| Tuesday, September 05, 2006
| THE FIFTEEN HEALTHIEST FOODS
|Forgo french fries. Ban biscuits. Stay away from sundaes. When you're trying to eat a healthy diet, the list of nutritional no-no's seems never-ending.
But there is an antidote to all the dietary shouldnots: Instead of thinking about all the things you should avoid, focus on all of the wonderful foods you can eat.
These delicious foods provide your body with the nutrients it needs, and may help reduce your risk of disease.
Remember, though, that what matters most is having an overall healthy diet. "There is no one magic food that can make a person healty if the rest of her diet is unbalanced," says Stacey Nelson, M.S., R.D., L.D.N., a senior clinical nutritionist at Massachusettes General Hospital in Boston. "Variety and moderation are key".
Hungry? Sink into one of these superstar foods.
It's known as a "fatty" fish, but don't let that scare you: The omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon are so food for your heart that people with coronary heart disease are encouraged to eat them in some form everyday. Omega 3s reduce inflammation, and besides being heart-healthy, "omega-3s from fish and fish-oil supplements can drduce joint inflammation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis," says Nelson. Aim for one servind a day of omega 3-rich foods (or 1gram of fish oil) if you have heart disease, or two servings a week to maintain heat health.
Anyone with elevated blood sugat should have this for breakfast regularly. Oat products are a fantastic source of soluble fiber, which helps control blood sugar and insulin levels. After eating oatmeal, "you stomach empties more slowly, and that slows the rise of blood sugar," says Karen Chalmers, MS,RD, a certified diabetes educator at Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. Oatmeal also benefits your heart, because its soluble fiber binds with and helps remove excess cholesterol that can clog arteries.
When the USDA ranked 24 antioxidant-containing fruits and vegetables, blueberries topped the list. (Antioxidants inhibit the cell damage associated with cancer, heart disease and other chronic illnesses). Blueberries have been shown to help protect against urinary tract infections, cancer, macular degeneration ( a major cause of blindness in older people), heart disease and brain damage from strokes. "There is also some research to suggest that they may protect against brain deterioration associated with aging", says Tara Gidus, MS, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association (ADA). Frozen berries are as nutritious as fresh, so keep a bag in your freezer and toss a handful into cereal or a smoothie.
Tehy're second only to blueberries in antioxidant capacity and cancer fighting ability. "Some of the phytonutrients in strawberries can discourage the development and growth of cancer cells and perhaps help in their self-destruction," say Susan Moores, RD, a spokeswoamn for the ADA. What's more, a cup of strawberries contain more vitamin C than oranges, according to the FDA. Vitamin C may help lower the risk of heart disease by reducing plaque formation and possobly helping prevent harmful blood clots, Moore says.
Foods made from soybeans - tofu, soy milk, tempeh,miso, soy brugers and so on - contain cancer-fighting compounds such as isoflavones. "Isoflavones possess antifungal, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties", says Gidus. Soy food may also help reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, maintain bone density (if they're calcium fortified), and help reduce hot flashes and night sweats in postmenopausal women. Becasue soy mimics the action of estrogen, however, women who have had breast cancer should talk to their doctors about whether to include it in their diets.
They're high in fat and calories, but nuts are also tremendously nutritious."Nuts contains various antioxidants and phytonutrients that may help protect cells from damage," says Moores. Packed with fiber, magnesium, Vitamin E, potassium and zinc, nuts are also associated with a lowered risk of cancer and heart disease. Because they're rich in fiber and monounsaturated fat, they help control blood sugar and may help protect against type 2 diabetes. They may even be good for taking off extra pounds. "Nuts help satisfy the appetite", Moore says. One caveat: Consume nuts in moderation if you're trying to cut calories -- one peanut has about 4.3 calories, and as any nut lover knows, once you get started, it can be hard to stop.
"We need to up our legume intake, and pinto beans are a great way to go", say Andrea Giancoli, MPH, RD, a spokeswoman for the ADA. They're high in protein (7grams in a half cup serving of canned beans) and fiber (also 7 gams), and are also a good source of folic acid, which may help your heart. They're also rich in potassium, whih helps keep blood pressure in check and maintains normal function of the heart and nervous system, according to the American Heart Association. For a quick, nutritious dip or spread, mash pinto beans with olive oil, gralic and minced fresh resemary.
