In our pursuit of a healthy diet, we all acknowledge that variety of foods is the key to attaining a full range of vitamins and minerals. I’m sure you are all quite familiar with the old saying: An apple a day, keeps the doctor away! Well, how about a guava a day?
Some folks out there are already aware of how nutritious some of our local foods are, but, did you know that one single guava fruit supplies 50 per cent more fiber, two and a half times more potassium, three times more calcium, and 33 times more vitamin C, than the average apple?
I suspect that because we know more about western foods and hear about the health benefits that they offer we may neglect to consider what our local markets can also offer a healthy diet.
Recent studies indicate that regular consumption of potassium-rich foods can help lower and control blood pressure, so it is especially important for people with hypertension (high blood pressure) to get enough of this mineral.
Good sources of potassium include avocados, bananas and white potatoes. In addition to these familiar foods, how about adding our local breadfruit, green banana and sweet potato to the list?
Although potato, breadfruit and brown rice all supply great nutrition, breadfruit surpasses white potato and brown rice in both fiber and potassium. A 96-gram serving (about a quarter of a breadfruit) provides 4.7 grams of fiber and 470 milligrams of potassium, compared to the same 96-gram serving of white potato which supplies1.6 grams of fiber and 366 milligrams of potassium.
What about the fat?
What about the fat in our fruit? In today’s world of cutting out the fat, we may sometimes feel confused when we hear that some fruit is high in fat.
So, how does the local ackee and avocado pear measure up to heart healthy olive oil we so liberally use everyday? Most people use olive oil because it supplies monounsaturated fat, the type of fat that can help lower cholesterol. Rest assured. The fat found naturally in ackee and avocado is also monounsaturated. The caution in incorporating ‘high fat’ fruit in one’s diet is largely due to the calories it supplies. Be mindful of your portions, especially if you are trying to keep that waistline trim.
Did you know that a half-cup of callaloo supplies four times more calcium and two times more potassium than the same amount of broccoli? Having said this, broccoli supplies twice as much vitamin C and fiber per half-cup serving, compared to callaloo. Although you can compare them, both vegetables offer great nutritio. So, eat your broccoli and your callaloo.
Lastly, the coconut. I couldn’t write an article like this one, and leave out the coconut. Although the fat in this fruit is all saturated (found in the jelly and thus the milk), coconut water is anything but high in fat. Supplying just 50 calories per 8-ounce serving, coconut water provides fewer calories than many other popular juice cocktails. It is low in carbohydrate, a good source of fiber, and a powerhouse of potassium.
So, the next time your out grocery shopping remember that all foods can fit into a healthy diet. Reach for local foods as well and take comfort in knowing that you have supplied your body with a variety of tasty foods that are also quite nutritious.