“Top 10” Best foods

Healthy foods provide us with all the necessary vitamins, minerals, fats, proteins, carbohydrates and antioxidants that are needed by our body to grow and function. A plate full of colorful vegetables and fruits make meal look and taste better. The deeper the color of a fruit or vegetable, the more vitamins and minerals they contain.

Below mentioned is the list of Top 10 best foods that everyone should include in their daily diet.

1.Kale: Kale is known to have the highest amount of antioxidant power and also contains cancer fighting phytochemicals like indoles, the plant compounds that have been found to have protective effect against breast cancer, cervical and colon cancer.  Kale has high sulfur content and is loaded with minerals like calcium and iron and vitamins A, C and K. The sulforaphane present in kale helps the detoxification enzymes of the body and may actually help fight cancer.   Kale contains seven times more beta-carotene then broccoli and 10 times more of the eye protecting carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, that are known to help protect against macular degeneration. There are no known toxicity issues with kale consumption.  Two cups of kale provide 4g of protein and 3 g of fiber.

2. Sweet Potatoes: First thing you should know is that these are the vegetables that have been around since the prehistoric times and these are not related to the potato. These are starchy carbohydrates that are high in fiber but are also sweet and dark, which explains their high content of powerful antioxidants in the carotenoid family. Sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamin A, Potassium, Calcium as well as phytochemicals like quercetin, which is an anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant chlorogenic acid. An article published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry mentioned that the extract from baked sweet potatoes contain cancer fighting properties. Buying organic and eating the skin is recommended as the skin has high fiber content. One more reason to include these in your diet in place of regular potatoes is that a medium sized sweet potato has only 103 calories.

WORD OF CAUSION: This is a sweet vegetable with higher glycemic index and is not recommended for people with blood sugar problems.

3.  Spinach: Spinach is one of those bright green leafy vegetables that is known to provide the most amount of nutrients. Spinach is an excellent source of vitamin K that is an important vitamin for building strong bones. It also contains good amount of vitamins A, B, C, D and minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium and manganese. Due to its calcium content it can be a good alternative for people with dairy intolerance. Spinach can also contribute in the prevention of colon cancer as the vitamin C and beta-carotene found in spinach are shown to help protect the colon cells from the damaging free radicals. Lutein, a carotenoid protective against eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and cataract, is found in spinach. In an animal study, researchers found that spinach may help protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of age-related declines in brain function. Spinach contains thirteen flavonoids that are known to function as antioxidants as well as anti cancer agents. It can be eaten raw or cooked. Spinach is found on the pesticide contamination list and for this reason it is suggested to buy organic spinach. Spinach is also known to prevent prostate cancer due to its content of compound called neoxanthin. Spinach can be combined with any vegetables mentioned in this list. One cup of boiled spinach has 294 percent of the Daily Value for vitamin A.

 

4.  Carrots: This vegetable, as a super food source of carotenoids, antioxidant compounds found in plants, has been found valuable in preventing many types of cancers including lung cancer. The high carotenoid intake has been associated with up to 50 percent decrease in cervical, bladder, colon, prostate, larynx and esophageal cancer and up to 20 percent decrease in postmenopausal breast cancer. Carrot contains about 4 grams of carbohydrate and so has a low glycemic load and does not spike up blood sugar levels. Even so, the diabetics should double check with their physicians and should beware of consuming carrots. The lutein and zeaxanthin content along with two other carotenoids have shown to protect eye disease and prevent macular degeneration and cataracts. Carrots are a good source of both alpha and beta carotenoids, which convert to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A along with being a good antioxidant is known to stimulate the immune system as well as help the formation of rhodospin, a purple colored pigment in the eye. Some of the nutrients present in carrots become more bioavailable upon cooking slightly. To get the full carotenoids benefits, it is recommended to eat carrots with a little fat as they are fat soluble and thus are better absorbed that way. Three medium carrots contain 60 mg of calcium, 586 mg of potassium, some vitamin C, magnesium and phosphorus, and 30,000 IUs of vitamin A (15,000 units of beta carotene and 6,000 units of alpha carotene) plus 5 grams of fiber. Carrots can be combined with any of the vegetables in this list .

 

5. Broccoli: Broccoli belongs to the family of cruciferous vegetables. It is known to be an excellent source of anticancer phytochemicals known as isothiocyanates. Research studies have shown that isothiocyanates help prevent lung and esophageal cancer and lower the risk of other cancers including gastrointestinal cancer. Broccoli is also a rich source of indoles, which, along with being strong antioxidants and stimulator of detoxifying enzymes, are found to reduce the risk of breast and cervical cancer. Broccoli also contains high levels of phytochemical sulforaphane which helps fight carcinogens by increasing the activation of enzymes known as phase- 2 enzymes. Broccoli is known to be one of the least pesticide-contaminated foods. One cup of broccoli has 2 grams protein, 2 grams fiber, 43 mg calcium, 288 mg potassium, 81 mg vitamin C, 1,277 mcg of lutein and zeaxanthin plus folate, magnesium. Phosphorous, beta-carotene and vitamin A. Broccoli can be enjoyed steamed by itself or mixed with carrots and other vegetables on this list. It goes well as a side dish with Salmon.

