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The Top 100 Zone Foods Making the Top 100
You probably assume you're a product of your genes. You have your father's I eyes, your mother's freckles, and your grandmother's diabetes. I, too, am a product of my genes. Every male on my father's side has died at an early death after suffering a premature heart attack. My father died in 1972 at the age of 54, and I was sure that I was genetically destined for this same fate.
Although I knew I couldn't change my genes, I didn't want to be a slave to them either. I was determined to alter my genetic destiny and live a normal, healthy lifespan. I didn't buy into the notion that some new medication would come along to save me. I had to take charge of my own health directly by changing my eating habits. So I decided to devote my work as a researcher to discovering what, if any, dietary habits could reverse my impending collision course with my genetic fate. Through 20 years of research, I've learned that food can indirectly turn certain genes on and off by altering the levels of hormones, the chemical messengers that control our lives. These hormones can alter our genetic fate by increasing or decreasing our natural lifespan.
One of the most powerful hormones controlled by the foods we eat is insulin. My research found that if you could keep insulin levels within a certain zone -- not too high and not too low -- you could, in fact, bypass your genetic glitches and avoid certain chronic diseases. The result? A longer and healthier life.
I called my program the Zone Diet. Although it was developed for treating cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes, it is also the most effective way to lose excess body fatwithout feeling deprived or hungry. It is not a short-term diet, but a life-long dietary strategy that can keep you at a healthy weight for the rest of your life. All you need to do is eat the right combination of foods at every meal. This means eating a balanced amount of carbohydrates, protein, and fat at every meal and snack -- and eating all these foods in moderation. Follow this simple rule at every meal, and you will achieve the hormonal responses that will get you into the Zone.
What does it mean to be in the Zone? Picture yourself going through your days feeling energized, happy, and satisfied. That's the feeling you get in the Zone. Now picture yourself feeling exhausted, hungry, and down in the dumps. That's what you feel like when you're out of the Zone. If you follow my Zone prescription, within a week you will be thinking better, performing better, and looking better. In the long run, you'll receive some rather remarkable health benefits like the permanent loss of excess body fat and a dramatically lowered risk of diabetes and heart disease.
The Zone has been incorrectly dubbed a high-protein diet by the popular press. The Zone is not a high-protein, high-carbohydrate, or high-anything diet. These diets are faddish quick fixes and run contrary to what Nature intended. The Zone is a balanced diet in the truest sense of the word. To stay healthy, you need to keep all of your body's systems in balance, and that's what the Zone Diet will do for you.The Healthiest Diet In The World
I firmly believe that the Zone Diet is the healthiest diet in the world. Like any piece of technology, the Zone keeps evolving. When I first created the Zone, I came up with a system called Zone Food Blocks and divided all foods into various blocks of protein, carbohydrate, and fat so that you could mix and match them to get the best hormonal output. As long as you have the right combination of protein, carbohydrate, and fat blocks, you can achieve the hormonal effects of the Zone. You do, however, still need to be selective about the quality of foods you eat. I also told you to avoid certain carbohydrates that cause dangerous rises in insulin (like bagels and potatoes). Dining on low-fat protein, heart-healthy fats, and tons of fruits and vegetables makes the Zone Diet the hands-down most nutritious eating plan you can follow.
The Zone Diet has continued to evolve into increasingly healthier versions; such as replacing low-fat animal protein with increasing amounts of soy protein. I wrote The Soy Zone based on the diet eaten by the longest-living population in the world, the Okinawans. Their basic diet is the Zone Diet, containing primarily vegetables, some fish and animal protein, but with most of their protein from soy. That's why you'll find numerous soy protein products on my Top 100 list.
For this book I took a little journey down memory lane. I went back through all my years of research and searched through studies conducted by other scientists to determine which particular foods are the absolute best for your health. New information is coming along every day, but all the foods on my Top 100 list have been found to have significant health benefits in study after study.
Of course, I'm not telling you that you need to eat only these foods. I want you to experience the hundreds of varieties of fruits and vegetables whose shimmering colors catch your eye on produce stands. (As you will find out later, more color means more free-radical-fighting abilities.) I do, however, think it's important to make certain foods staples in your diet. For instance, you can follow the Zone Diet and never eat a single cruciferous vegetable, yet you'd be missing out on the cancer-and aging-fighting chemicals that make broccoli, spinach, and kale so potent in lowering the risk of heart disease and cancer.
If you aren't using the highest-quality foods in your Zone meals, then you aren't reaping the maximum health benefits of the Zone. It's as simple as that. Maybe you're not quite sure how to fit your favorite fruits and vegetables into the plan. Perhaps you're reluctant to try something new if you don't have a recipe to use it in. Chapter 4, "The Top 100 Zone Foods," will give you easy and delicious recipes containing all of these foods.The Top 100 Zone Foods. Copyright © by Barry Sears. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.