Monday, 24 November 2014

10 Super Foods

We all love our food. Here in the West we seem to have an unlimited choice of foods available to us.
 
Compare our diet to 50 years ago, it is astonishing how far we have advanced in our consumption of very exotic and tasty foods from around the world.
 
But why is it that the food we seem to enjoy eating most is bad for us and healthy food doesn’t always seem as exciting!? Why is it that unhealthy foods are so easily available, cheap and so addictive? Why can’t the same be true for healthy foods?
 
I think we all understand how it works, foods are processed to make them more viable from a business point of view. To make a food product more profitable you’d want it to be as tasty as possible, (add sugar and/or salt) and make it last as long as possible, (add preservatives). With a good marketing campaign behind you, you have the perfect recipe to sell tasty, addictive, profitable, long lasting foods.
 
Unfortunately to be healthy, foods need to be as ‘naked’ as possible. So no processing or refining to make them last longer and/or taste nicer. We are naturally built to eat fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and occasionally meats and as fresh as possible in their natural state. As soon as anything is done to them by way of processing or refining our bodies struggle to deal with this type of ‘unnatural’ food.
 
Obviously our bodies are very good as breaking down all types of food, and we become very conditioned to the diet that is available to us. But, in the West we have recently had an abundance of unnatural foods that our bodies are struggling to handle.
 
Also the amount of food can be a modern issue.

Numerous studies have consistently shown that eating little and often is far healthier than eating a lot occasionally. So 4-6 small meals a day is far better than 2-3 large meals. This might be because our ancestors would naturally graze on fruit and berries etc all day… rather than eat a large meal at fixed times.
 
Also, test have shown that people who live on a low calorific diet are generally far healthier and live longer healthier lives. Again, this has probably got a lot to do with how we would have survived in the wild.
 
So, what are shown to be the very best foods that are easily available to us today?
 
Here they are, in no particular order:

1.       Blueberries

Packed with antioxidants and phytoflavinoids, these berries are also high in potassium and vitamin C, making them the top choice of doctors and nutritionists. Not only can they lower your risk of heart disease and cancer, they are also anti-inflammatory.


2.       Garlic

Aphrodisiac, money, food, medicine, vampire repellent – garlic has had many uses throughout the ages.

More recent evidence-based research suggests garlic may be effective against high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, cholesterol, colds and some cancers.

3.       Spinach
Popeye was definitely on to something — eating spinach even before we knew about superfoods! Spinach is filled with antioxidants, including vitamin C and beta-carotene, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin — a duo that acts like sunscreen for your eyes and guards against macular degeneration. One cup of fresh spinach leaves also provides almost double the daily requirement for vitamin K, which plays an important role in cardiovascular and
bone health. And of course you can't forget that spinach is a great vegetarian source of iron, which keeps your hair and nails strong and healthy. Use fresh spinach leaves as a base for salad or sauté it and add to an omelette.

4.       Grapes
This fruit is fabulously portable, so there’s no excuse not to include grapes in your healthy eating plan. They may strengthen your eyes, help with circulation, and may even fight cancer and kidney stones.

5.    Tomato’s

They are loaded with lycopene, which makes your skin look younger and keeps your heart healthy. In fact, a Harvard study found that women with the most lycopene in their blood reduced their risk of a heart attack by 34%.
 

6.       Salmon and other fatty fish


Salmon is a rich source of protein, vitamin D, selenium, B2, B3, B6 and B12 and those all-important omega-3 fatty acids. So exactly what can salmon do for you? Quite a bit, including protection from cancer, cardiovascular problems, macular degeneration, depression, and cognitive decline – that’s a lot of pluses in a pretty compact package. The best salmon to buy? Wild caught, Alaskan salmon, which routinely ranks low in contaminants and high in nutrients. Wild salmon’s benefits start to kick in at about 2 servings a week, so there’s no need to over-do it.



7.       Chocolate


Dairy free chocolate, in moderation, is a delicious treat that actually does a body good. It can help elevate mood, improve blood flow and even lower blood pressure. It helps reduce inflammation and LDL “bad cholesterol,” and it’s loaded with antioxidants, which can help prevent cell damage, degenerative diseases and even cancer – all of which is good news for chocolate lovers. Keep in mind though, chocolate’s numerous health benefits are not a license to set up camp in the sweet aisle. You have to manage your “dose,” keeping yours to a modest 1 oz. serving, a few times a week. To maximize chocolate’s benefits, look for high-quality, dairy-free dark chocolate that’s at least 70% cocoa – and enjoy!

 

8.       Nuts

Eat over 5 oz/wk. They can cut heart attack deaths by 40% in women. Almonds and walnuts lower cholesterol. Unsalted are best for you. And eat them raw if you can. But I personally find that beer tastes way better with salted roasted nuts. Hey, you don’t have to be a fanatic about this stuff to make it work for you.
 

9.       Green & Black Tea

How about a super food that’s cheap, has no calories, is associated with relaxation and pleasure, tastes good, and is available everywhere, from the finest restaurants to the local diner? And how about if that food lowered blood pressure, helped prevent cancer and osteoporosis, lowered your risk for stroke, promoted heart health, played a probable role in preventing sunlight damage to the skin (such as wrinkles and skin cancer), and contributed to your daily fluid needs? Tea is all that. If you’re not sipping orange pekoe at the office, gulping refreshing brewed iced green tea on the tennis court, or enjoying some Earl Grey after dinner, you’re missing an opportunity to improve your health and longevity with tea, the world’s most popular super food.
 

10.   Olive Oil

Several large studies suggest that the monosaturated fat in olive oil is good for the heart. Olive oil lower bad cholesterol levels and increases the good levels.

Olive oil is also rich in
antioxidants - it's probably one of the key protective aspects of the so-called Mediterranean diet.

Watch out for the calories - a little goes a long way. A tablespoon of oil contains 120 kilocalories, which is the same as a large slice of bread and butter.
 

11.   Pomegranate

Bonus super food!! One of the oldest known fruits, found in writings and artifacts of many cultures and religions, the pomegranate (punica granatum) is an original native of Persia. This nutrient dense, antioxidant rich fruit has been revered as a symbol of health, fertility and eternal life.
 
What are your favourite super foods? What are your vices? I’d love to hear your comments.
 
By Kevin Goodwin, Direct Cleaners ltd, http://www.directcleaners.com