Intermittent Fasting For Dummies
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With intermittent fasting you are when you eat and what you eat. You may notice that all of the foods on this superfood list are plants. Hot off the presses is a new mega-study published in the British Medical Journal showing that eating mostly plant protein reduces your risk of death. Diets high in plant protein, such as legumes (peas, beans, and lentils), whole grains, and nuts, reduce risks of developing diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. On the other hand, regular consumption of red meat and a high intake of animal proteins have been linked to several health problems and a shorter life. Tap into the power of plants for a longer, healthier, leaner life!

All of these foods contain Mother Nature’s medicine chest called phytochemicals. Phytochemicals describes the thousands of nutrients found in edible plants that play a major role in preventing degenerative diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. Phytochemicals (phyto is Greek for plant) are found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other plant foods.

black coffee on intermittent fasting © jazz3311 /

Black coffee

I can’t say enough about the health and weight loss benefits of drinking black coffee. Coffee beans are seeds, and like all seeds, they’re loaded with protective plant compounds. In fact, coffee is the single greatest source of antioxidants in the Western diet. I call it “plant juice.” Note that decaf coffee contains similar amounts of antioxidants as regular coffee.

Purchase organic coffee when possible; it's better for you and the environment. As a bonus, organic coffee beans are richer in healthful antioxidants and chlorogenic acid, which are helpful in preventing type 2 diabetes and lowering blood pressure. Many people can even taste the difference. Your health, and the health of the planet, both get a boost.

Drive through your favorite barista bar and order a large dark roast with a shot of espresso (decaf if the caffeine doesn’t agree with you). Make it iced for an antioxidant-packed cold brew.


Spinach is a nutritional powerhouse. This nutrient-dense green superfood is readily available — fresh, frozen, or even canned. One of the healthiest foods on the planet, spinach is super low in calories, yet packed with nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, and essential folate. It’s also loaded with potassium and magnesium — minerals that lower blood pressure.

The Environmental Working Groups Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce ranks spinach second on its list of fruits and vegetables with the most pesticides.

I prefer to buy plain frozen spinach because one cup of frozen spinach has more than four times the amount of nutrients, such as fiber, folate, iron. and calcium than a cup of fresh spinach.


Loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, quinoa (KEEN-wah) is incredibly nutritious. It’s also unique among grains because it’s a complete protein, meaning it contains the right amount of all essential amino acids your body needs to build new proteins. In fact, quinoa has twice the protein of regular cereal grains.

Quinoa is a whole grain. For optimal health, you need to eat more whole grains and much less refined grains.

Serve quinoa as a substitute for rice, especially refined white rice (it cooks much quicker and comes out light and fluffy) or even in salads. Most grocery stores now carry it in the rice and beans aisle.

Extra-virgin olive oil

Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) is loaded with antioxidants and healthy fats and has been shown to offer numerous health benefits. EVOO is the only vegetable oil that contains a large amount of disease-fighting polyphenols and anti-inflammatory substances. Chronic inflammation is believed to be among the leading drivers of many diseases, including heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and arthritis.

Keep a small dark bottle of authentic EVOO with a pour spout near your cooktop. Drizzle, don’t douse your food, because olive oil, like all fat, is calorie dense. Use just a touch of EVOO whenever you sauté foods in your skillet.

Black beans

Beans were known as peasant food, poor man’s meat but are now known as a healthy person’s staple. Unfortunately, Americans have failed to embrace beans — a tasty, versatile, hearty, and ridiculously inexpensive superfood. Beans contain the most protein of any vegetable; plus, they’re loaded with essential B vitamins (especially the heart-healthy folate), minerals, and fiber to help you feel full longer. Beans are also a rich source of complex carbohydrates that provide long-lasting energy, good slow carbs.

The dark varieties of beans, like black beans, top the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s list of foods highest in disease-fighting antioxidants. These little black beauties are packed with nutrients, such as calcium, plant protein, and fiber, and they also taste great! Black beans can fill you up without draining your wallet, and now they’re trendier than ever. A lean plant protein, black beans should be on everyone’s plate a few times a week.

Buy low-sodium, canned beans, rinse several times, and then dry the beans and add to salads or make quick tacos or a burrito.


