There may be no other period in our history that has been so focused on analyzing what we eat. And yet, the American population today is probably more overweight and less healthy than it has ever been. One way to alleviate these problems and return to a healthier way of life is to harness the power of superfoods.
Superfoods are generally foods in their natural, unprocessed state. Superfoods are full of powerful antioxidants, fiber, and nutrients that are good for the brain, digestive health, and various other anti-aging health benefits. Even if you are not following a weight loss diet plan, incorporating these superfoods into your diet is a quick, painless, and delicious way to start achieving your anti-aging nutrition and health goals.
Apples: Scientists from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) measured the antioxidant concentration in more than 100 foods, and ranked Red Delicious and Granny Smith apples as number 12 and 13 on that list. Antioxidants can help prevent and even repair oxidation damage that happens as a result of aging. Medium-sized apples also contain about 4 g of fiber. Plus, researchers at Cornell University identified one dozen compounds in the apple peel that either inhibit or kill liver, colon, and breast cancer cells.
Beans: When it comes to superfoods, beans are at the top of the list. In the same USDA antioxidant study, the number one food on their list was dried, small red beans. Dried red kidney beans were third, while pinto beans were fourth on the list. Low in fat, packed with protein, and full of fiber, these kinds of superfoods also have a low glycemic index, meaning they are digested slowly to help keep blood glucose levels stable.
Broccoli: Broccoli is part of the superfoods group because it’s a superstar vegetable. In 1992, Johns Hopkins University researchers discovered a compound in broccoli (glucoraphanin) that prevented the development of tumors in the studied group by up to 60%. It also reduced the size of existing tumors by 75%. Steaming broccoli, rather than boiling, preserves most of the nutrients. But like many other superfoods, broccoli is best when it’s eaten raw, because it retains all of its nutrients.
Cinnamon: Cinnamon may seem like just a spice but it’s an important member of the superfoods group. Extracts from cinnamon bark have long been used in traditional medicines around the world. Several laboratory studies have demonstrated cinnamon’s antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-tumor properties.
Pumpkin: Very high in fiber and low in calories, pumpkin is part of the superfoods group because it’s full of disease-fighting vitamins. Chief among them is carotenoids, the fat-soluble plant compounds that have been shown to decrease gastric, breast, lung, and colorectal cancers, as shown by a Japanese study. Pumpkin seeds are a nutritional powerhouse that helps treat symptoms of an enlarged prostate.
Green tea: Inexpensive, calorie-free, and readily available—it’s the perfect find when it comes to superfoods. Green tea is rich in antioxidants called catechins that have been shown to slow the growth of cancer cells. Other studies have shown promise in green tea’s ability to lower cholesterol, burn fat, and ward off dementia. No list of superfoods is complete without green tea.
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Huang, X.E., et al., “Comparison of Lifestyle Risk Factors by Family History for Gastric, Breast, Lung and Colorectal Cancer,” Asian Pacific Organization for Cancer Prevention 2004; 5: 419-427.