Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
QUESTION: I am trying to take off a few pounds gradually, but in truth, it’s so slow that it’s adding up to nothing!
I’ve been eating a wide variety of foods like the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines says to, so what’s wrong?
— Abigail L., Springfield, Illinois
ANSWER: Losing weight gradually is the right way to shed it and keep it off. That said, we wonder about what you mean by “variety.” A milkshake and a carrot stick is not what’s meant by “variety” — but it’s what many folks seem to think they can get away with.
In fact, it’s gotten to be enough of a problem that the American Heart Association recently issued a position paper saying, “Greater dietary diversity is associated with suboptimal eating patterns, that is, higher intakes of processed foods, refined grains and sugar-sweetened beverages.”
So what is the variety that you should be aiming for?
A variety of colors and types of veggies and fruits is a good place to start. You want to enjoy some legumes, some leafy greens, some cruciferous veggies like broccoli and cauliflower, some citrus and some fleshy fruits and berries daily. You can add lean proteins like skinless chicken and fish.
But if that variety doesn’t spice up your interest in healthy eating, just remember that while variety may be the spice of life, spices are the life of variety.
Here are three of our favorites.
>> Turmeric: A main component of curry powder, turmeric, shown above, delivers powerful flavor, and preliminary studies show it can reduce the number of heart attacks bypass patients have post-surgery and control knee pain from osteoarthritis as well as ibuprofen can. People from India, who use it frequently, have much lower rates of dementia. Animal studies confirm its brain benefits.
>> Cinnamon: Below left, use this to flavor your coffee, zip up stews and make black beans sing with flavor. It’s also has anti-fungal properties and helps to control glucose levels.
>> Pepper: Black pepper, below right, can combat cancer-causing properties of grilled foods — just coat lean chicken or veggies with ground pepper (after marinating in just about anything) before cooking over a flame.