Wednesday, August 10, 2005

10 Amazing Disease-Fighting Foods

Do your body a favor with these incredible edibles

By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic

They are a dietitian's dream foods, the cream of the crop, nutritious and
delicious. They are foods that should be in everyone's kitchen because they
contain such a wealth of disease-fighting substances.
So put these 10 readily available foods on your grocery list today -- but do
keep in mind that it takes more than 10 foods (even 10 terrific foods!) to
make a healthy diet. Experts are quick to point out that variety is the spice of
life. And ideally, these nutritious nibbles should replace other, less
healthful, foods, helping you to cut calories while boosting the nutrition in your

"Super-foods are terrific, but what are more important to wellness are
healthy dietary patterns that include a wide variety of nutritious foods that
displace less nutritious foods," notes Alice Lichtenstein, DSc, professor of
nutrition science and policy at Tufts University.

Top 10 Amazing Foods

1. Berries

Reach for berries for a powerful dose of health-protecting antioxidants.
According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture study, blueberries top the list of
antioxidant-rich fruits, followed by cranberries, blackberries, raspberries,
and strawberries. The color of berries comes from the pigment anthocyanin, an
antioxidant that helps neutralize "free radicals" (cell-damaging molecules) that
can help lead to chronic diseases, including cancer and heart disease.
Berries, particularly cranberries, may also help ward off urinary tract infections.
Enjoy a cup of berries each day, as a snack; atop your cereal or yogurt; in
muffins, salads, or smoothies; or as frozen treats.

2. Dairy

Dairy foods are not only the best food source of dietary calcium, but also
have plenty of protein, vitamins (including vitamin D), and minerals. The U.S.
government's 2005 Dietary Guidelines recommend having three daily servings of
low-fat dairy products, as well as doing weight-bearing exercise, to help keep
bones strong and prevent osteoporosis. (If you can't tolerate dairy, other
calcium-containing foods include legumes; dark green leafy vegetables such as
kale, broccoli, and collards; and calcium-fortified soy products, juices, and

Beyond strong bones, dairy may also help you lose weight. Research is
ongoing, but a few studies have shown that three daily servings of dairy -- as part
of a calorie-controlled diet -- may help decrease belly fat and enhance weight

Low-fat dairy foods make excellent snacks because they contain both
carbohydrates and protein.
"Dairy foods are perfect snacks for diabetics and everyone else because [they
help] maintain blood sugar levels," says Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA, RD, a
spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.
Whip up a smoothie with low-fat milk or yogurt, a splash of orange juice, and
a handful of berries for an energizing meal substitute or anytime snack.

3. Fatty Fish

The fat found in fish like salmon and tuna is rich in omega-3 fatty acids,
which can help protect your heart. The power of omega-3s appears to be their
ability to lower blood fats and prevent blood clots associated with heart disease.
The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of
fish (especially fatty fish) at least twice a week. "Eating a diet rich in fatty
fish can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease," says Lichtenstein.
There's another benefit to eating meals containing salmon or tuna: you'll
reduce your potential intake of saturated fat from higher-fat entrees.
Fire up the grill or put your fish under the broiler for a quick, tasty, and
heart-healthy meal.

4. Dark, Leafy Greens

Dark, leafy greens -- everything from spinach, kale, and bok choy to dark
lettuces -- are loaded with vitamins, minerals, beta-carotene, vitamin C, folate,
iron, magnesium, carotenoids, phytochemicals, and antioxidants. A Harvard
study found that eating magnesium-rich foods such as spinach can reduce the risk
of developing type 2 diabetes.
Make your next salad with assorted greens, including super-nutritious spinach
or other dark-colored greens.

