The public seems to have lost interest in low-carbohydrate fad diets. In a recent survey conducted by the American Institute for Cancer Research, four out of five weight-conscious people said they turn to salads, vegetables and fruits when trying to shed a few pounds.
This is good news. Despite all the books, advertisements and commercial products touting low-carb diets, the majority of Americans are sticking with a tried-and-true method for safe, steady and long-lasting weight management. Instead of jumping to another promising quick-fix diet and unbalanced nutrition, Americans are choosing a common sense eating style that stresses vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans. This eating style can help us stay healthy and keep excess weight at bay.
Plant Foods Prove Effective
Nutrition researchers have conducted studies that confirm the major role plant foods, like vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans, play in managing weight.
These foods appear effective in helping weight management because of their low energy density. Since they are high in water and fiber and comparatively low in calories (energy), they give a feeling of fullness without the higher calories of foods higher in fat. At the same time, they provide an abundance of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that promote health and protect against chronic diseases, like cancer.
In one study, when people ate more vegetables and fruits in meals, they reduced their total calorie consumption by more than 400 calories per day. In another study, when overweight people were fed prepared meals much higher in vegetables and fruits and lower in fat than those they usually ate, they had significant weight loss.
The variety of plant foods makes it easy to eat a lot of them. There are so many different kinds, you’ll never grow tired of trying new ones. As in this simple salad, they can be great tasting, too. You may never suspect that they are really good for you and your waist.
Spinach, Red Bell Pepper and Feta Cheese Salad with Yogurt Dressing
1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1 tsp. honey
2 Tbsp. minced fresh dill
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 bag (5 oz.) baby spinach, coarsely chopped (about 4 cups)
1 large red bell pepper, diced (about 1 cup)
1 stalk celery, trimmed and diced (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions (scallions)
1 oz. feta cheese, drained, rinsed and crumbled (about 1/4 cup)
In a small bowl, stir together yogurt, honey, dill and black pepper until blended. In a large serving bowl, toss together spinach, red pepper, celery and green onions. Drizzle dressing over top and lightly toss to coat. Sprinkle with feta and serve.
Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 41 calories, 1 g total fat (less than 1 g saturated fat), 6 g carbohydrates, 2 g protein, 1 g dietary fiber, 91 mg sodium.
(Source: American Institute for Cancer Research: AICR Ever Green, Ever Healthy, August 2005)