Beyond "heart smart" or "light," some restaurants are serving up foods to enhance the immune system.
Buying organic meats, shopping farmers markets, many California restaurants emphasize healthy dining. But beyond vegan, raw and macrobiotic menus, one Beverly Hills eatery is dishing out food to enhance immunity.
"What we've got here on the table and what the menu really represents is how we want to eat in totality," says dietitian Ashley Koff.
Dietitian Ashley Koff was hired by Crustacean of Beverly Hills to scrutinize the menu. Choosing foods offering the best in vitamins, minerals, plant chemicals, healthy oils and spices, which Koff says is different than serving foods with an added immune boost.
"I'm not saying 'immune boosting,'" says Koff. "This isn't Jamba Juice, where we are dropping something in and boosting something up. We're talking about foods that exist in nature." We sampled New Zealand green lip mussels in pesto offering iron-packed protein with omega-3 fats, along with a nice dose of zinc, selenium and vitamin C. Along with wild salmon tartar, rich in omega-3s, protein, and a plethora of vitamins A, C, B6, and a host of minerals. Also on the menu: snapper in dill and stir-fried vegetables, just a few of 19 offerings on the immunity-enhancing menu.
As Koff points out, eating well doesn't mean a typical boring chicken, steamed veggies and brown rice dinner. Spices help to rev up taste and nutrition. Turmeric, ginger, garlic and other spices bring antioxidant power to the plate. One of Chef Helene An's favorites is parsley. "They have a lot of vitamin C, a lot of vitamin A, more than carrot, and they have a calcium too," says Chef Helene An.
These foods provide pleasure in nutrients as well as the palate, which could mean eating less. "When we feel good and happy about what we're eating, stress levels are lower, we're more likely to eat an appropriate quantity," says Koff.
Most experts suggest taking some supplements as it is unrealistic to eat all needed nutrients from meals in one day, but Koff maintains eating trumps pill-popping every time.
"Science continues to show that foods surpass supplements in terms of immune-enhancing nutrients," says Koff. And while the motto "eat to live" is much better than "live to eat," the jury is still out whether an immunity-boosting menu will catch on. But let's look at it this way: It's a much better direction than "all you can eat," or "super-size me."