January 21, 2011

Top Superfoods (Part 2)

Superfoods are foods with high phytonutrient content and are beneficial to our health and well-being. Such foods that contain significant amounts of antioxidants, anthocyanins, vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and dietary fiber. Superfoods can lower your cholesterol, reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer, and put you in a good mood.1 Also see Top Superfoods (Part 1), Top Superfoods Recipes (Part 1), and vegan nutrition.

Top Superfoods 2

Grapefruit - supports the immune system, alleviates cold symptoms, reduces cholesterol, alleviates insomnia, reduces risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer.2 3 Grapefruit contains citric acid, natural sugars, essential oils like limonene, pinene, citral, high in vitamin C, smaller amounts of vitamin A, B complex, E and K. Grapefruit's acidity has an alkaline reaction after digestion, which has a profound effect in the treatment of acidity in the digestive system that causes a host of other health problems. The bioflavonoids found in grapefruit was discovered to even halt cancer cells from spreading in breast cancer patients, by ridding the body of excess estrogen. Grapefruit helps reduce the starches and sweets in the system making it good for diabetes. The grapefruit juice helps to promote digestion by increasing the flow of gastric juices. Eat the grapefruit together with its albedo and pith for their extra fiber that aids bowel movements. The fruit has a fat-burning enzyme and can help to absorb and reduce the starch and sugar in the body.4

Tomatoes - prevents heart disease, is cancer-fighting, are antioxidant rich. Tomatoes contain the richest source of phytonutrient lycopene, and are excellent sources of vitamin C and vitamin A. This fruits antioxidants travel through the body neutralizing dangerous free radicals that could otherwise damage cells and cell membranes, escalating inflammation and the progression or severity of atherosclerosis, diabetic complications, asthma, and colon cancer. Tomatoes are also a great source of fiber, which has been shown to lower cholesterol, keep blood sugar levels from getting too high, and preventing colon cancer. A cup of fresh tomato will provide you with 57.3% of the daily value (DV) for vitamin C, plus 22.4% of the DV for vitamin A, and 7.9% of the DV for fiber.5 Tomatoes contain high levels of the antioxidant beta-carotene, that supports the immune system and helps maintain healthy skin and tissue lining. Tomatoes are packed with antioxidant flavonoids and vitamin E, both of which are essential for heart health, and are a good source of potassium. Lycopene, the pigment that gives them their deep red color, can neutralize 13 free radicals which, if allowed to build up, can cause cell damage and trigger cancer. The amount of lycopene in a tomato varies based on variety, but the deeper and darker red colors are best.6 Research shows that the absorption of lycopene is greatest when tomatoes are cooked with olive oil. In one study, a combination of tomato and broccoli was more effective at slowing tumor growth than tomatoes or broccoli alone.7 Eating tomatoes without the seeds has been shown in some studies to lessen the risk of gallstones and kidney stones.8

Broccoli - fights cancer, improves immune system, prevents colds, and strengthens bones.9 Broccoli is rich in the antioxidant sulforaphane which is linked with a reduced risk of a number of cancers, especially lung, stomach, colon and rectal. The phytonuirients in broccoli help detoxify carcinogens found in the environment, and also have anti-inflammatory properties, and we know that an important factor in reducing the risk of disease is to decrease inflammation.10 Studies have shown that broccoli contains more calcium than most dairy products therefore helping to build bone mass. Broccoli and other leafy green vegetables contain powerful phytochemical antioxidants in the carotenoid family called lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which are concentrated in large quantities in the lens of the eye. Due to it's high fibre content and low sugar, broccoli helps fight against diabetes. Broccoli also contains goitrogens, so if you have thyroid problems limit consumption.11

Broccoli has a strong and very positive impact on our body's detoxification system, and researchers have recently identified one of the key reasons for this detox benefit. Glucoraphanin, gluconasturtiian, and glucobrassicin are 3 glucosinolate phytonutrients found in a special combination in broccoli which is able to support all steps in body's detox process, including activation, neutralization, and elimination of unwanted contaminants. Isothiocyanates (ITCs) are the detox-regulating molecules made from broccoli's glucosinolates, and they help control the detox process at a genetic level. When large supplemental doses of vitamin D are needed to offset deficiency ample supplies of vitamin K and vitamin A help keep our vitamin D metabolism in balance. Broccoli has a strong combination of both vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene) and vitamin K. Broccoli is a rich source of a flavonoid called kaempferol. Recent research has shown the ability of kaempferol to lessen the impact of allergy-related substances on our body. This kaempferol provides anti-inflammatory benefits of broccoli and good for a hypoallergenic diet.12

