Five Fantastic Superfoods
August 7, 2013 | Found In: , Healthy Body
Maintaining a healthy diet is essential to supporting healthy mind and body, especially in older age. Here we share five whole foods with super-healing powers – from fighting cancer to reducing cholesterol –you can incorporate into your diet.
1. Kiwi – Kiwi contains high levels of vitamin C (double the amount found in oranges), has more fiber than an apple and packs more potassium than a banana. The unique blend of phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals found in kiwi helps protect against heart disease, stroke, cancer and respiratory disease. Kiwi’s natural blood-thinning properties support vascular health by reducing the formation of spontaneous blood clots, lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels and reducing blood pressure. Multiple studies have shown that kiwi not only reduces oxidative stress but also prompts damaged cells to repair themselves.
How much: Aim to eat one to two kiwis a day while they’re in season for the best taste and optimal benefits. The riper the kiwi, the greater the antioxidant power, so let them ripen before eating.
2. Cherries – Cherries have many healing powers. In lab studies, quercetin and ellagic acid, two compounds found in cherries, have been shown to inhibit the growth of tumors and kill cancer cells – without damaging healthy cells. Cherries also have antiviral and antibacterial properties and regular consumption may help lower the risk of heart attack, colon cancer and stroke.
How much: Aim for a daily serving while they’re in season and keep a bag of frozen cherries in your freezer for the rest of the year. Frozen cherries retain 100 percent of their nutritional value and make a great addition to smoothies, yogurt and oatmeal.
3. Beans – Many people do not realize the wide variety of health benefits that beans offer. They are not only packed with fiber, protein and antioxidants, but they also lower cholesterol, regulate blood sugar, promote digestive health and reduce the risk of cancer. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health reported that women who consumed beans at least twice a week were 24 percent less likely to develop breast cancer, and multiple studies have tied bean consumption to a reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and breast and colon cancers.
How much: Aim for a minimum of two servings of beans per week.
4. Watercress – Watercress likely doesn’t immediately come to mind when thinking of popular superfoods. You may be surprised to learn that watercress is packed with vitamins A and K along with multiple antioxidant carotenoids and protective phytochemicals. The nutrients found in watercress reduce the risk of certain cancers, including lung and esophageal cancer, and macular degeneration, help build the immune system and support bone health.
How much: Aim to incorporate watercress into your daily diet if possible. Watercress has more nutritional benefits when eaten raw, so try adding to a sandwich, salad or smoothie for an added nutritional kick!
5. Onions – Onions may not be good for your breath, but they are great for your body. High in antioxidants and other cancer-fighting enzymes, studies have shown that onion consumption is correlated with a reduced risk of prostate and esophageal cancers. Onions also help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as help prevent bone loss. They contain quercetin, a natural antihistamine that reduces airway inflammation and helps relieve symptoms of allergies and hay fever.
How much: Aim to eat one a day. For some, this may be hard, but onions can be easily incorporated into almost any dish for added flavor. All varieties contain health benefits, but shallots and yellow onions contain the highest levels of antioxidants.
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