5. Whole Grains

Grandma urged us to start the day with a bowl of oatmeal, but did she have
any idea that the soluble fiber from oats helps to lower blood cholesterol

Whole grains include the nutritional components that are typically stripped
away from refined grains. They contain folic acid, selenium, and B vitamins,
and are important to heart health, weight control, and reducing the risk of
diabetes. Their fiber content helps keeps you feeling full between meals as well
and promotes digestive health.
Enjoy at least three servings a day of whole-grain goodness: whole wheat;
barley; rye; millet; quinoa; brown rice; wild rice; and whole-grain pasta,
breads, and cereals. The daily recommendation for fiber is 21-38 grams, depending on
your sex and age, according to the American Dietetic Association.

6. Beans and Legumes

These nutritious nuggets are packed with phytochemicals; fat-free,
high-quality protein; folic acid; fiber; iron; magnesium; and small amounts of calcium.
Beans are an excellent and inexpensive protein source and a great alternative
for low-calorie vegetarian meals.
Eating beans and legumes regularly as part of a healthy eating plan can help
reduce the risk of certain cancers; lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride
levels; and stabilize blood sugar. Beans also play an important role in weight
management by filling you up with lots of bulk and few calories.
Think beans when making salads, soups, stews, or dips.

7. Nuts

Nuts are full of fats. But they're the healthy, mono- and polyunsaturated
kind, which can help lower cholesterol levels and help prevent heart disease. In
addition, nuts are a good source of protein, fiber, selenium, vitamin E, and
vitamin A.
Small portions of nuts can boost energy and beat hunger, helping dieters stay
on track. Still, nuts pack plenty of calories -- and it's easy to overeat
these tasty treats.
So enjoy nuts, but be mindful of your portion size. Try to limit yourself to
an ounce a day. That's about 28 peanuts, 14 walnut halves, or just 7 Brazil

8. Sweet Potatoes

One of the easiest ways to make a healthful dietary change is to think
"sweet" instead of "white" potatoes. These luscious orange tubers are one of the
healthiest vegetables, boasting a wealth of antioxidants; phytochemicals
including beta-carotene; vitamins C and E; folate; calcium; copper; iron; and
potassium. The fiber in sweet potatoes promotes a healthy digestive tract, and the
antioxidants play a role in preventing heart disease and cancer.
Its natural sweetness means a roasted sweet potato is delicious without any
additional fats or flavor enhancers. Substitute sweet potatoes in recipes
calling for white potatoes or apples to boost the nutrients.

9. Tomatoes

These red-hot fruits of summer are bursting with flavor and pack a
nutritional wallop with ingredients such as lycopene, an antioxidant that may help may
protect against certain cancers. They also deliver an abundance of vitamins A
and C, potassium, and phytochemicals.
Enjoy tomatoes raw, cooked, sliced, chopped, or diced as part of any meal or
snack. Stuff a tomato half with spinach and top with grated cheese for a
fabulous and colorful side dish.

10. Eggs

Their cholesterol content once led to bad press for the mighty egg, but
research has redeemed it. It turns out that saturated fat (eggs have little) plays
a bigger role than the cholesterol in food in elevating our blood cholesterol.
Eggs are packed with economical, high-quality protein, and are an excellent
source of the carotenoids lutein, choline, and xeanthin. In fact, eggs are one
of the best sources of dietary choline, an essential nutrient -- especially
for pregnant women. Eggs have been shown to supply nutrients that promote eye
health and help prevent age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of
blindness in older people.
The American Heart Association has given eggs the thumbs-up for healthy
people. As long as you limit your average daily cholesterol intake to 300 mg, you
can enjoy an egg a day.
Eggs are adaptable to every meal. Enjoy eggs for a quick meal, or pack a
hard-boiled egg for a tasty, high protein snack.

The Big Picture

For top disease-fighting power, eat all of these amazing edibles together
with other healthful foods that didn't make my top 10 list, including green tea,
chocolate, alcohol (in limited quantities), olive oil, and soy.
Beyond the choices I listed here, fruits and vegetables in general are
powerhouses of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. By eating five or more
servings a day, you help protect your body from heart disease, cancer, and
other diseases.

