If you think health food is boring, you're not alone. "Happy" meals and fun junk-food treats have trained us to see natural, nutritious foods as bland. This couldn't be further from the truth: good food can nourish and delight and has done so for millennia. If you're looking to inspire your fast-food-loving kids or just pique your own interest in nutrition, a little knowledge about healthy eating will get your brain and palate working.
In 2008, Dr. Arthur Agatston published the results of a study on kids and nutrition. The study monitored primary school students who ate "nutritionally sound, high-quality breakfasts, lunches and snacks" as part of a community program. Over a two-year period, these students scored significantly higher on standardised tests, especially in maths.
Students who ate better also had lower blood pressure and less weight issues. But it couldn't have worked without education: the program taught nutrition basics in a lighthearted way, so kids knew the importance of good food.
Vegetables In court
In 1893, the Supreme Court in the United States tackled a momentous issue: are tomatoes a fruit or a vegetable? At stake was a large sum of money: the Nix family had been paying vegetable taxes on their tomato imports and now wanted restitution. The Supreme Court disagreed, however, ruling that tomatoes are indeed vegetables. "Botanically, tomatoes are considered a fruit of the vine," the decision stated. "But in common language of the people... these are vegetables". Other "fruits of the vine" relegated to lowly veggie status included cucumbers, squashes, beans and peas.
Honey, the golden elixir made by honeybees, is more than just a delicious natural sweetener. It also has nutritional and health benefits that will surprise you. Honey is be a safe, natural alternative to cough syrup. In sports, honey's unique blend of carbohydrates makes it a natural energy booster. As a sweetener, it provides antioxidants unavailable in processed sugars.
The most surprising benefit of honey, however, may be its healing abilities. Honey has antibacterial properties, and a 2002 study found that it can be applied directly to wounds to stop infection and improve tissue healing. Some varieties of honey have now been approved for sale as therapeutic substances.
GORP, a high-energy snack made of dried fruit and nuts, is a mix of raisins and nuts that is associated with hillwalking and backpacking food. Some say the word is an acronym for "Good Old Raisins and Peanuts," which are easy to carry and pack a hefty nutritional punch of sugar, carbohydrates, protein and healthy lipids. The name may actually have come from an early 20th-century slang word meaning "to eat greedily," another indication of this healthy snack's inherent deliciousness.
When you're feeling like a nosh, be careful what you reach for. Hunger can influence us to make silly choices, and those choices add up quickly. For example, a 60g bag of crisps can contain 310 calories and 21 g of fat, as opposed to a medium apple at 70 calories and 1 g of fat.
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- PubMed: Honey - A potent agent for wound healing?
- Washington Trails Association: Quiz - Where does the word gorp come from?
- U.S. News & World Report: Junk food, TV driving kids to obesity