Top 10 staple LCHF Foods

When you decide to take care of your health by eating a healthy diet, you are usually making decisions about

  • the quantity of food (or more precisely: the energy intake)
  • the macronutrients (LCHF is a good option)

What people often miss in changing their diets is the micronutrients in the food. It’s impossible to stress the importance of those enough. So on top of your diet regime, please remember: just any egg is not necessarily good for you.

Choose your foods from good sources. Make sure you have choose grass-fed or organic meats, eggs and dairy. Choose real foods: there is no clear consensus on that idiom, but real food should be food that YOU yourself prepare for eating (and preparing doesn’t mean “heating in a microwave”!). Avoid processed food at all costs and if you have to eat out, choose wisely. Everyone has to eat out sometimes and that’s OK. Choose ham & eggs with veggies and ask for extra butter or salmon and veggies – it is a sure-fire way to survive the LCHF life without your own kitchen. In the really worst case scenario: eat butter.

Other than that, top 10 staple LCHF foods are:

In the 20th century butter was thoroughly demonized and instead we were told to eat margarine, because it’s made from plants. What an insanity! Butter is an amazing type of food – it is extremely tasty and transfers its yumminess to every food we add it to. On top of olfactory characteristics, butter is a top-notch vitamin delivery superpower: it contains vitamins A, B12, D, E and K2. Awesome collection of vitamins which rarely make an appearance in foods. Pay special attention to vitamins D and K2 – modern food is lacking these two, but they are vital for calcium metabolism and thus affecting cardiovascular diseases, cancer, osteoporosis …

Butter is also full of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). This beneficial compound is mostly found in meat and milk of grass-fed ruminants (grain-fed ruminants produce significantly less CLA). CLA is a fatty acid from omega-6 group. It exists both in cis- and trans- configuration, but unlike other trans fats this one is actually good for health. CLA affects weight control, has antiallergic and antioxidative characteristics, it’s beneficial for blood lipids levels, increases cells’ insulin sensitivity, promotes healthy metabolism …

Last but not least: butter means a lot of butyrate (or butyric acid, butanoic acid). Butyrate is extremely important for colon health and has a critical role in colonic inflammatory response. It improves mitochondria function, i.e. energy production and cell proliferation, has positive effect on glucose and insulin concentration in the blood. It can suppress appetite and thus helps maintain healthy body weight.

A good egg is perfect food. Not only protein and fats – the yolk contains all vitamins (except vitamin C). Yolk is also full of minerals, crucial for your thyroid, nervous system, bones, skin and hair and metabolism in general. If the eggs come from pasture-raised hens they will be rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Generally speaking – one of the key problems of modern food is the lack of omega-3 and too much omega-6. Cheap eggs will come with 1:17 ratio (omega3 vs. omega6), whereas optimal healthy ratio is 1:1 (or at least 1:2).

Coconut oil is ideal for cooking and baking – its chemical structure makes it resistant to heating (unlike many other fats, especially fats from vegetable sources). Nonetheless, it is awesome and beneficial even when just eaten cold. Coconut oil is the most important source of medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) and thus has antibacterial, antiviral and antimicrobial properties. Compared to other fats, MCTs are used for energy very fast after ingestion, plus they are vital for mental function. It is rich with vitamins E and K.

Eating fish can’t be recommended enough. Sardines, anchovies, sprats, mackerel and salmon are rich in the most important fatty acids and in easily digestible high biological value protein. On top of that fatty fish come fully packed with vitamins and minerals (most notably the vitamins B, potassium and selenium). Sardines are also rich in vitamin D, the one vitamin that is extremely rare in food, but very important for calcium and phosphorus metabolism and thus critical for bone health.

But above all, the fatty acids are probably the most important: fish are full of omega-3 fatty acids, namely EPA and DHA poly-unsaturated fatty acids which are critically low in typical “western” diets. Eat fish at least three times a week.

Technically avocado is a fruit, but unlike other fruits it’s extremely fat. 75 percent of its energy comes from the fats. Although banana is known to have the most potassium, it’s simply not true: avocado is the potassium king among the fruits! Other benefits of eating avocado: folate, vitamins B6, E and K. Including avocado in your diet helps you fight coronary-vascular diseases, diabetes and systemic inflammation. It boots the immune system and can be extra beneficial for pregnant women.

