Cut the lemon in half, removing the visible seeds from the fruit. You can juice the lemon using a juicer or reamer, or squeezing it by hand.

Preparation Tip: Garlic

Separate the individual cloves by placing bulb on cutting board and gently, but firmly, applying pressure with the palm of your hand at an angle. This will cause the layers of skin that hold the bulb together to separate. Alternatively, you can insert a knife between the individual cloves to separate them from the rest of the bulb.

To peel the skin off of the clove, place the side of a chef's knife on it and give it a quick whack with the palm of your hand. This will loosen the skin so you can easily remove it. Slice the garlic into 1/16-inch pieces. Then cut across the slices of garlic using a rocking motion with your knife, chopping it into the desired size. For minced garlic, chop fine.

Let garlic sit for 5–10 minutes before incorporating it into recipe to allow the conversion of the maximum amount of garlic's sulfur-containing phytonutrients to occur. This will greatly enhance its health-promoting benefits. You'll notice that as you let it sit, its notably pungent aroma appears; that's because the same compounds responsible for its health benefits are also responsible for its famous smell and flavor. For more information on the importance of letting garlic sit before cooking it or eating it, see page 261 of The World's Healthiest Foods book.


Ginger Papaya Salsa

The Ginger Papaya Salsa is to be served with the 7-Minute "Quick Broiled" Salmon.

This recipe is featured on page 377 of The World's Healthiest Foods book.

  1. Dice papaya.
  2. Combine it in bowl with cilantro, ginger, and lime juice.

Preparation Tip: Papaya

Rinse papaya under cool running water. Cut papaya in half and spoon out seeds from center. Cut off peel with a sharp knife. Cut papaya lengthwise into strips about 1-inch wide and then cut across papaya strips in 1-inch increments to end up with small cubes of papaya.

Preparation Tip: Lime juice

Rinse lime before cutting. It's best to juice a lime when it's at room temperature since it produces more juice when it is not cold. Roll the lime under the palm of your hand on a flat surface to extract more juice. Cut the lime in half, removing the visible seeds from the fruit. You can juice the lime using a juicer or reamer, or squeezing it by hand.

Preparation Tip: Ginger

There are two basic ways to peel ginger. If the skin is soft you can use the rounded tip of a teaspoon to gently push the peel away from the ginger flesh. Or you can carefully peel it using a small paring knife. Use a fine hand grater to grate the ginger. Be careful not to scratch your fingers on the grater.

5-Minute Green Salad with
Healthy Vinaigrette

This recipe is featured on page 143 of The World's Healthiest Foods book.

  1. Combine extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice (or balsamic vinegar if you prefer), sea salt and pepper in a bowl. For a more well integrated dressing, whisk in the olive oil a little at a time.
  2. Wash salad greens and then toss them with dressing just before serving.

10 Variations for Healthy Vinaigrette Dressing

  1. French: add 1 tsp of Dijon mustard
  2. Asian: add a few drops of tamari (soy sauce)
  3. Ginger: add 1/2 tsp of grated ginger
  4. Parsley: add 1 TBS parsley
  5. Chives: add 1 TBS chives
  6. Garlic: add 1 clove pressed garlic
  7. Basil: add 6 leaves of fresh chopped basil
  8. Italian Herb: add 2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary and 1 tsp chopped fresh oregano
  9. Anchovy/Capers: add 5 anchovy fillets and 1 tsp capers
  10. Creamy: add 2 TBS low-fat plain yogurt

Preparation Tip: Salad greens

Head Lettuce (such as romaine, butter lettuce, green or red leaf lettuce) Remove and discard the outer leaves. Slice off the tips of the leaves since they tend to be bitter. Make a cut lengthwise through the entire head. Turn cut side of head to the side and cut again so the head has been cut into fourths. Slice each section thinly up to the root and discard the hard end portion. Rinse well and then either pat dry or use a salad spinner if you have one available to remove the excess water.
Loose salad greens (such as arugula, watercress, mizuna, or prepackaged salad mixes) To wash loose salad greens, first trim their roots, separate the leaves, and then place them in a large bowl of tepid water, swishing them around with your hands to dislodge any dirt. Remove the leaves from the water, refill the bowl with clean water, and repeat this process until no dirt remains in the water (usually about two to three times will do the trick).

