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PostSubject: Lamb Lamb - health care   Sat Aug 27, 2011 9:30 am

Lamb Lamb

What's New and Beneficial about Lamb

When we think about omega-3 fats and their availability from plants versus animals, we usually think about nuts and seeds on the plant side of things and fish on the animal side. But on the animal side of things, we should also think about lamb! The omega-3 content of lamb depends upon the young sheep's diet as well as the mother's diet, but when those diets are nutritionally supportive, the result can be a cut of lamb with a very impressive amount of omega-3s. In regions of some countries without access to a coastline and fish, lamb has sometimes been shown to provide more omega-3s than any other food in the diet. In Australia, where lamb is eaten frequently by both children and adults, recent studies have shown lamb to rank among the top omega-3 foods in the daily diet. In our own nutritional profile of lamb, we use a conservative average estimate of 40 milligrams of omega-3s per ounce of roasted lamb loin. That's 50% of the omega-3s in an ounce of baked cod fish or broiled tuna, and 67% of the amount in an ounce of sesame seeds.
Recent studies have shown pasture feeding to be especially important for optimal nourishment from lamb. In research comparing indoor feeding on hay and nutrient concentrates with outdoor pasture feeding, pasture-fed lamb was found to contain significantly lower levels of trans fatty acids with the exception of a single trans fatty acid called vaccenic acid. Trans fats are a type of dietary fat that we want to avoid in large amounts due to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, but vaccenic acid is one specific type of trans fat that we do not want to avoid since it's the building block for a cardioprotective fatty acid called CLA (conjugated linoleic acid). In terms of total trans fat content, vaccenic acid content, and CLA content, we encourage you to select pasture-fed lamb over indoor-fed lamb. If you don't see the words "pasture-fed" on the label of pre-packaged lamb in your grocery, ask the store staff for help in determining this important aspect of the lamb you might purchase. Of course, thanks to important changes in 2010 by the U.S. National Organics Program requiring at least 120 days of pasture feeding for all ruminant animals including cows and sheep, another great option for assuring pasture feeding is to buy organic!
Certified organic lamb may also help you avoid some potential contaminant problems shown by recent studies on non-organically produced lamb. We've reviewed results from a recent study on grazing pastures used for the feeding of lambs that had previously been fertilized with sewage sludge, and contrary to the authors' conclusion, were very concerned about some increased amounts of cancer-related substances in the final lamb cuts, including the cancer-related substances used in production of plastic products called diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP). Since sewage sludge is not allowed as a fertilizer in certified organic foods, unwanted exposure to DEHP might be avoided by the purchase of certified organic lamb.

Food Chart
This chart graphically details the %DV that a serving of Lamb provides for each of the nutrients of which it is a good, very good, or excellent source according to our Food Rating System. Additional information about the amount of these nutrients provided by Lamb can be found in the Food Rating System Chart. A link that takes you to the In-Depth Nutritional Profile for Lamb, featuring information over 80 nutrients, can be found under the Food Rating System Chart.

Health Benefits
How to Select and Store
How to Enjoy
Individual Concerns
Nutritional Profile

Health Benefits

Because lamb has received much less attention in the research literature than its fellow ruminant meatâ€"namely, beefâ€"we have been unable to find large-scale research studies on humans that analyze lamb intake and its relationship to disease. Another factor involved with the absence of health research on lamb within the U.S. has been the very limited consumption of lamb by U.S. adults (less than one pound per year). Based on overall research findings on lamb and nutrition, however, we would expect large-scale, human research studies to demonstrate health benefits for lamb in several areas.

May Support Heart Health

The first area of expected health benefits involves cardiovascular diseases. Our reasons for expected specific health benefits in this area are as follows:

Lamb is commonly included as a meat consumed in Mediterranean diets, which have repeatedly been shown to help lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
Despite the fact that about one-third of the fat in lamb comes from saturated fat, lamb (especially when pasture fed) can be a significant source of omega-3 fat and is also contains a large amount of monounsaturated fat (40% of its total fat). Both omega-3 fat and monounsaturated fat have been associated with decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.
While pasture-fed lamb can naturally contain small amounts of trans fat, one of the trans fats it contains is vaccenic acid, a precursor for conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA intake is associated with decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Lamb is a good source of vitamin B12 and also provides important amounts of the B vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, folate, biotin, pantothenic acid and choline. Vitamins B6, B12, folate and choline are especially important for healthy metabolism of homocysteine and can help prevent unwanted accumulation of excess homocysteine in the body. High blood levels of homocysteine are a key risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Trimmed lean cuts (like loin and leg) from pasture-fed lamb provide a ratio of omega-6:omega-3 fat of approximately 5:1. According to repeated research findings, this ratio falls into an ideal range for lowering risk of heart disease.
Lamb provides antioxidant minerals that have been shown to help lower risk of cardiovascular disease by reducing unwanted oxidative stress. Lamb provides a very good amount of the mineral selenium and good amount of the mineral zinc.