Including vegetables in your diet is a good protection against pH imbalance, as they provide us with the needed minerals. Steady levels of ingested minerals prevent the body to take them from the teeth, hair, skin and bones.

Vegetables also provide fibre. The role of fibre has been questioned in the recent years, but we do know that they can be beneficial for the glucose control and digestion. They provide satiety and help control the appetite.

The third benefit of eating veggies is their antioxidative power. Oxidative stress has many grounds – some of them we can control (life-style, bad habits, mental stress, balanced dose of exercise) and some we can’t effectively control (environmental factors). Including vegetables in our diets provides some defence against oxidative stress.

Lastly, vegetables are full of phytochemicals, chemicals produced by plants which can be beneficial for our health but are not considered essential nutrients. There are thousands of these biologically active compounds, usually in the form of pigments (carotenoids, chlorophyll and chlorophyllin, curcumin, flavonoids, isothiocyanates, lignans, phytosterols, resveratrol, isoflavones). They contribute to overall protection against cancer, they slow down the aging, help protect our bodies against DNA damage.

Cheese is extremely versatile type of food, but all of the types have two things in common: they are all rich in protein and dairy fats plus they are packed with micronutrients. Like butter most of the cheeses are rich with conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Due to its high fat content cheese makes you feel full and satiated. Cheeses with strong aroma and taste also help control the appetite. Cheese is good for your bone health, as it provides you with the vitamins D and K2. It is also a good source of vitamins A, B2, B12, phosphorous and zinc.

Many people think that LCHF is a meat-rich diet, which is simply a myth. Quite the contrary: LCHF basically leans more towards a vegetarian diet. Meat however can and remains a vital part of the LCHF nutrition, if you consider eating it. Animal protein is the best protein we have at our disposal (meat, eggs, dairy protein). On top of protein, fatty pieces of meat contain fat, that we all love. Unfortunately there’s a caveat to eating animal fat, especially if it’s not from grass fed animals: it is relatively high in omega-6. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with omega-6 fatty acids, the modern food is full of it. We should be eating more omega-3 fatty acids and try to decrease the amount of omega-6. So while meat and animal fat is OK in general sense, don’t base your fat intake on animal fat alone.

We know what we mean when we say nuts, but these can really be very versatile. However, they have many things in common: they are rich in fats, especially mono-unsaturated omega-9 and most of them are very low in carb content (other than cashews and peanuts). They are packed with vitamins E and B, and minerals (potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, iron, selenium and calcium). While all nuts should be part of any nutritional plan in moderation, in LCHF diet two are most recommended: the hazelnut and the macadamia nut.

Much like fats, salt has been demonized in the past few decades, but without any scientific and empirical proof. A meta-analysis, published in 2010, compared data on 6250 participants found no strong link between salt intake and risk of cardiovascular disease or death – neither in people with normal blood pressure nor in people with high blood pressure. While it’s true that in people with high blood pressure even small excesses of salt can increase blood pressure, the salt is not to blame. People with high blood pressure should limit their intake of carbs!

Being constantly high on carbs has one prominent consequence: the body is retaining a lot of salt. When we go LCHF and minimize the carb intake, sodium levels will decrease quite dramatically – even to the point of deficiency. For anyone starting LCHF diet it is therefore of an extreme importance to add salt. And then some!

While being portrayed as a culprit for all things that are wrong with modern nutrition, we started to forget what an important role salt plays in keeping our health sound. It helps to regulate the level of hydration; it is vital for the electrolyte balance in muscles and, consequently, the proper functioning of muscle cells. On top of that, it assists in maintenance of a normal cardiac rhythm, and is also important for the functioning of the brain. In extremely hot weather, it protects us from having a stroke, it is beneficial for the skin.

Spices are full of phytochemicals, some containing oil, minerals and vitamins. But more than that: spices really make a difference to the taste of the food we eat. Eating eggs is just fine – but eating eggs with a dash of pepper is another world altogether! Spices are much like butter: you can add them to just about any food and it will by sheer magic make it even more tasty. Having pleasure in what we eat is very important, as it means effective appetite control. So sprinkle those spices on your food!

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