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Grocery List: Healthy Lunches

When shopping for the upcoming week, add ingredients for these healthy lunch suggestions to your list. All are convenient, cost-effective meal ideas!

Want a noon meal that will cost less, taste better and provide more nutrition than most dining-out options? Try the following - each is easy to make and will fill you up without emptying your wallet. (For the chili and soup options, invest in a wide-mouth vacuum container, preferably lined with stainless steel.)

  1. Vegetarian chili - beans and fresh vegetables provide protein and fiber. Top with natural cheese for an extra serving of calcium.
  2. Salmon salad and whole grain crackers - canned salmon is a cost-effective way to get omega-3 fatty acids into your diet: simply mix wild-caught salmon with some lemon juice, pepper and fresh herbs and spread on fiber-rich crackers.
  3. Hummus and vegetables - easy to pack, and the chickpeas in the hummus provide protein and fiber, while the vegetables offer up antioxidants. Bring a variety of organic, colorful vegetables for interesting taste and texture.
  4. Miso soup and edamame - miso is full of isoflavones, antioxidants and protective fatty acids, and edamame contains isoflavones that have antioxidant activity and may help lower cancer risk.
  5. Barley salad - barley is a satisfying, nutty, low-glycemic-load grain. Start with barley and add whatever you prefer - grilled vegetables, tofu, beans - for a customized salad that can be eaten warm or cold.
  6. Lentil soup - a good source of fiber and magnesium, lentils cook quickly and are filling and satisfying year-round. Get the recipe here.

Chili Peppers for Colon Health?

Capsaicin, a natural compound found in hot peppers (it's what gives them their heat), is an effective local anesthetic, and may be good for our hearts and blood vessels as well because it lowers cholesterol (although we don't yet know how). And now new research suggests that capsaicin can also reduce the risk of colorectal tumors, at least in mice. The compound seems to work by activating TRPV1, a receptor in cells that form the lining in mouse (and human) intestines, leading to a reaction that helps reduce risk from tumors. The study, from the University of California, San Diego, found that feeding capsaicin to mice prone to gastrointestinal tract tumors reduced the growths and extended the lives of the mice by more than 30 percent. The treatment may work in humans, too. Study leader Eyal Raz said the new findings suggest that “individuals at high risk of developing recurrent intestinal tumors may benefit from chronic TRPV1 activation. We have provided proof of principle.” Another member of the team added that future studies should be designed to explore the association between TRPV1 function and human colorectal cancer.

Eyal Raz et al, Ion channel TRPV1-dependent activation of PTP1B suppresses EGFR-associated intestinal tumorigenesis” The Journal of Clinical Investigation on August 1, 2014 doi: 10.1172/JCI72340