Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Easy to find superfoods

Last night I took a nutrition class taught by a dietician from one of the hospitals in our city. My past experience with hospital and doctor's office dieticians has not been less than impressive but I was pleasantly surprised at this lady. I like her which is good because we have 3 more classes. These classes are focused on foods that are good to eat during, as a a preventative measure or in addition to aid recovery from illness. Last night's topic was Superfoods. She wanted to talk about foods that are readily available & common so you will notice some things missing. My notes aren't complete but this will get you started.

Some common superfoods are walnuts, oats, yogurt, salmon, berries, broccoli, garlic & onions, tomatoes, spinach, pumpkin, soy, legumes & beans, tea( specifically green tea)

Green tea is antifugal, antibacterial and a good source of chlorophyll & polyphenols. Chlorophyll binds to carcinogens and absorbs them so the body can excrete them. Green tea is lower in caffeine than black tea and boiling water should not be used to brew green tea. Hot water is sufficient. Boiling water can destroy some of the beneficial nutrients. If you have low iron or hemoglobin counts green tea is not a good thing to drink because the tanins inhibit iron absorption. At least drink it away from eating a meal of iron rich foods if you just must have it. Fresh lemon juice will help us to absorb the phytochemicals(antioxidants) in our foods. So add it to your tea or salads, whatever. Pucker up and enjoy the benefits. Spinach is high in COQ10, carotenoids, calcium, iron, B vitamins, zinc, magnesium, chlorophyll & plant derived omega 3. Spinach has been shown to reduce cancers of the colon, lung, stomach, skin, breast, prostate & ovaries as well as heart disease mostly due to the COQ10 and cataracts due to the lutein. One serving of spinach or other dark leafy greens per day is optimal. This can be achieved by eating them as a salad, including them as part of a sandwich, topping off a tomato soup or omelet, sauteed as a side dish with olive oil and garlic or as we do in my house juiced with apple. Beans raise iron levels in the blood and contain folate. They have phytochemicals(black beans especially) that support angiogenesis which means they help cut off the blood supply to tumors. They are a great source of soluble fiber which helps sweep away the bad cholesterol and provide lasting energy. Beans are a great plant based protein source. When preparing from dry beans like red kidney, pinto, navy, black, & garbonzo need to soak over night or at least 8 hours in order to bring out the enzymes and make them easier for us to digest. This also cuts down on cooking time. At least 4 1/2 cup servings per week in optimal. Pumpkin is high in vitamin A which helps keep inflamation down and benefits the mucus membranes of the body. It is no coincidense that it is a fall /winter vegetable then as these properties aid in the prevention of upper resperitory illnesses which flourish in the fall & winter. Sweet potatoes, winter squashes, carrots, orange bell peppers are sidekicks to pumpkin. Canned pumpkin is more nutritious than fresh pumpkin. On a side note from my own knowlegde canned real pumpkin, not pumpkin pie pumpkin is good for your pets to relieve constipation. After all our GI tracts are big mucus membranes. My cats love it. Frozen choices can be more convient and are just as nutritious. Berries are high in phytochemicals. Blueberries in particular support angiogenesis and help prevent degenerative diseases. One or two cups per day is optimal. They can be added to salads, smoothies, oatmeal,etc. Frozen is a good choice because when fruits and veggies are flash frozen they have lost less nutrient content from the time they were picked. There is also nutrient loss each day from the day they were harvested. Flash freezing prevents that loss so if you are not going to eat a fruit or veggie soon from the time you purchase it then frozen is a good option. Of course this is also a great reason to buy local. Broccoli contains calcium, folic acid and B vitamins. It is a cruciferous vegetable. This family of veggies neutralizes toxins making them water soluble so we can eliminate them. Cruciferous veggies especially in raw form contain goitrogens. Goitrogens are a thyroid inhibitor that halts to production of certain hormones so if you have a thyroid condition it is best to limit if not avoid this family of veggies. Talk yo your doctor or dietician. Research estimates that broccoli sprouts provide 10 to 100 times the power of mature broccoli at neutralizing carcinogens. Broccoli sprouts can be found in the produce isle but are very easy to grow at home on your windowsill. Sprouting seeds are available at health food stores and at some garden centers along with sprouting kits. In 5 to 7 days you can have grown your own sprouts for a fraction of the cost of store bought sprouts. Garlic is also called the Italian flu shot. It is antibacterial & antiviral. 1/2 or 1 clove daily can lower LDL cholesterol by 10%. The best way to use it is to macerate or smash it and allow 5 minutes before eating in order to allow the active compounds to be released. The same goes for onions. Yellow & red onions have more nutrient content. Tomatoes neutralize free radicals and oxidize LDL. Concentrated lycopene is more beneficial which is why tomato sauces are better than fresh. Tomatoes from a jar are much better than from a can. When Lycopene is concentrated it is more bioavailable. It helps protect against prostate cancer. Soy is high in all of the essential amino acids but it can also be a highly processed food. The processed forms should be avoided. These are soy protein isolates, soybean oil in excess and TVP or textured vegetable protein. Try soy in its' traditional forms like tofu, tempeh, edamame, miso or tamari soy sauce. also watch that your soy products are labeled NON GMO. Soy is one of the biggest gmo crops grown. Substitute tempeh or tofu for meat at least once per week. Snack on edamame. Soy has some adverse side effects in those with cancer. We did not touch on this but it is widely known so if you have cancer do some homework on eating soy before you do. Walnuts contains vitamin E which protect cell membranes of fatty cells like our brains. It is no coincidence that a walnut looks like a brain when cracked in half. They also contain arginine which opens up blood vessels making them heart healthy. They are a great fiber source as well. Oats are another great fiber source. Thy contain ferulic acid which fights against prostate cancer. Steel cut oats are the oat groat before it is pressed and rolled for rolled oats. They take longer to break down in the body thus giving lasting energy. Instant oatmeal is chopped up rolled oats that have been mechanically predigested and usually contain excessive amounts of sugar and flavorings. Steel cut oats are optimal. Yogurt contains probiotics which the body needs to maintain immune health. Greek yogurt has twice the amount of protein as regular yogurt. It is a bit more sour too. Avoid yogurts that contain high fructose corn syrup, added sugars and artifical sweeteners.
Salmon is high in omega 3 , selenium, iodine & zinc. Wild should be used instead of farmed raised. Farm raised salmon are not fed their natural diet but rather fed corn and the like. These feeds also contain dyes so the meat will be pink, antibiotics,etc. Farmed raised fish are subject to illnesses and environmental contaminants due to the fact they are confined and packed together in small spaces like all other factory farmed animals.
So enjoy these easy to find superfoods.

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