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Superfood Secrets to A Super Healthy You

What can you do to ward off heart disease, cancer, hypertension and high cholesterol? Research shows these ‘superfoods’ can do wonders to protect you from these debilitating diseases.

What if you have some ‘magic pills’ to keep you in the pink of health without the side-effects of drugs? And what if they cost much less than most drugs? You’re in for a surprise. The ‘superfoods’ listed below are just that. They pack a punch when made part of your diet, and what’s more, they are easily available at your local supermarket. According to Elizabeth Somer, author of Nutrition for a Healthy Pregnancy, Food; Mood, and The Essential Guide to Vitamins and Minerals, “50% to 70% of suffering could be eliminated by what people eat and how they move: heart disease, diabetes, cancer, hypertension can all be impacted.” You don’t need specific foods for specific ailments however. A healthy diet incorporating a variety of the following superfoods will help you maintain your weight, fight disease, and live longer. Don’t just take our words for it. Enjoy them and see the difference.

Blueberries

With zero fat and hardly any calories, this tiny fruit can help invigorate your immune system. Packed with antioxidants, phytoflavinoids, and resveratrol, which is known to contribute to heart health, these berries are also high in potassium and vitamin C. They can lower your risk of heart disease and cancer, anti-inflammatory and help prevent the kind of strokes that result from leaky blood vessels in the brain. Eating blueberry regularly helps prevent age-related memory loss and improve cognitive function in the elderly.

When selecting berries, note that the darker they are, the more anti-oxidants they have, and frozen blueberries are just as good as fresh. “Have a serving (about 1/2 cup) every day,” says, Dr. Ann Kulze, MD, of Charleston, South Carolina, author of Dr. Ann’s 10-Step Diet, A Simple Plan for Permanent Weight Loss and Lifelong Vitality.” But don’t limit yourself. If blueberries are not available, other berries that give you the most antioxidant bang per bite include cranberries, black current,blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and pomegranates.

Salmon

Salmon is one of the healthiest fish in the world. It is rich in Omega 3 acids and also high in protein. It is healthy for the nervous systems as well as many other health benefits. “We know that the omega 3s you get in fish lower heart disease risk, help arthritis, and may possibly help with memory loss and Alzheimer’s,” Somer says. “There is some evidence to show that it reduces depression as well.” Omega-3s are most prevalent in fatty, cold-water fish: Look for wild (not farmed) salmon, herring, sardines, and mackerel.

Aim for two-to-three servings a week. Other forms of omega 3s are available in fortified eggs, flax seed, and walnuts. These superfoods have the added benefit of being high in monounsaturated fats, which can lower cholesterol. Other omega-3 fatty acids and protein rich seafood include tuna and mackerel.

Nuts

Nuts of all kind are high in fat but this is good, unsaturated fat. Nuts, be they almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, and cashews are also high in protein and a small serving is enough to fill you up. Nuts are high in monounsaturated fats, the same type of health-promoting fats as are found in olive oil, which have been associated with reduced risk of heart disease. Nuts and seeds have also been shown to reduce risk of diabetes, and certain forms of cancer.

Nuts like almonds are high in magnesium and potassium. Magnesium helps relax your veins and arteries improving flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body while potassium is essential for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function. Most nuts are high in the amino acid arginine which helps to keep blood flow to your sexual areas. Arginine is used as a natural erectile treatment. Walnuts, pecans, and chestnuts have highest antioxidant contents as well.

Tomato

Tomatoes are chock–full of micronutrients, vitamins and a powerful antioxidant called lycopene. Studies have found that lycopene may help reduce some risk of cancer, especially prostate, lung and breast cancer. They are packed with antioxidant flavonoids and vitamin E, both of which are essential for heart health, and are a good source of potassium. Research shows that the absorption of lycopene is greatest when tomatoes are cooked with olive oil. Other lycopene laden fruits include watermelon, grapefruit and red navel oranges. Tomatoes also contain high levels of beta-carotene, an antioxidant that supports the immune system and helps maintain healthy skin and tissue lining.

One medium-size tomato provides 50% of the recommended daily dose of vitamin C. Tomatoes contain no saturated fatty acids, are low in salt, starch and sugars, high in dietary fibre and have a low glycaemic index.

Dark Chocolate

New research has shown that dark chocolate is packed with antioxidants and can lower blood pressure. Dr. Kulze recommends that you look for chocolate with 60% or higher cocoa content; the darker, the better. In addition, the darker it is, the lower the fat and sugar content. Research shows that dark chocolate can improve heart health, lower blood pressure, reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, decrease the risk of blood clots, and increase blood flow to the brain.

Dark chocolate boosts serotonin and endorphin levels, which are associated with improved mood and greater concentration; it is rich in B vitamins and magnesium, which are noted cognitive boosters; it contains small amounts of caffeine, which helps with short-term concentration; and theobromine, a stimulant. Dark chocolate is also highly valued as an aphrodisiac for centuries.

Tea

Tea, especially green tea, is a super food. It is rich in antioxidants, called catechins, which slows aging process. Green tea contains only moderate levels of caffeine, and keeps you mentally sharp. It has also shown to protect against various heart diseases and other ailments like osteoporosis.

A recent Japanese study on green tea found that men who drank green tea regularly had lower cholesterol than those who didn’t. Researchers in Spain and the United Kingdom have also shown that ECGC, a powerful antioxidant found in green tea can inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Instead of sugar, try drinking tea with honey instead.

Avocado

Yes, avocados are high in fat, but like nuts, it is good fat. Avocados contain oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that may help to lower cholesterol — and does so without lowering your HDL. High in fiber, potassium, Vitamins C and B6, avocados reduce heart related risks and are said to improve blood flow, which increases brain activity. It can be served as part of a salad, in a sandwich, or even as a snack.

Avocados don’t cause wild swings in insulin levels. So just enjoy the fat in avocados. Research shows that diets containing upward of 50% fat are just as effective for weight loss as those that are low in fat. Avocados are also great hunger satisfiers.

Low Fat Yogurt

Yogurt is a great source of potassium, protein and calcium which strengthens the bones. The probiotic bacteria in most yogurts help keep your digestive system healthy, which translates into a lower incidence of gas, bloating, and constipation. Choose unsweetened yogurt that contains live active cultures.

If you don’t like it plain, add nuts, berries, cinnamon or berries to create a healthy, tasty, and nutritious content. Make sure to eat low fat yogurt without any flavouring or artificial additives.

Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil is mostly monounsaturated fat. Unlike polyunsaturated vegetable oils, which tend to produce inflammation and are downright dangerous to cook with, olive oil is more stable. Olive oil is the perfect dressing for any salad. It is high in good fats, vitamin E, and antioxidants. It is also good for your cholesterol.

Having extra virgin olive oil is a health-enhancing way to increase fat in your diet, and one that can make foods taste better. Combine virgin olive oil with coconut oil, giving it added flavour and greater protection at higher heat.

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