In every city health food shops are becoming more and more popular. Many of them have a lot of really good stuff to offer, but they should be used judiciously- not as a sole source for our food. Most of the products are often highly priced and overrated. Your main source of food should be the open market.

At a big fruit market you can usually find all the fruits and vegetables, nuts and grains you desire. These will provide you with all the fibre you need without resorting to special fibre preparations available at a price in health food stores. If the foods are grown in Israel, you do have to make sure that trumos and maaseros are taken and that there is no chashash of orlah. If T and M have not been taken- no problem- it's not hard at all to learn how to do it yourself.

You can also find plenty of fresh kosher fish at the open market. If the fish has already been gutted and non kosher fish are also for sale you can assume that the knife has "trefed" the good fish. Live fish are a better option in this case. There is also an abundant supply of canned salmon, tuna, mackerel and other fish in most major supermarkets- just make sure they are approved in terms of kashrus. These are an excellent source of first class protein, omega oils and calcium (particularly in the case of the small edible boned fish such as sardines) as well as other nutrients.

Of course, chicken and other meats need to be kosher, but the expense is not so prohibitive, especially given the fact that protein is not a major part of the diet in terms of bulk. Here, it's a case of quality rather than quantity. Cooked egg-white provides protein EQUAL in quality to that of steak- without the fat and cholesterol. If you have a backyard, poultry are pleasant and economical to raise for food and eggs- automatically free range and organic! They will eat most table scraps and so make good use of waste, and fertilise the garden in the bargain.

The protein found in seeds lacks certain amino acids which are found in legumes such as beans and peas, but this does not mean that they MUST be eaten at the same meal. It really doesn't matter. You could eat brown bread at breakfast time and baked beans for supper and benefit from the amino acids in both- this would add up to complete protein. In terms of quantities vis a vis RDA you'd have to look it up - Jane Brody's nutrition book is an excellent source for all kinds of facts and figures. 1st class protein- found in eggs, fish and meats is only so named because it includes all the required amino acids in one food. 2nd class protein does not contain all the amino acids, but it is still beneficial if you provide the other amino acids in about the same day.

You need to find a kosher source of bread. Brown bread is best, but if you're eating oats, wheatgerm and other sources of fibre, then white bread, white rice etc are not bad to eat. It does provide starch that breaks down to glucose in your body. There's nothing wrong with "empty calories" if you need calories. Calories are simply fuel for the body- and you need a constant supply of fuel. Sugar is also good- in moderation. If you have it in quantity you are going to mess around with your blood's sugar balance and your brain neurotransmittors. If you want to keep balanced physiologically and mentally- eat sugar in small amounts only, and preferably fruit sugars. (fructose)

The same is true for fat. It's a concentrated fuel source, includes certain fatty acids and vitamins essential for the body and it enhances taste, but it should be used in strict moderation, especially if you a relatively inactive and/or overweight. Olive oils and fish oils remain the best source of fats but canola, corn and soy are also fairly good sources. You don't HAVE to pay a bomb for cold pressed oil, though it is the best, it doesn't give you the significant health edge that the high price suggests.

You do not have to take all sorts of vitamins. Vitamin manufacturers are trying to sell a product- just like anyone else on the market. They will try to convince you that vitamins are an essential part of your diet- implying that they'll give you the goods you aren't going to get in normal food.

Not true. If you're eating a good balanced diet you won't need any vitamins at all- or calcium, selenium, iodine, chromium or any other nostrum on the shelves of the local healthfood store. G-d gave us citrus fruits, sprouts, broccoli, tomatoes etc - all these and their colleagues in the plant world provide us with a wealth of vitamins B, K, C etc . For all the damage of alcohol, beer is an excellent source of vitamin B. Check all the labels!

Re alcohol- It has also been discovered that one or two glasses of wine is more healthy for the blood and heart than no alcohol at all. LeChaim!

For excellent and balanced health advice- search for Dr. Andrew Weil's website.

Copyright © 1999 Gila Atwood

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