Welcome to the New Year! While we believe healthy food should be on everyone’s mind as they go about their normal day, we realize it’s of particular interest during the start of each New Year. To help you with healthy choices, we’ve provided a run down of our favorite Power Foods, also known as Super Foods. Why are these foods so super, you might ask? The answer is found in their abilities to protect our bodies at a cellular level through provision of natural plant chemicals, antioxidants, flavonoids, carotenoids and vitamins. Start incorporating these easy to find, easy to afford foods into your diet and enjoy the path to a healthier lifestyle.
Loaded with protective pigments and plant chemicals, berries can reduce the aging process at a cellular level, reduce cancer risk, lower blood pressure, protect our brains from declination due to aging, plus they provide fiber and natural sweetness to our diets.
This group of superfoods includes cauliflower, broccoli, bok choy, brussels sprouts, cabbage, horseradish, wasabi, and radishes (to name a few). These vegetables contain powerful sulfur compounds that dramatically reduce cancer risk, provide potassium to lower blood pressure, and protect against heart disease. One researcher predicted that if every American ate a half cup serving per day of these vegetables, that cancer rates would drop 50% within ten years! Your Mom was right – vegetables count toward your well-being.
All nuts provide powerful protection against disease. Studies have found that daily nut consumption can reduce heart disease risk by up to 50%, calm inflammation in the body, help us feel satisfied thereby helping us with weight control, and they provide a great source of plant-based protein.
Studies around the world have discovered that daily yogurt consumption is associated with longevity and health. The best yogurts are fermented with healthy bacteria and do not have high quantities of added sugars (if any). Yogurt is full of protein, calcium, and probiotics to keep our bones, guts, and immune system working at top capacity.
Apples contain a plant chemical called quercetin, helping to protect against inflammation, cancer, and heart disease. “An apple a day” does in fact keep the doctor away.
Citrus fruits are loaded with carotenoids and a group of plant chemicals called limonenes. They also contain potassium, a mineral essential for keeping our blood pressure under control. The compounds provided naturally in citrus protect against heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, and inflammation. Try to have at least one serving a day of a citrus fruit, or 4oz of pure citrus juice without added sugar.
Avocados & Olive Oil
Avocados and olive oil are full of protective fats known as Monounsaturated fats. These fats naturally calm metabolic inflammation in the body, reducing the likelyhood of heart disease, cancer, and diminishing pain from arthritis and other autoimmune diseases. These are the healthy fats we hear so much about. Try sliced avocados on a salad or sandwich, drizzled with a robust olive oil for satisfaction and a happy heart.
Garlic & Onions
These super foods contain sulfur compounds, and are the reason garlic and onions have such a distinctive odor and flavor. The stronger the garlic or onions, the better it is for reducing inflammation and calming cancer risk and heart disease. In cultures where these foods are eaten daily, rates of disease are much lower.
All beans and peas contain powerful plant chemicals that reduce disease risk. Eating only two servings of beans each week can reduce your risk of heart disease by over 50%! Legumes also contain a plant chemical that suppresses a tumor’s ability to build their own blood vessels – a natural way to keep cancers from growing and spreading. Try to get at least one serving a day of a legume in a dip, burrito, side dish, soup, or ethnic dish.
Oats are a natural grain that provide fiber to reduce the amount of cholesterol that our bodies would otherwise absorb, thereby making them a great choice for reducing the risk of heart disease. Oats are loaded with fiber and other plant chemicals and are an easy choice when on the run.
Any dark green, leafy vegetable such as spinach, kale, beet greens, mustard greens, or Swiss chard, is full of carotenoids and other plant chemicals that protect our eyes from loss of vision as we get older, suppress cancer growth, and provides all the cells of the body with plant chemical protection. It is easy to add these dark greens to soups, sides, casseroles, baked chips, and other dishes if you don’t like eating them on their own.
Tea is one of the most beneficial beverages on the planet. All teas provide some level of plant protection, black tea protects against heart disease, green and white tea protects against cancer, and herbal teas have an abundance of medicinal properties. Drink your tea steeped in boiling water for at least three minutes and enjoy several cups a day in order to maximize the benefits of tea drinking. Tea also has the additional benefit of being calorie free!
Dark chocolate, or cocoa, contains powerful antioxidants that protect us from heart disease and cancer. One way to lower your blood pressure or improve the elasticity of your blood vessels is to eat a small amount of good quality cocoa every day. It’s important to stick to chocolate or cocoa without much added sugar to get the maximum benefit of this super food. Bon appetite!