Top 10 Amazing Foods by Bruce Brightman - LifeSource Vitamins
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.
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 grains.)
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 loss.
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
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
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< /strong>
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 levels? 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
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.
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
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
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.
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,
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
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.
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.
Bruce Brightman – founder
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