Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Eating Healthy on the Cheap

I read an article this morning about how eating beans and whole grains can help to reduce your cholesterol levels a significant amount. "According to a 2001 study from the Archives of Internal Medicine, people who eat beans four times a week reduce their heart disease risk by 20 percent." While I am not sure we could stand to eat beans that often, I think that eating beans a little more often will certainly help improve our health. And not only that, but beans are a very inexpensive way to get extra protein in our diet. And they are very versatile. We could easily have a vegetarian night once a week. And once a week will not cause too much disturbance in our house.

Bean burritos are probably the easiest way to serve them. Of course, we also like brown beans with bits of ham cooked in it. But like any true Southerner, you have to have fried potatoes and cornbread with it, and that will probably counteract the health benefits from the beans. Or a bean salad with lots of fresh veggies. When I was growing up, my mom made a really good bean salad that had kidney beans, chopped onion, chopped tomatoes, corn, (and something else, I don't remember) with a little bit of mayonnaise and salt and pepper. It was really good when we grilled out. I might actually try that tonight for dinner.

Garlic was also mentioned as a plus. We use a lot of garlic anyway so that shouldn't be a problem to just use it a little more.

The article also talked about how oats and oat fiber help you offset the negative effects of cholesterol by, essentially, soaking up the fats in the digestive tract. The good news is that oats are also inexpensive. And they are very versatile as well. Not only can you simply eat a bowl of hot oatmeal, you can run them through the blender to make oat flour for baking, make oatmeal cookies, use it as a binder for meatloaf or meatballs, the list goes on. I think I will be using a lot more oats in my daily cooking than I have in the past. Not only does it help with the cholesterol, it is an excellent source of fiber, and that is never a bad thing.

Purple grapes, either as juice or as wine, are rich in biflavinoids that will reduce the "stickiness" of platelets in the blood, reducing the probability of clots. It will also help repair damage caused by free radicals. So again, that is a good thing. 8 to 10 ounces a day is all that is needed. So go ahead and have that glass of red wine with dinner.

Eating cheaply doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your health. Between the beans, oats, garlic, cutting back on fried foods, and getting a little more exercise, we should be a lot healthier in the long run and still not be overspending on overpriced health food.

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