Nora Gedgaudas

Nora on vegetables and fruit

Nora on vegetables and fruit

Fibrous vegetables, non-starchy vegetables and greens are an important part of the Paleo Way program. Higher fiber “above ground” vegetables contain very little sugar and starch, but they are a powerhouse of phytonutrients and antioxidants that are likely more important to us today than they ever used to be during our long prehistoric evolutionary history.   Fibrous vegetables like the ones listed below contain many cancer-fighting compounds and can help your body better detoxify the many pollutants and toxic chemicals that are unique to the modern world. There are any number of ways to enjoy them: raw, steamed, sautéed, stir-fried and especially cultured (which enhances the nutritional value of veggies and adds extra beneficial probiotic bacteria to your diet).

Fibrous vegetables, non-starchy vegetables and greens are an important part of the Paleo Way program. Higher fiber “above ground” vegetables contain very little sugar and starch, but they are a […]

It seems as though everyone likes to talk about “fruits and vegetables” –as if the two were all one word and of equal importance to your health.   The fact is that fruit is a mostly sugar-based food and something best enjoyed just periodically as more of a treat.  Fruits are basically the “hot fudge sundae” of the Paleo Way program. –Mostly a periodic indulgence than a dietary requirement. It’s important to keep this in mind. If you happen to be someone struggling with a weight issue, hypoglycemia, sugar cravings, alcohol addiction, high blood pressure, high uric acid levels, or gout; then you might want to do without any fruit for a while until you have better addressed these symptoms.   Fruit is not essential for anyone, and if you happen to be metabolically deranged or struggling with sugar cravings in your life, then avoiding fruit might make more sense for you—at least for a while.

Most of the fruit we find in the grocery store aisles today or that grow in cultivated orchards are extremely different from anything our ancestors would have picked along the way.   Modern-day fruit is granted for its size and sweetness primarily and not its nutritional content. The primary sugar contained in fruit is, in fact fructose— which is taken center stage in the research as being the single most damaging sugar we can eat. Our ancestors would have mainly had access to fruit as a seasonal treat—late in the summer and early fall when fattening up for winter was a big priority (not unlike what bears do).   Going into a state of insulin resistance for the winter would have made sense from a survival standpoint at one time, but makes little sense today (as we rarely need to face the elements in any challenging way anymore). Berries contain the most nutrition and antioxidant value of any other form of fruit— and they also happen to be the most “Paleo friendly” fruit available to us.   Berries have been changed very little from their wild counterparts and can offer some real nutritional value when enjoyed in small quantities.   At the very least, If you are going to eat a piece of fruit it is important to eat it 1) organically grown (more than 50% of all papaya grown has been genetically modified)[1] and 2) eaten in its whole state and not juiced.   When you remove the skin and the pulp, you actually remove most of the nutritional and antioxidant value of the fruit and what you are basically left with is sugar water.

The following lists are here to serve as a general guideline for the best choices to help you maintain a very low sugar/starch dietary intake, and offering the most nutritional value when it comes to vegetables possible. Always select local, organically grown and in-season produce whenever you can. Shopping at farmers markets and local food cooperatives tends to offer the best quality and freshest available selections. Better yet – develop a real first-hand knowing of where your food comes from and grow your own! You will slash your grocery bill by a large margin and give yourself an even better quality source of produce than you could ever purchase in a store.

Juicing fibrous vegetables and greens is fine (or even using something like a Vitamix or Nutrabullet, which keeps the pulp), but again – try to avoid adding the sweet stuff.   If you need to, you can add a couple of drops of Stevia – or just add things like ginger and lemon flavor your vegetable drinks. It can be a wonderful, refreshing and detoxifying edition to your diet!

WHAT VEGGIES/FRUITS ARE BEST TO USE AND BEST TO AVOID

Fabulous Fibrous Vegetables (and Greens) For Extra Bulk, Antioxidants and Phytonutrients:

  • Examples of “fibrous” (non-starchy) vegetables: broccoli, broccolini, rapini, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, green beans, sprouts, artichoke hearts, arugula, avocado(also a fabulous source of fat), beet greens, bock choy, cauliflower, celery, chard, chicory, chives, collard greens, cucumber, dandelion greens (also serves as potent liver and detoxification support), endive, escarole, fennel, kale, leeks, lettuce, mache, okra, olives (yet another wonderful source of satiating fat), onion, parsley, peppers and tomatoes (as long as you have no sensitivity to nightshades), radicchio, radishes, rhubarb, sauerkraut (naturally cultured– a superb source of healthy probiotics), scallions, snow pea pods, snap peas, sorrel, spinach, wax beans, nettles, seaweed, kelp noodles.
  • All forms of mushrooms are fair game: button (though the least nutritious of all), shitake, maitake, chanterelle, porcini, crimini, oyster, enoki, morel, truffels, etc.
  • Starchy foods (best avoided) include: ALL grains (even the “gluten-free” variety. Yes—this includes oatmeal), all potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams (though these are far lower in starch than regular white/red/purple potatoes and may be periodically enjoyed in a very limited way, depending on your health goals), parsnips, plantain, chestnuts, did I mention grains?, lentils, beans (roughly 60% starch), corn and anything made from corn flour or corn meal, arrow root, jicama (limit – some is ok), celery root, beets (limit), all rice (brown, wild or white), quinoa, Jerusalem artichokes (also known as “sunchokes”), all pasta, bread (grains again), pumpkin (greatly limit), squash (greatly limit), sorghum, green peas, cassava/yucca (popular in Peruvian restaurants and cooking–mondo starchy).
  • High glycemic/sugary fruits, also best avoided: dates, raisins, figs, pineapple, mangoes, papaya (frequently also GMO), apricots, cantaloupe, watermelon, grapes, bananas, peaches, pears, large apples, plums, oranges. (depending)
  • Berries (though strawberries and especially kiwis are a bit more glycemic), cherries and grapefruit are fairly low in their glycemic and sugar value by comparison and may be eaten a bit more regularly, if desired. If the worst thing you indulge in, however, is the occasional small organic apple, you’re doing OK. If you are especially vulnerable to blood sugar issues (metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, gout, overweight, or hypoglycemic) then avoiding all sources of fruit is the best approach until a fat-burning metabolism is reliably established. After that, stick to only berries, cherries and grapefruit if you want (seasonally).

[1] http://www.responsibletechnology.org/gmo-basics/gmos-in-food

By Nora Gedgaudas

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