 

 

6. Blueberries: Blueberries contain all those antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds which are known to help fight against cardiovascular diseases. Research shows that blueberries have the highest ORAC value of all foods in the world. ORAC stands for oxygen radical absorbance capacity and is a rating system for antioxidant power, thus blueberries are rich in antioxidant content. Anthocyanin, an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory compound present in blueberries helps prevent the inflammation and oxidative stress associated with major killer diseases. Consuming blueberries has shown to slow down impairment in motor coordination and memory, which is due to the presence of a special compound known as polyphenols. Blueberries contain another compound called pterostilbene, which lowers lipids. Blueberries contain a flavonoid that inhabits a cancer-promoting enzyme thus making blueberry a cancer fighter. These can be eaten fresh or frozen, mixed in salads or any other foods. No toxicity issue has been reported for this fruit .

7.  Oatmeal: Oatmeal is known to be one of the healthiest carbohydrates. It is a great source of both soluble and insoluble fiber but the soluble fiber, beta-glucan, is the one that is known to help lower the cholesterol level and reduce risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. This beta-glucan is also found to be helpful in stabilizing blood sugar thus making oatmeal safe for people with type 2 diabetes. Oatmeal contains highest amount of protein among the cereals. 8½ grams of protein in 2/3 a cup of oats. It contains about 5 g of fiber and also contains phosphorous, potassium, selenium, manganese and few mg of iron. Oatmeal can be eaten raw or cooked with milk or water and can be mixed in with fruit salads or topped with bluberries.  It is advisable to choose the less processed variety, such as Steel-cut oats or old fashioned rolled oats, to get full health benefits .

WORD OF CAUTION: People with gluten intolerance and Celiac disease as well as     people with uric acid related problems should be cautious in their consumption of oats due to its beta-glucan and purine content .

8. Walnuts: Walnuts contain the highest amount of Omega- 3 fatty acids among all the nuts. Omega- 3 fats help reduce plaque formation in the arteries, lower triglycerides and also support brain function. Several studies have shown that school kids that are given omega- 3s demonstrate better attention, reduction in behavioral problems and less “ADD” like behaviors.  They are rich in minerals. They contain protein, fiber, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium. It consists of half the daily value of manganese, which is an important trace mineral essential for growth, reproduction, wound healing, proper metabolism of sugars, insulin and cholesterol. These can be enjoyed alone or with the foods mentioned in this list. It is advisable  not to add them to any high calorie diet especially if you are planning to loose weight .

 

9. Wild Salmon: Wild salmon is another great omega- 3 containing food. Omega3 fats are known to help improve heart health, brain health, circulation, inflammation, memory, and blood sugar control. Salmon contains high quality protein. A 3-ounce serving of wild salmon gives 18 grams of first grade protein, 360 mg potassium and half the daily value of the cancer fighting trace mineral selenium. It also contains Vitamin B12 and niacin. It is important to choose wild variety as the farm raised salmon lack in these health-promoting omega 3s and have higher amount of inflammation causing omega 6s, they are antibiotics treated .An independent lab test done by the Environmental working group shows that seven out the ten farmed salmon purchased were contaminated with PCB’S (Polychlorinated biphenyls). Salmon may contain some mercury but it is the least contaminated species and its health benefits outweigh the concern for mercury contamination. Salmon can be served with cooked beans, carrots, broccoli and other foods listed .

10. Beans- Mung beans: All beans contain good amount of fiber and carbohydrate. The green mung beans are known to be the easiest to digest. They have high protein content. These green mung beans are regularly consumed in India. They are known to reduce high blood pressure. Beans also lower cholesterol. The soluble fiber content of the beans influences the glucose absorption rate. Beans are low glycemic food thus are safe for the diabetics. Research has shown that higher consumption of common beans is linked with reduced frequency of breast cancer in women. Beans also contain certain compounds that have shown some anticancer properties. These beans can be pressure cooked and eaten with any of the foods mentioned in this list(pp 83-84; Tierra, 1998, p63).

** The above information is for educational purposes only. Consult your doctor for specific medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. **

 

References

 

1. Bowden, J, Ph.D., C.N.S, (2007). The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth,

Beverly,M.A.: Fair Winds Press.

2. Tierra, M. (1998). The way of herbs. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc.

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