For more on preparing delicious salads, see page 140 of The World's Healthiest Foods book.

Preparation Tip: Lemon juice

Rinse lemon before cutting. It's best to juice a lemon when it's at room temperature since it produces more juice when it is not cold. Roll the lemon under the palm of your hand on a flat surface to extract more juice. Cut the lemon in half, removing the visible seeds from the fruit. You can juice the lemon using a juicer or reamer, or squeezing it by hand.

Asian-Style Broccoli
with Red Onions

This recipe is featured on page 133 of The World's Healthiest Foodsbook.

  1. Fill bottom of steamer with 2 inches of water.
  2. While steam is building up in steamer, cut broccoli florets into quarters and stems into 1/4-inch slices. Let them sit for 5-10 minutes before cooking them since this activates their health-promoting phytonutrients.
  3. Chop garlic and onions and let it sit for at least 5 minutes before cooking.
  4. For al denté broccoli, steam florets and stems for no more than 5 minutes. If stems are cut thicker than 1/4 inch, they will require 1-2 minutes of cooking before adding the florets. Steam onions with the broccoli.
  5. Transfer to a bowl. For more flavor, toss broccoli and onions with the remaining ingredients while it is still hot. (Mediterranean Dressing does not need to be made separately.) Adjust the amount of sea salt you use to accommodate the salty taste of the tamari.
Optional: To mellow the flavor of garlic, add garlic to Broccoli for the last 2 minutes of steaming.

Preparation Tip: Broccoli

Before cutting broccoli, rinse it under cold running water. Do not soak broccoli since this will dilute its water-soluble nutrients.

Separate broccoli florets from stems by cutting close to where the floret come together to join the stem. Cut each cluster close to the individual florets so that they each will fall away into individual pieces. For those that don't, use your knife to separate them. Cut each floret into quarters. Peel broccoli stem with sharp knife or vegetable peeler. Cut the stem into 1/4-inch slices.

The latest scientific studies show that cutting broccoli into small pieces breaks down cell walls and enhances the activation of an enzyme (myrosinase) that slowly converts some of the phytonutrients into their active form, which have been shown to contain health-promoting properties. Since heat will inactivate the myrosinase, it's important to let broccoli sit before cooking it. So to get the most health benefits from broccoli, let it sit for 5-10 minutes after cutting it and before eating it or cooking it. Since ascorbic acid (vitamin C) increases myrosinase activity, you can also sprinkle a little lemon juice on the broccoli before letting it sit, in order to further enhance its beneficial phytonutrient concentration. For more information on the importance of letting broccoli sit before cooking it or eating it, see page 132 of The World's Healthiest Foods book.

Preparation Tip: Onion

Cut onion in half so that each piece will contain part of the root. Peel the onion. Place peeled onion half on cutting board. If you use your right hand to cut, have the root end to your left and the flat-edge end to the right. Make vertical slices through onion that run perpendicular to the way you cut the onion in half. Have these slices be about 1/8- to 1/4-inches wide, cutting just short of the root so it will be left intact. Next, make horizontal 1/8- to 1/4-inches wide slices through onion, starting at the cut end (the end away from the root) and moving towards the root, but leaving it intact. Finally, cut the onion vertically through the other slices (parallel to the flat-edge end). The onion will fall into pieces. For a step-by-step photograph showing how to cut onions this way, see page 274 of The World's Healthiest Foods book.

Let the onion sit for 5 minutes before incorporating it into recipe to allow the conversion of the maximum amount of onion's sulfur-containing phytonutrients to occur. This will greatly enhance its health-promoting benefits. You'll notice that as you let it sit, its notably eye-watering aroma appears; that because the same compounds responsible for its health benefits are also responsible for its smell and flavor. For more information on the importance of letting onions sit before cooking them or eating them, see page 276 of The World's Healthiest Foods book.

Preparation Tip: Garlic

Separate the individual cloves by placing bulb on cutting board and gently, but firmly, applying pressure with the palm of your hand at an angle. This will cause the layers of skin that hold the bulb together to separate. Alternatively, you can insert a knife between the individual cloves to separate them from the rest of the bulb.