Good for the brain and potent at lowering blood pressure, the humble beet is often overlooked as one of the healthiest foods on earth. Beets boast an impressive nutritional profile —low in calories, yet dense with valuable nutrients, such as fiber, folate, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, and vitamin C. Beets also provide a good dose of nitrates. (Your body changes nitrates into nitric oxide, a chemical that helps lower blood pressure and improve athletic performance.)

Choose the red/purple variety to protect your cells from free radical damage by consuming a daily dose of a polyphenol flavonoid called anthocyanins — the blue pigmented polyphenol found in red/purple beets. Beets are naturally low in sodium and are virtually fat and cholesterol free. Beets generally show low pesticide residues, and therefore, are generally okay to buy non-organic.

Buy the packaged pre-cooked and peeled version, slice, and throw into your salad. Or peel, douse with EVOO, and roast them. This will retain the good-for-you phytonutrients that leach out of the food and into the water, if boiled extensively.

Nuts and seeds

Walnuts, almonds, and pistachios (raw and unsalted), as well as chia seeds and ground flaxseeds are all true superfoods. Essential fatty acids are required in the diet for optimal health. Both nuts and seeds are bursting with these essential good fats, called omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Walnuts and flaxseeds are two ancient plant foods that have sustained humans since the birth of civilization — and both are top sources of ALA. In addition, nuts and seeds are antioxidant powerhouses.

Keep a supply of nuts in your bag for easy, healthy snacks. Or, packets of single-serving, on-the-go chia and ground flaxseeds are available for purchase in most health food stores, or online (toss them in smoothies or in cereal).


Broccoli is a nutritional powerhouse full of vitamins (especially vitamin C), minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. Broccoli belongs to the plant species known as Brassica oleracea. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, and cauliflower — all edible plants — collectively, are referred to as cruciferous vegetables. Researchers have shown that this group of vegetables, also known as the anti-cancer vegetables, can effectively treat dysfunction of the arteries and heart vessel damage in diabetics.

Cruciferous vegetables are natural cancer-prevention foods that should be consumed most days of the week. Low in calories and rich in fiber, broccoli is the perfect super-healthy addition to your feasting periods. Don’t worry about paying more for organic. Broccoli, generally, doesn’t end up with pesticide residue. Vegetables like broccoli promote healthy gut flora — rich in prebiotics, or food for healthy gut bacteria. Prebiotics also can boost the diversity of your good gut bugs.

Steam your broccoli for the most vitamin preservation. Squirt butter spray (25 sprays is a mere 20 calories) for flavor and enjoy as a side dish.


Berries, in general, are the ultimate anti-aging superfood. In particular, blackberries contain a wide array of important nutrients including potassium, magnesium and calcium, as well as vitamins A, C, E, calcium, iron, and most of the B vitamins. They’re also a rich source of anthocyanins that give blackberries their deep purple color.

Just one cup of raw blackberries has 60 calories, 30 milligrams of vitamin C, and a megadose of 8 grams of dietary fiber (one serving of blackberries delivers 31 percent of your daily dietary fiber needs). Fresh or frozen, blackberries are a true superfood that deserves a spot on your weekly menu. I suggest purchasing organic, if available.

Sprinkle them on yogurt or eat plain as a sweet and delicious snack. Blackberries also work well in smoothies.


The mighty legume is high in fiber and protein and adds great taste and texture to any meal. Vegans and vegetarians are often fans of using lentils as a meat substitute in traditional recipes; but unlike animal protein, lentils are fat and cholesterol free. Lentils are made up of more than 25 percent protein. They’re also a great source of iron, a mineral that is sometimes lacking in vegetarian diets. Lentils are inexpensive, cook quickly and easily, and are low in calories, rich in iron and folate, and an excellent source of additional nutrients.

Lentils require no soaking, and they cook in a reasonable amount of time — anywhere from 10 to 25 minutes, depending on the variety. You can also buy precooked lentils, which taste great and speed prep.

Add cooked lentils to your tomato sauce for extra protein, fiber, and taste. Lentils pack enough meaty flavor to make a Bolognese sauce taste like the real thing. Chopped bell peppers add another layer of texture, and a thick tomato paste makes it deliciously saucy.

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