The “Basic Seven” Foods
1. Green and yellow leafy vegetables. These may be used either cooked or raw, fresh or frozen. They include cabbage, lettuce, broccoli, sprouts, asparagus, spinach, celery, and similar greens. These provide vitamin A to protect eyes and skin and to guard against infection. They also provide iron for the blood and roughage for elimination.
2. Fruits—at least two each day. One may be an orange or some other citrus fruit. Another may be a banana, tomato, apple, pear, peach, a bunch of grapes, or some tropical fruit. For variety use strawberries, canteloupe, or some type of melon. These fruits provide vitamin C, which is essential for strong blood vessels and healthy gums and teeth. They also provide roughage for better elimination. Fresh fruits are best for these purposes. Heat destroys vitamin C.
3. Potatoes and other vegetables. Two or more servings should be eaten each day. These include Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, beets, carrots, parsnips, lentils, onions, peas, beans, soybeans, and many more. Vitamins and minerals are present in all vegetables. Potatoes are a good source, especially when cooked in their skins. Vegetables may be used in various ways. Raw carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A. Vegetables provide bulk, which aids digestion.
4. Milk and dairy products. The very minimum for an adult should be a pint a day, or more, and a quart a day for each growing child or pregnant mother. Nursing mothers need even more. The milk may be in fluid form, as whole milk, buttermilk, skim milk, canned or evaporated milk, condensed milk, dried milk, or some form of cheese. One ounce of cheddar cheese is equal to a cup of milk. The milk can be used as a beverage or in cooking, such as soups, puddings, and desserts. Milk is a fine source of protein. It also provides minerals, vitamins, and especially calcium, which is needed for bones, teeth, nerves, and muscles.
5. Protein foods. Foods that are rich in proteins include beans, peas, soybeans, nuts, peanuts, eggs, meat, or fish. Soybeans are the richest source of proteins known. They are far richer than eggs, liver, kidney, or any other meat products and far less expensive. They have been used in the Orient for many generations. Dried peas, beans, lentils, and peanuts are all similar to meat in food value.
6. Whole-grain breads and cereals, at least two or three slices of bread and one dish of cooked cereal each day. These are particularly valuable for growing children and adults who work hard. Whole grains include wheat, rice, barley, corn, and other grains. “Enriched white flour” is better than ordinary white flour, but it is still lacking in certain essential elements. Grains and cereals provide calories for energy, as well as vitamins, minerals, and roughage. Whole grains, freshly ground, are best.
7. Butter, cream, fortified margarine, or other vegetable fats. A certain amount of fat is essential in every diet. Salad oils, olive oil, corn oil, and similar products may be substituted to meet the daily requirements for fat in the diet. Fats provide calories for heat and energy. They yield more than twice as much energy as carbohydrates.
Other foods rich in fats are egg yolk, vegetable oils, olives, nuts, and soybeans.
These are the “basic seven” food groups. One or two from each group should be included in the diet of the whole family every day. The quantities need not be large. The wider the variety, the better. Serve each food attractively. Eye appeal is always important.
In considering the “basic seven,” you will notice that there is no mention of white sugar, spices, or condiments. None of these is essential in the diet. Ordinary white sugar does provide energy, but that is all. There are no vitamins or minerals in refined sugar.
In addition to these “basic seven” food groups one should include at least six to eight glasses of water each day. Water is necessary for removing wastes from the body. It aids in maintaining a normal temperature and in moistening the air we breathe. We do get some water from our foods, but not nearly enough to supply all our needs. Many who complain of sluggishness, fatigue, and nervous headaches would feel better if they were taking more water. It is best to drink between meals. Drinking water should be pure and free from harmful germs. If in doubt, boil the water before using it.
Over two thirds of the human body is composed of water in some form or other. This means that a person weighing 150 pounds has more than one hundred pounds of water in his physical make-up. Even the bones are one-third water. Without sufficient water, the blood cannot circulate properly. Nor can the digestive organs work as they should. All the cells need water. This is the remarkable fluid in which myriads of chemical and electrical reactions are taking place all the time.
A reliable supply of pure water is essential to the life and health of every family. One may live quite a while without food, but not more than a few days without water. There is no substitute for water. It is indeed the liquid of life. Those who follow the “basic seven” in their choice of foods and include a generous supply of pure water need never fear. They will be taking a balanced diet, and they will feel the benefits of good health all their lives.