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What is a nutritarian?

By JOANN PETASCHNICK

July 2014

Despite the exotic sounding name, a nutritarian is not from a faraway galaxy. In fact, the nutritarian is just someone who has a preference for a diet rich in high-quality nutrients. The diet is not new: Itís a simple approach to eating healthy by eating plain foods.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman coined the term nutritarian and developed the "Eat to Live" diet, according to registered dietician and nutritarian Nicole Kemeen-Fasules of Way of Life Nutrition in Milwaukee. "The diet focuses on micro and macronutrient content and balance, with the avoidance of things like trans fats, excessive simple sugars and excessive sodium. Micronutrients include all our vitamins and minerals, and macronutrients are proteins, carbohydrates and fats," she explains.

Healthier food options are high in nutrients and low in calories, which makes the most out of every calorie you eat. "The foods with the highest micronutrient per calorie scores are green vegetables, colorful vegetables and fresh fruits," Kemeen-Fasules says.

"The Eat to Live diet has been around forever, and itís great for everyone because of the high fiber and phytochemical properties of the base of the diet ó greens, fruits, vegetables and beans. It has really good results for diabetics and works well for athletes, too," she says.

Thereís nothing earth-shattering about this way of eating, Kemeen-Fasules says. "Itís just normal regular food, but in the nutritarian food pyramid, vegetables are at the base," she says. A sample lunch menu would be a large salad of mixed greens and other vegetables with Ĺ to 1 cup of beans, Ĺ ounce of nuts and one piece of fruit.

Kemeen-Fasules stresses that there is no magic to being a nutritarian. "In my practice, I donít preach any diet plan," she says. "I do, however, encourage the maximum use of whole foods as much as a person is willing to include in their diet."


Know your sugars

Sugar seems to be on most health expertsí hit lists. Studies link it to obesity, diabetes and heart disease. While the percentages differ, most sugars are a combination of glucose and fructose, and theyíre all carbohydrates. "A carb is a carb is a carb," says Judy Mayer, a registered diet technician with Outpost Natural Foods in Milwaukee. "Your body doesnít know the difference," she says.

Table sugar is the most common version, derived from sugar cane or sugar beets, then thereís raw sugar. "Raw sugar is a product of the first stage of the cane sugar refining process. I do like its crunchy little granules," Mayer says.

"Coconut palm sugar is very popular right now, used in many diets and recipes. It provides the same calories and carbohydrates as regular sugar per teaspoon, but itís lower on the glycemic index, which measures how quickly blood sugar levels rise after eating a particular type of food," Mayer explains. At the same time, brown palm sugars differ in texture and taste from brown cane sugars, but are often minimally processed and still contain trace minerals.

Natural sugar alternatives include stevia, honey or molasses, and agave syrup. These are all very sweet, which means you can use less. The term "natural" can be deceptive, however. Agave syrup is very high in fructose, even higher than the 55 percent fructose in the much maligned high-fructose corn syrup. So, it pays to do your homework when searching for a sweetener.

Like nearly everything else, moderation is the key to consuming sugar, according to Mayer. "The best sugars would be the least processed Ö and then eaten in small amounts."





 

This story ran in the July 2014 issue of: