In a world where we are more concerned about a trim waist line than a healthy functioning heart, we spend most of our days planning meals with a limited amount of calories and forgoing the health benefits we would get from healthier meals.
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Here are some challenges calorie counters face;
Coffee versus Tea?
There is only 1 calorie in a mug of coffee where as a mug of tea contains 2 calories. Coffee and tea both contain antioxidants great in fighting cancer. Coffee also has the benefit of boosting brainfunction and so does tea. Tea also improves muscle endurance, keeps your body hydrated and your heart healthy. The calorie difference is relatively small and the health benefits a bit similar so the choice left would be whether to use sugar or honey.
Sugar versus Honey?
Two tea spoons of sugar have 30 calories where as two tea spoons of honey have 64 calories. Sugar contains glycolic acids which attributes to a blemish free complexion where as honey is rich in antioxidants, antifungal and flavonoids which are great in fighting cancer. Health wise honey would be the best alternative but sugar contains fewer calories or better yet why use sweetener at all and benefit from no added calories and no added health benefits.
Oatmeal versus Eggs?
Two eggs contain on average 150 calories which will vary with the style you use to prepare them, fried eggs contain more calories than boiled eggs. A bowl of oatmeal contains 150 calories which will increase if milk is added to the equation. Oatmeal contains healthy fibers and carbohydrates where as eggs are rich in protein, vitamins, riboflavin, folate and good cholesterol. However if you eliminate the yolks from the eggs, you will loss most of the nutritious value they have to offer but only have 34 calories to deal with.
Banana versus Avocado?
An average size banana contains only 105 calories and is a great source of potassium and carbohydrate. On the other hand an average Avocado contains 232 calories but is also a great source of potassium, vitamins and irons. Avocados also contain healthy fats that reduce bad cholesterol in the blood stream thus reducing the risk of heart disease.
Sushi versus Pizza?
An average lunch pack of sushi contains around 1100 calories, a sushi roll contains about 300 calories, however the vinegar rice contains some antibacterial properties and the fish is rich in omega-3, fatty acids and sushi is also rich in fiber. A whole 10 inch Pizza contains 868 calories, one slice contains only 145 calories and better yet the tomato paste and tomatoes used are rich in antioxidants so are the health benefits derived from the specific toppings.
Beer versus Wine?
A pint of beer contains about 8840 calories but is rich in fibers, vitamin and low in sugar. A glass of wine contains about 160 calories and red wine has antioxidant and procyanidins that protect against heart disease. The difference is quite substantial and of course the need to have a snack will add more calories to the equation.
Potato crisps versus Popcorn?
One ounce bag of potato crisp contains about 150 calories but are rich in fiber, fats, protein and potassium (equivalent to a banana). On the other hand one cup of air popped popcorn contains only 30 calories but butter popcorn contains 130 calories. Popcorn is rich in fiber and carbohydrates.
What to choose? I believe in a balanced diet and if certain food are not recommended by your doctor then you should avoid them but it should be important to consider the health benefits you receive from certain foods and not only focus on the quantity of calories your consuming by the end of each day. Learn more on the importance of a healthly diet from CDC.