To peel the skin off of the clove, place the side of a chef's knife on it and give it a quick whack with the palm of your hand. This will loosen the skin so you can easily remove it.

Slice the garlic into 1/16-inch pieces. Then cut across the slices of garlic using a rocking motion with your knife, chopping it into the desired size. For minced garlic, chop fine.

Let garlic sit for 5–10 minutes before incorporating it into recipe to allow the conversion of the maximum amount of garlic's sulfur-containing phytonutrients to occur. This will greatly enhance its health-promoting benefits. You'll notice that as you let it sit, its notably pungent aroma appears; that's because the same compounds responsible for its health benefits are also responsible for its famous smell and flavor. For more information on the importance of letting garlic sit before cooking it or eating it, see page 261 of The World's Healthiest Foods book.


Blueberry Parfait

This recipe is featured on page 407 of The World's Healthiest Foods book.

  1. Layer yogurt and blueberries in 2 wine glasses.
  2. Top with chopped walnuts.
  3. Sprinkle grated chocolate and diced crystallized ginger, if desired.
Note: If blueberries are not available, use another type of your favorite fruit.

Preparation Tip: Blueberries

Remove any crushed or moldy berries from the container before you store them to prevent others from spoiling. Do not wash berries before refrigerating them. Store them in their original container or spread them out on a plate, cover with paper towel, and then cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerated berries should remain fresh for up to 3 days.

Wash berries gently using the light pressure of the sink sprayer if possible. To prevent them from becoming waterlogged, wash berries right before eating or using in a recipe. If using strawberries do not remove their caps of strawberries until after you have washed them.

Preparation Tip: Yogurt

When shopping for yogurt, look for a type that features "live active cultures" or "living yogurt cultures" on the label so that you can gain benefits from these health-promoting lactic acid bacteria. Ideally, it is best to purchase yogurt made from organic milk.

Preparation Tip: Chocolate

Cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate, is developing a more and more impressive research history with respect to its flavonoid content and heart-related benefits. Flavonols found in cocoa appear to be especially helpful in protecting the blood vessel linings. By helping protect these blood vessel structures, cocoa flavonols may also help prevent high blood pressure.

Product quality is very important when it comes to cocoa-containing products such as chocolate because residues of lead and other potential toxins may be present in non-organically produced cocoa. Organic cocoa powder, organic cocoa butter, and organic cocoa are labeling terms you should look for when purchasing cocoa-containing products, including dark chocolate.


Healthy Lifestyle Tea

For more information about Healthy Lifestyle Tea, see page 31 of The World's Healthiest Foods book.

  1. Add 1 tsp lemon juice to 1 cup of brewed tea.
Optional: if you're sensitive to caffeine, you can drink decaffeinated green tea instead. Serves 2

Preparation Tip: Green tea

Green tea has numerous health benefits. Studies have found that three cups of green tea a day can reduce body weight and waist circumference by 5% in three months. Not only does it inhibit the breakdown of fats, it also increases your metabolism. Concentrated in antioxidant catechin phytonutrients such as epigallocatechingallate (EGCG), green tea also helps to inhibit the oxidation of LDL-cholesterol, which when oxidized is one of the contributing causes of atherosclerosis. Therefore, green tea can play an important role in a diet that promotes cardiovascular health. Additionally, research has shown a connection between catchin intake and decreased risk of many types of cancers.

When preparing green tea, use four grams of loose tea leaves for each eight ounces of water. Although heartily boiling water is used to brew black and oolong teas, green tea needs much lower temperatures (160–170°F; 79–85°C). Some types of green tea only need to steep for 30 to 60 seconds although varieties such as Nilgiri and Dragonwell will take longer.

Preparation Tip: Lemon juice

Rinse lemon before cutting. It's best to juice a lemon when it's at room temperature since it produces more juice when it is not cold. Roll the lemon under the palm of your hand on a flat surface to extract more juice. Cut the lemon in half, removing the visible seeds from the fruit. You can juice the lemon using a juicer or reamer, or squeezing it by hand.