The real key to preventing disease and promoting health is not certain foods,
but a lifestyle of regular physical activity and healthy eating, experts say.
Overall, an eating plan low in saturated fat and rich in whole grains,
fruits, vegetables, and legumes is your best bet for a healthy heart, according to a
Stanford University study reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

And "there is very little evidence that individual foods with super-nutrient
profiles can reduce the risk of cancer," according to Coleen Doyle, MS, RD,
the American Cancer Society's nutrition and physical activity director. "But
healthy dietary patterns, including these foods, along with a healthy lifestyle,
[are] critical to reducing risk for cancer."

Remember that portion size does matter, even when it comes to healthful
foods. If you gain weight eating super-portions of super-nutritious foods, you'll
negate the health benefits because of the health risks associated with being
overweight, Lichtenstein says.

Also keep in mind that taking a vitamin, mineral, or herbal supplement is no
replacement for eating a variety of healthy food. "There is limited evidence
that supplements, beyond filling nutritional gaps, make a difference," says

Make no mistake about it; eating healthfully -- at least most of the time --
is your best defense against chronic diseases. And the best part? Good
nutrition really does taste great.

SOURCES: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, June 9, 2004. Diabetes
Care, January 2004. Annals of Internal Medicine, May 2, 2005. American Heart
Association Dietary Guidelines. Alice Lichtenstein, DSc, Stanley N. Gershoff
Professor of Nutrition Science and Policy, Friedman School of Nutrition Science,
Tufts University. Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA, RD, spokeswoman, American Dietetic
Association. Colleen Doyle, MS, RD, nutrition and physical activity director,
American Cancer Society.

1 comment:

David Skul said...

Your readers might be interested in this article I recently wrote.

Nutrition Guidelines are just a Guide

The USDA recently published their dietary guidelines for Americans and the recommendation leave a bit to be desired. As Americans our health continues to slip. We have the largest and most expensive insurance and health care system in the world. The following recommendation made by the USDA is just recommendations. As we all know advice is only as good as who receives it. Our children seem to be the ones with the most to lose but the USDA has little to say regarding their eating habits. This report highlights the following recommendations for children.

Infants should not eat or drink raw milk or any products made from unpasteurized milk, raw or partially cooked eggs or foods containing raw eggs, raw or undercooked meat and poultry, raw or undercooked fish or shellfish, unpasteurized juices and raw sprouts.

Young children should keep total fat intake between 30 to 35 percent of calories for children 2 to 3 years of age, with most fats coming from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, and vegetable oils. Consume whole-grain products often. At least half the grains should be whole grains. Children 2 to 8 years should consume 2 cups per day of fat-free or low-fat milk or equivalent milk products. Young children should not eat or drink raw milk or any products made from unpasteurized milk, raw or partially cooked eggs or foods containing raw eggs, raw or undercooked meat and poultry, raw or undercooked fish or shellfish, unpasteurized juices and raw sprouts.

Children should engage in at least 60 minutes of physical activity on most, preferably all, days of the week. The USDA also recommends that kids consume whole-grain products often. At least half the grains should be whole grains. Children up to 8 years should consume 2 cups per day of fat-free or low-fat milk or equivalent milk products. Children 9 years of age and older should consume 3 cups per day of fat-free or low-fat milk or equivalent milk products. Parents should help children to keep their total fat intake between 25 to 35 percent of calories for children 4 years of age to adolescence, with most fats coming from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.
This sounds great, but what can we do as a country when our food supply seems filled with everything that the recommendations advise us against eating? Should the general consumer be expected to pay extra to get the food that we as a country need or should growers, butchers, and producers are required to provide the foods at a lower costs. It seems that doing the right thing in this country is very expensive. No wonder we have obesity and other problems looming over our heads every day. If you are interested in reading more about how to eat well and within you r budget then you can get access to the World's #1 Resource for Raw and Living Food Nutrition! By looking on the internet or visiting your local health food store.

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