Additional Potential Health Benefits

A second area where we would expect to see health benefits from lamb consumption would involve blood sugar regulation. Lamb has long been a part of menus and recipes endorsed by the American Diabetic Association, where it is viewed as a lean meat that is high in protein and that can be beneficially incorporated into recipes in amounts of 3-4 ounces per serving. Lamb is often unranked on lists of glycemic index (GI) values due to its virtually non-existent carb content. This absence of carbs in lamb might allow the very broad B-vitamin content of lamb to help support metabolism of other carbs provided by other foods that were consumed alongside of the lamb. (Vitamins B1, B2 and B3 are especially important in optimal functioning of enzymes in carbohydrate metabolism.)


Americans eat a fraction of the amount of lamb consumed in many other countries in the world. And that's too bad since this red meat is very healthful and extremely delicious, having a very tender and buttery quality. Lamb is the meat from young sheep that are less than one year old. It is usually available in five different cuts including the shoulder, rack, shank/breast, loin and leg. Additionally, many stores sell it already ground to be used to make burgers, meat loaf or sauces.

Lamb belongs to the group of mammals known as ruminants which have unique digestive systems that enable them to stay healthy on a diet of grasses and forage plants. More specifically, lamb belongs to the special group of ruminants that are cloven-hoofed. This group is often referred to as the "bovid" group since the scientific name for its family is the Bovidae. Alongside of lamb, the bovids include bison, buffalo, antelope, gazelle, goats, and domestic cattle. The word "lamb" refers to meat from a baby sheep that was less than 12 months in age prior to slaughter. (Meat from adult sheep is called "mutton.") The genus and species for lamb is Ovis aries.


Sheep were among the first animals ever to be domesticated by humans more than 10,000 years. The domestication of sheep mostly likely started out in the Middle East, in what is now Turkey. As a source of not only food, but also textiles (wool), sheep were introduced and became popular throughout many regions of the world. The Romans introduced sheep into Great Britain, where lamb remains very popular, over 2,000 years ago. Lamb was not introduced into the Western Hemisphere until the early 16th century when the armies of the Spanish explorer Cortez brought sheep with them on their explorations.

What was most prized by early civilizations was not the meat obtainable from sheep but rather their wool. In Babylonia, Sumaria and Persia, the raising of sheep for their fleece became an important industry to such an extent that flocks of sheep were used as the medium of exchange between countries engaging in barter. In Greek mythology, fleece from "the gold-haired winged ram" was the reason for the great question of Jason and the Argonauts that was needed to convince King Pelias of Jason's worthiness of a kingship.Since ancient times, lamb has been regarded as a religious symbol. It was commonly used as a sacrifice, and a symbol of sacrifice, in many religions including Judaism. In many countries, lamb is a traditional dish at Easter in commemoration of the Last Supper at which lamb was likely served. Jesus is often referred to as the "Lamb of God".

Lamb is a staple in cuisines throughout the world including Turkey, Greece, New Zealand, Australia and countries of the Middle East. Today the largest lamb producing countries in the world are Australia and New Zealand. Over two-third of all lamb important into the U.S. currently come from Australia, and most of the remaining one-third of imports come from New Zealand. (These same ratios hold true for mutton as well as lamb.) Both Mexico and Canada are significant exporters of mutton to the rest of the world, but only exports small amounts of lamb.

How to Select and Store

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) requires inspection of lamb for overall wholesomeness. However, grading of lamb is voluntary, and not all cuts of lamb in the grocery will carry a USDA Grade. The USDA currently authorizes five grades for lamb, including prime, choice, good, utility, and cull. Prime and choice are usually the only grades that you will find in the supermarket. Prime and choice grades of lamb are similar in terms of tenderness and juiciness and are higher in fat than the lower three grades. If you want to lower your total fat intake while including lamb on a regular basis in your diet, you may want to choose lamb that's been graded as "choice" over lamb that's been graded as "prime" since choice lamb does have slightly lower marbling (and total fat content) than prime lamb. Although lamb is generally a very tender meat, there are still signs you can look for to better ensure high quality. Purchase lamb whose flesh is firm and fine textured and pink in color. Any fat surrounding or marbled throughout the lamb should be white, not yellow.