SHOPPING LIST FOR WEEK 1 MENU

This shopping list will prepare Week 1's menu for two people. If your group consists of four people, you should buy double the amount of ingredients listed. If your group consists of six people, you should buy triple the amount of ingredients listed. If your group consists of eight people you should by four times the amount of ingredients listed. Other herbs/spices/condiments if you want to make a variation of the Healthy Vinaigrette Dressing (see the recipe for 5-Minute Green Salad with Healthy Vinaigrette for more details).

Healthy Eating Topics of Interest

Why fruits are healthy and how much to eat each day

Botanically speaking, fruits are plants that contain seeds that will produce the next generation of plants, which will flower and fruit again. While we think of sweet-tasting plants such as apples, pears, berries, and bananas as fruits, some foods we classify as vegetables—tomatoes, peppers, avocados—are actually fruits since they contains seeds.

We need to eat fruits every day because we need to provide our body with water-soluble vitamins every day, and fruits (along with vegetables) provide more of these critical nutrients than any other type of food. Unlike fat-soluble vitamins—such as vitamins A, D, E, and K—which our bodies can store for future use, the water-soluble vitamins—vitamin C and the B vitamins—and phytonutrients are needed every single day for our bodies to function optimally since they can't be stored, or are only able to be stored in small amounts.

This week's focus is on incorporating more fruits into your diet. Fruits are delicious and rich in so many nutrients, including a wealth of antioxidants. It's good to aim for eating 3 to 4 servings of fruit each day. One serving equals: 1 medium apple, pear or orange; 1/2 grapefruit; 1 small banana, 1/2 cup grapes or berries; 1 cup diced melon; 1/4 cup dried fruit; or 3/4 cup of juice.

Glycemic Index and fruits

One concern that people have about eating fruits is that they are high in sugar. While fruits are high in sugar, their Glycemic Index (GI) varies and some cause less blood sugar elevation than others. If you become familiar with the concept of GI and the GI scale, you'll learn which fruits will have a greater impact on blood sugar levels—those with a high GI values—and which do not—those with a lower GI. You'll also learn about how you can consume higher-GI fruits with other low-GI foods so as to blunt their blood-sugar-raising effects. For more information on Glycemic Index, please see: The World's Healthiest Foodsbook: Pages 342-3, 409 and The World's Healthiest Foods website: What is the Glycemic Index?

Antioxidants

Fruits and vegetables are the richest source of antioxidants. In addition to the ACE antioxidants—vitamins A, C, and E—they contain other traditional antioxidants such as zinc, selenium, copper and manganese. Additionally, they contain plant-only nutrients, called phytonutrients, which act directly as antioxidants and quench ROS free radicals; this is thought to be why higher consumption of fruits and vegetables is associated with lower risk of a host of diseases, including cancers and many chronic degenerative diseases. To support how important antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables are to health, research studies have shown an association between a higher level of DNA mutations, which can lead to cancer, and lower levels of protective antioxidants. So enjoy fruits and vegetables each day and enjoy better health.

Since many phytonutrients are also responsible for the deep pigments that color our food, one way to look for foods rich in antioxidants is to choose foods that feature a palette of colors.

Color Phytonutrient Fruits and Vegetables
Red Lycopene Tomatoes, Red Peppers, Watermelon, Papaya, Apricots, Pink Grapefruit, Guava, and others
Yellow/Orange Beta-Caroten & Beta-Crytoxanthin Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Winter Squash, Cantaloupe, Orange and Yellow Bell Peppers, Papaya, Corn, Oranges, and others
Blue/Purple Anthocyanins Blueberries, Blackberries, Raspberries, Cherries, Purple Grapes, Strawberries, and others
Green Chlorophyll Spinach, Broccoli, Kale, Collard Greens, Swiss Chard, Romaine Lettuce, Asparagus, and others

For more information on antioxidants, please see: The World's Healthiest Foodsbook: Pages 735 and 804

The World's Healthiest Foods website includes a vast array of information about antioxidants. Just type "antioxidants" into Search box. For some general information on the subject, see: Carotenoids, How Healthy Nutrition Builds Health, Starting With the Cells.


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