Mary Hartley, RD, MPH, is the director of nutrition for Calorie Count, providing domain expertise on issues related to nutrition, weight loss and health. She creates original content for weekly blogs and newsletters, for the Calorie Count library, and for her popular daily Question-and-Answer section, Ask Mary. Ms. Hartley also furnishes direction for the site features and for product development.
White food has gotten a bum rap because white sugar and white flour may be harmful in excess. But it’s unwise to discriminate against “white” when it’s the color of some mighty healthy foods. Milk, cottage cheese, cauliflower, mushrooms, garlic, onions, tofu, potatoes, white beans, and white whole wheat flour are all over-the-top nutritious. But unlike other foods with nutrient properties based on color, white foods actually have nothing nutritionally in common.
Dairy foods, always healthier when skimmed of fat, are naturally white and rich in difficult-to-get nutrients, like calcium, phosphorous, potassium, vitamin B12, riboflavin, and vitamins A and D when added. Milk, buttermilk, yogurt, kefir, sour cream, and cheeses are all loaded with high quality protein. Milk, but not always its variants, is plentiful, cheap and versatile. Drink milk with meals and use dairy foods in recipes.
The alliums – garlic, onion, shallot and leeks – are white as well and so very nutritious that they may be virtual medicines. They are all rich in sulfur, a nutrient that is said to clean the blood but is lacking in the average U.S. diet. Garlic is a blood thinner that can lower blood pressure and modestly reduce triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood. The entire allium family has anti-inflammatory, antibiotic and diuretic properties, and they are rich in manganese, a trace mineral that helps the body use other nutrients, and in vitamin C and B vitamins and the rare nutrients, chromium in onions and selenium in garlic. Eat at least one high-allium food every day.
White fishes like cod, flounder and halibut are ultra low in fat and calories but very high in high-biological-value protein. White fish are important sources of calcium, phosphorous, potassium, iodine and fluorine, which are all needed for a myriad of bodily functions. The new Dietary Guidelines say adults should eat at least 8 ounces of fish per week.
Try this Mediterranean Cod Recipe
Potatoes are so common and plentiful that they are taken for granted, but they are a valuable source of vitamin C as well as energetic carbohydrates, fiber, potassium, manganese, vitamin B6, and copper. Potatoes contain a variety of phytonutrients that have antioxidant activity. Potatoes belong in any balanced diet.
Try this Herbed Potato Salad Recipe
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