"Spring lamb" is label that used to be helpful in determining a particular type of lamb, but has now come to be as confusing as it is helpful. Originally, "spring lamb" was a description used for breeds of sheep that gave birth in the late fall, nursed newborns through the winter, and moved out to pasture in early spring. Over time, the term "spring lamb" also started to be used for lambs that were born in the spring and raised during summer and early fall. To make matters even more complicated, lengthened breeding seasons and more flexible pasture options have expanded the time of availability for fresh lamb, and the term "spring lamb" is now sometimes used when there is no unique relationship between spring and the animal's upbringing! In many cases, "spring lamb" is a term that does still apply to locally grown lamb that has pastured in early spring and goes to market in spring or summer, often times at local farmer's markets.

Since lamb is highly perishable, it should always be kept at cold temperatures, either refrigerated or frozen. After purchasing lamb, you'll want to get it home as soon as possible and refrigerate it immediately at 40°F/4°C or below. Refrigerate the lamb in the original store packaging, if it is still intact and secure, to reduce the amount of handling involved. If the lamb has a "Use-By" date, follow that for guidelines as to how long it will stay fresh. If it does not, then follow these simple guidelines: lamb roasts and chops can stay fresh in the refrigerator three to five days while ground lamb will only stay fresh for up to two days.

If you have more lamb than you can use within this period of time, you can freeze it. Using freezer paper or plastic freezer wrap, wrap the lamb carefully so that it is as tightly packaged as possible. If you plan to freeze for one week or longer, it's a good idea to overwrap it with a second layer or place the already-wrapped lamb into a freezer bag to prevent freezer burn. Ground lamb should be able to keep for three to four months while roasts and chops will keep for about six to nine months.

How to Enjoy

Tips for Preparing Lamb

When handling raw lamb be extremely careful that it does not come in contact with other foods, especially those that will be served uncooked because raw meats can contain E. coli bacteria. It is best to use a separate plastic cutting board for meats. Be sure you wash you hands and cutting board very well with hot soapy water after handling lamb. It is a good idea to add 2 TBS of bleach to two cups of water in a spray bottle and use this mixture to clean your cutting board after use.

Thaw uncooked frozen lamb in the refrigerator. You'll need to plan well ahead if you want to take advantage of this safest method of thawing since lamb thawing in the refrigerator will typically take about 24 hours. After defrosting raw cuts of lamb in this way they will be safe in the refrigerator for up to three or four days. If defrosting ground lamb, the safety margin in the refrigerator does down to 1-2 days.

There are two alterative methods that you can use for lamb thawing, although neither method is as safe since more handing and quicker changes in temperature are involved. You can put the frozen lamb (still tightly sealed in a freezer wrap or placed in a tightly-sealed bag) and submerge it in a sink or pot filled with cold water. After 30 minutes, drain all of the water and refill the sink or pot. Continue with this fill-and-drain approach every 30 minutes until the lamb is thawed. This thawing method for lamb is far quicker than the refrigerator method but has less margin of safety due to increased handling and quicker changes in temperature. If using this method to thaw your lamb, you should also plan to cook it immediately after thawing.

Lamb can also be thawed in the microwave, using microwave settings as indicated by the manufacturer. Once again, this method is not as safe as refrigerator thawing due to increased handling and quicker temperature change. Like cold water thawing, plan to cook your lamb immediately after thawing in the microwave.

Regardless of thawing method, make sure to wash your hands and any potential lamb contact surface immediately after use. We do not recommend thawing of lamb or any other meat at room temperature under any circumstance due to unevenness of temperature changes and microbial contamination risk.

It is best to trim the fat from lamb before cooking not only to remove unhealthy fat, but to avoid producing an overly strong flavor in the lamb.

The Healthiest Way of Cooking Lamb

The best way to cook lamb is to use methods that will keep it moist and tender. Lamb can be easily overcooked and become dry so be sure to watch your cooking times. Different cuts of lamb are best prepared using different methods:

Shoulder: Best to make stew
Shank/breast: best braised
Lamb chops: Best roasted or "Quick Broiled"
Rack of Lamb: Best roasted or "Quick Broiled"
Ground Lamb: Best "Healthy Sauteed"

One of our favorite ways to prepare lamb is to "Quick Broil" lamb chops by preheating the broiler on high and placing an all stainless steel skillet (be sure the handle is also stainless steel) or cast iron pan under the heat for about 10 minutes to get it very hot. Place lamb on hot pan and broil for 7-10 minutes, depending on thickness. You do not need to turn the lamb. (See our 10-Minute Rosemary Lamb Chops recipe for details on how to prepare "Quick Broiled" lamb chops.)

