Imagine a super food that is the hero of your daily meals? It provides a nutrition-packed punch that can boost your health with every serving. Compared to ordinary foods, these contain high nutrient or phytochemical density for the amount of calories they contain – besides being lower in fats, sugars and sodium, the three “devils” of our society. They are also linked to reduced risk for certain diseases, such as heart disease and cancer.
Evidence and research continue to support findings that some foods provide key vitamins, minerals and substances such as phytochemicals to prevent the onset of chronic illness. Think about dark, green veggies, berries, legumes, orange fruits, whole grains, cold water fish, tomatoes and cultured dairy products.
Didn’t Popeye tell us to eat our spinach? Dark, green leafy vegetables, such as kale, spinach, collards promote good health. The darker the greens, the more phytochemicals they contain. Green leafy vegetables are good sources of calcium, magnesium, folate, polyphenols, fiber, vitamin A, C and K. Spinach is rich in zeaxanthin and lutein, which supports eye health and may lower age-related disorders.
Don’t you just love your berries? They’re an excellent source of vitamin C and insoluble fiber. Anthocyanins, which are the antioxidants they contain, reduce free radicals in the body associated with the aging process. Blueberries and cranberries promote healthy aging, may improve short-memory and may prevent urinary tract infections.
Beans and legumes are a good source of protein, low-fat and chocked with vitamins and minerals. Due to their high fiber content, they support weight control by contributing to satiety (fullness). Dried beans are a good source of minerals, including magnesium, selenium, iron and potassium. Red kidney beans, cannellini, adzuki, pinto and lima beans provide the greatest amounts of iron.
Think orange. The deep orange and yellow fat-soluble compounds are linked to health-promoting benefits such as sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, cantaloupe, mangoes, winter squash and orange bell pepper. These contain beta-carotene which is converted to vitamin A in the body providing a boost of antioxidants and a healthy immune system.
Rich in complex carbohydrates, whole grains are made up of starches and insoluble fiber. Whole grains, like whole wheat, rolled oats, barley, rye and brown rice have not been stripped away of their nutrients as their refined counterparts.
After years of research with the native people of Alaska, scientists associated cold water fish such as salmon, halibut, tuna, trout, sardines and mackerel with a low rate of heart disease. These omega-3 fatty acids protect our body against heart disease by reducing blood triglycerides, preventing blood clots, protecting against irregular heartbeats, lowering blood pressure and defending against inflammation.
Lycopene for prostate health? Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C and carotenes, including lycopene. Research has shown this substance to support a healthy prostate especially when choosing cooked tomatoes such as tomato sauce, salsa and tomato paste which enhances lycopene’s absorption in the body.
Last but not least, think “super” cultured dairy products by choosing yogurt labeled “live active culture”, kefir or buttermilk. These friendly bacteria or probiotics promote our immune system and act as a shield against harmful substances that move through the intestinal tract.