"This vegetable is a member of the brassica family, which has compounds that may help prevent cancer," says Cynthia Finley, RD,LD, clinical dietitian specialtist at the John Hopkins Weight Management Center. "Studies show a relationship between a high intake of cruciferous vegetables and a decreased risk of certain cancers." Cauliflower is also a rich source of vitamin C, folic acid and fiber, as well as B vitamins, potassium, manganese and nagnesium. If you're not crazy about its taste, choose other cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, Brussles sprouts, bok choy, radishes and kale.
They are a fantastic source of lycopene, and antioxidant that seems to protect against heart disease, degenrative diseases such as osteoporosis and Alzheimer's disease, and cancer. "Lycopene may help ward off colorectal, prostate, brast, endometrial, lung and pancreatic cncaers," says Finley. Tomatoes also contain folic acid; riboflavin, which has been shown to decrease the frequency of migraine headaches; and chromium, whcih promotes normal blood sugar in people with diabetes. And processed tomatoes maybe more beneficial that their whole-food counterpart. Lycopene can be better absorbed by the body when it's in a processed form such as Ketchup, tomato sauce, tomato paste or tomato juice, according to the American Institutue for Cancer Research.
The sulfur components that give garlic its intense taste can also help your heart. "Compounds in garlic may help reduce total and LDL cholesterol levels", says Kimberly Johnson, RD, instructor of nutrition and hospitality management at Syracuse University. Garlic may also lower blood pressure, inhibit dnagerous clotting and fight cancer.
This dark, leafy green offers a nutritional bonanza. "Spinach contains fifer, potassium, vitamin A and folic acid", Johnson says. It is also rich in lutien, a compound that my reduce the risk for macular degeneration. If you don't care for spinach's sometimes-bitter taste, Johnson recommends wilting it briefly in olive oil with a little garlic over medium high heat, and finishing with a squirt of lemon jouice. Or try baby spinach, which has a sweeter taste.
They're rich in flavonoids, antioxidants that fight inflammations, heart disease and cancer. Flavonoids are most highly concentrated in the skin of red, purple and black grapes. Purple grape juice and red wine made with grapes are rich sources of flavonoids, but they're highger in calories than grapes. If you opt for juice, limit yourself to 8 ouces a day; for wine, stick to one 5 ounce glass a day. "The bonus of whole grapes is that you're also getting some fiber, and their water content makes them a satisfying snack," Giancoli says.
They're packed with beta-carotene, and antioxidant that stimulates the immune system. The body also converts beta-carotene to vitamin A, whcih is crucial to eye and skin health, Ginacoli says. Forget marshmallows - microwave or bake a sweet potato, remove the skin and mash it with a sprinkel of orange juice and cinnamon, or some chopped fresh ginger and a dribble of maple syrup.
This grain is an excellent option for people who want to add omega-3 fatty acides to their diet but don't like seafood or are concerned about mercury levels. "flax is a very rich source of alpha-linolenic acid," sayd Nelson. Flax also contains lignans, which are isoflavones that may protect against cancer. You can buy flax as whole seeds, ground seeds or flax seeds flour, but whole seeds must be ground or your body won't benefit form the omega-3s. Just 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed a day provides the recommended intake of alpha-linolenic acid as well as 2 to 3 grams of fiber. Use flax flour in recipes, add gound flaxsee to smoothies, or enjoy their nutty crunch in breakfast cereal, yogurt or salad.
They're not just for decoration on a burger bun. Tses tasty seeds are a highly concentrated source of copper, magnesium, zinc, fiber and protein, as well as substances that have been shown to have cholesterol lowering effects. Try to incorporate a tablespoon into your diet every day. "They're pretty versatile and can be used in many dishes, from stir-fries a=to breads and muffins, or sprinkled on veggies and salads", Gidus says. For delicious flavor, toast them in the toaster over or in a frying pan a few minutes before using.
(FOR MORE INFO go to womansday.com/nutrition)
|posted by infraternam meam @ 1:01 AM