A Few Quick Serving Ideas

Ground lamb makes delicious burgers. Season and cook as you would a hamburger.
Braise lamb loin pieces in red wine, garlic and rosemary.
The hearty flavor of lamb makes it a wonderful meat to be featured in a stew.
For a healthy twist on the traditional food pairing, serve lamb with a mint yogurt sauce, made from plain yogurt, mint leaves, garlic, and cayenne.
Place bite-size pieces of lamb on a skewer with your favorite grilling vegetables and make lamb shish kebobs.
Serve grilled lamb with green beans or ratatouille.

WHFoods Recipes That Feature Lamb

Healthy Breakfast Frittata
10-Minute Rosemary Lamb Chops
Indian Style Lamb with Sweet Potatoes
Roast Leg of Lamb

Individual Concerns

Red meat (including lamb) can be a significant source of dietary saturated fat and cholesterol. Excessive intake of these two nutrients has been associated with development of various chronic diseases, including heart disease and some forms of cancer. Trimmed leg of lamb and trimmed lamb loin offer the leanest cuts of lamb, but even in the case of these leaner cuts - for example, four ounces of roasted lamb loinâ€"you will be getting an average of 11 grams of fat (43% of the total calories in the lamb), about 4 grams of saturated fat, and about 100 milligrams of cholesterol. If you were following an 1,800 calorie diet, you would be left with about 14 additional grams of saturated fat for the entire day to stay at the American Heart Association (AHA) limit of 7% total calories from saturated fat, and about 200 additional milligrams of cholesterol to stay at the AHA limit of 300 milligrams. While these guidelines can definitely be met with careful planning, many health professionals recommend daily intake of red meat at no more than 3 ounces (average) per day to leave room for realistic food options throughout the day.

Lamb and Purines

Lamb contain naturally-occurring substances called purines. Purines are commonly found in plants, animals, and humans. In some individuals who are susceptible to purine-related problems, excessive intake of these substances can cause health problems. Since purines can be broken down to form uric acid, excess accumulation of purines in the body can lead to excess accumulation of uric acid. The health condition called gout and the formation of kidney stones from uric acid are two examples of uric acid-related problems that can be related to excessive intake of purine-containing foods. For this reason, individuals with kidney problems or gout may want to limit or avoid intake of purine-containing foods such as lamb.

Nutritional Profile

Lamb is seldom mentioned as a significant source of omega-3 fats, but can provide a valuable amount in the diet, at approximately 50% the amount provided by cod fish or tuna on an ounce-for-ounce basis. Lamb can also contain valuable amounts of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), a cardioprotective fatty acid. Lamb is a very good source of immunity-supportive protein and selenium. It is also a good source of heart-healthy vitamin B12 and niacin; blood sugar-balancing zinc; and energy-producing phosphorus.

For an in-depth nutritional profile click here: Lamb.

In-Depth Nutritional Profile
In addition to the nutrients highlighted in our ratings chart, an in-depth nutritional profile for Lamb is also available. This profile includes information on a full array of nutrients, including carbohydrates, sugar, soluble and insoluble fiber, sodium, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids and more.

Introduction to Food Rating System Chart
In order to better help you identify foods that feature a high concentration of nutrients for the calories they contain, we created a Food Rating System. This system allows us to highlight the foods that are especially rich in particular nutrients. The following chart shows the nutrients for which this food is either an excellent, very good, or good source (below the chart you will find a table that explains these qualifications). If a nutrient is not listed in the chart, it does not necessarily mean that the food doesn't contain it. It simply means that the nutrient is not provided in a sufficient amount or concentration to meet our rating criteria. (To view this food's in-depth nutritional profile that includes values for dozens of nutrients - not just the ones rated as excellent, very good, or good - please use the link below the chart.) To read this chart accurately, you'll need to glance up in the top left corner where you will find the name of the food and the serving size we used to calculate the food's nutrient composition. This serving size will tell you how much of the food you need to eat to obtain the amount of nutrients found in the chart. Now, returning to the chart itself, you can look next to the nutrient name in order to find the nutrient amount it offers, the percent Daily Value (DV%) that this amount represents, the nutrient density that we calculated for this food and nutrient, and the rating we established in our rating system. For most of our nutrient ratings, we adopted the government standards for food labeling that are found in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's "Reference Values for Nutrition Labeling." Read more background information and details of our rating system.

Lamb loin, roasted
4.00 oz-wt
113.40 grams
229.07 calories
Nutrient Amount DV
(%) Nutrient
Density World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
tryptophan 0.35 g 109.4 8.6 excellent
protein 30.15 g 60.3 4.7 very good
selenium 34.36 mcg 49.1 3.9 very good
vitamin B12 (cobalamin) 2.45 mcg 40.8 3.2 good
vitamin B3 (niacin) 7.75 mg 38.8 3.0 good
zinc 4.60 mg 30.7 2.4 good
phosphorus 233.60 mg 23.4 1.8 good
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating Rule
excellent DV>=75% OR Density>=7.6 AND DV>=10%
very good DV>=50% OR Density>=3.4 AND DV>=5%
good DV>=25% OR Density>=1.5 AND DV>=2.5%

In-Depth Nutritional Profile for Lamb


AL-Numair K, Lewis NM, and Evans S. Omega-3 Fatty Acid Consumption and Food Sources Differ among Elderly Men Living in Coastal and Internal Regions of Saudi Arabia. Pakistan Journal of Nutrition Year: 2005 Vol: 4 Issue: 2 Pages/record No.: 106-111. 2005.
Clayton EH, Hanstock TL and Watson JF. Estimated intakes of meat and fish by children and adolescents in Australia and comparison with recommendations. The British Journal of Nutrition. Cambridge: Jun 28, 2009. Vol. 101, Iss. 12; p. 1731-1735. 2009.
Economic Research Service. ). Livestock and Meat Trade Data Lamb and mutton: Annual and cumulative year-to-date U.S. trade. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. Available online at: 2011.
Food Safety and Inspection Service. (2007). Food Safety Information: Lamb from Farm to Table. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), Washington, D.C. Available online at: 2007.
Maiorano G, Kowaliszyn B, D'Alessandro AG et al. The . The effect of production system information on consumer expectation and acceptability of Leccese lamb meat. Annals: Food Science and Technology Year: 2010 Vol: 11 Issue: 1 Pages/record No.: 1-5. 2010.
Neville BW, Schauer CS, Karges K et al. Effect of thiamine concentration on animal health, feedlot performance, carcass characteristics, and ruminal hydrogen sulfide concentrations in lambs fed diets based on 60% distillers dried grains plu. Journal of Animal Science. Savoy: Jul 2010. Vol. 88, Iss. 7; p. 2444-2455. 2010.
Noone EJ, Roche HM, Nugent AP et al. The effect of dietary supplementation using isomeric blends of conjugated linoleic acid on lipid metabolism in healthy human subjects. Br J Nutr. 2002 Sep;88(3):243-51. 2002.
Radunz AE, Wickersham LA, Loerch SC et al. Effects of dietary polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation on fatty acid composition in muscle and subcutaneous adipose tissue of lambs. J Anim Sci. 2009 Dec;87(12):4082-91. Epub 2009 Aug 28. 2009.
Rhind SM, Kyle CE, Telfer G et al. Alkyl Phenols and Diethylhexyl Phthalate in Tissues of Sheep Grazing Pastures Fertilized with Sewage Sludge or Inorganic Fertilizer. Research Triangle Park: Apr 2005. Vol. 113, Iss. 4; p. 447-453. 2005.
Scerra M, Caparra P, Foti F et al. Intramuscular fatty acid composition of lambs fed diets containing alternative protein sources. Meat Sci. 2011 Mar;87(3):229-33. Epub 2010 Oct 23. 2011.
Serra A, Macciotta NPP,Mele M et al. Effect of weight of slaughter and feeding regimen on conjugated linoleic acid and trans fatty acid content in lamb meat: a meta-analysis approach. Italian Journal of Animal Science Year: 2010 Vol: 8 Issue: 2s Pages/record No.: 540-542. 2010.
Whitney TR and Lupton CJ. Evaluating percentage of roughage in lamb finishing diets containing 40% dried distillers grains: Growth, serum urea nitrogen, nonesterified fatty acids, and insulin growth factor-1 concentrations and. J. Anim Sci. 2009. 87:4082-4091. doi:10.2527/jas.2009-2059. 2009.
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PostSubject: Re: Lamb Lamb - health care   Sat Aug 27, 2011 7:59 pm

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