Papaya - prevents cancer, aids in digestion, lowers cholesterol, strengthens the heart. Papaya is a rich source of proteolytic enzymes, which enable the digestion of protein. Papaya loses some of the enzymes as it ripens, the greener the better. Papaya contains arginine which is known to be essential for male fertility and also carpain, an enzyme thought to be good for the heart. The skin of the papaya is an outstanding external treatment for skin wounds and places that do not heal quickly. The pulp from the juicer can be used for this and as a poultice.13 Papaya contains a high amount of potassium and the flesh of papaya is very high in Vitamin A. Papaya seeds and leaves are useful in treating intestinal worms found in the body. Papaya helps prevent constipation and also aid in digestion. Papaya juice helps in alleviating infections of the colon and helps to relieve morning sickness and nausea. Papaya has anti-inflammatory properties and anti-cancerous properties. The anti-inflammatory properties in papaya will help reduce pain for those suffering from arthritis, edema and osteoporosis.14 Papayas may be very helpful for the prevention of atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease. Papayas also are rich sources of antioxidant nutrients such as carotenes, vitamin C and flavonoids; the B vitamins, folate and pantothenic acid; and the minerals, potassium and magnesium; and fiber. These nutrients in all promote good health of the cardiovascular system and also provide protection against colon cancer. Also papaya contains the digestive enzyme, papain, which is used like bromelain, a similar enzyme found in pineapple, to treat sports injuries, other causes of trauma, and allergies.15

Celery - lowers blood pressure, combats cancer, neutralizes acidity, aids in insomnia. Celery leaves has great source of vitamin A, and the stems are an excellent source of vitamins B1, B2, B6 and C, potassium, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, and essential amino acids. Fiber nutrients are released during juicing, preventing constipation. The natural sodium in celery is safe for consumption and is essential for the body. Even for some who are salt-sensitive can safely take the sodium in celery, unlike table salt which is harmful for those with high blood pressure. Most of the compounds in celery hold up well during cooking. Celery promotes healthy and normal kidney function by aiding elimination of toxins from the body. While eliminating toxins, it also prevents formation of kidney stones. The diuretic effect of celery juice aids the breaking and elimination of urinary and gall bladder stones.16 Celery contains active compounds called phthalides, which can help relax the muscles around arteries and allow those vessels to dilate. Celery contains compounds called coumarins that help prevent free radicals from damaging cells.17 Dripping celery tea drops on eyelids is good for ophthalmologic affectations. Presence of coumarins gives relief from migraines.18 Celery is also efficient in cases of asthenia, hoarseness, rheumatism, icterus, gout, arthritis, inflammations, dermatosis, diabetes, and obesity.19

Grapes - fights hypertension, treats constipation, indigestion, fatigue, kidney disorders, macular degeneration and prevention of cataract.20 Flavonoids are phytonutrients give the vibrant purple color to grapes, grape juice and red wine; the darker the color, the higher the concentration of flavonoids. These flavonoid compounds include quercitin, as well as a second flavonoid-type compound (falling into the chemical category of stilbenes) called resveratrol. Both compounds appear to decrease the risk of heart disease by reducing platelet clumping and harmful blood clots and protecting LDL cholesterol from the free radical damage that initiates LDL's artery-damaging actions. The intense mixture of phytonutrients found in grapes, which includes: flavans, anthocyanins, quercetin, myricetin, kaempferol, and resveratrol, is protective effects on cholesterol metabolism, oxidative stress (free radical activity) and inflammation.21 Grapes are rich sources of vitamins A, C, B6 and B9 in addition to essential minerals like potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium and selenium. Due to its illustrious therapeutic value, grapes can be used for cure of asthma, and the assimilatory power of grapes is also higher; it increases the moisture present in lungs. Ripe grape juice is a remedy for curing the migraine disease. It should be taken early in the morning, without mixing additional water. Grapes are quite effective in helping treat constipation because they are considered as a laxative, and for containing organic acid, sugar and cellulose. They also relieve chronic constipation by toning up intestine and stomach. White grape juices equips the iron content present in the body and prevents fatigue. Drinking grape juice also provides you with instant energy. Red grapes have strong antibacterial and antiviral properties and may protect you from infections. They have a strong antiviral property against poliovirus and herpes simplex virus.22 23

See recipes for the Superfoods here.

More Superfoods and Helpful Foods:
8 Raw Foods That Fight Disease
The 10 Cheapest, Healthiest Foods Money Can Buy
8 Surprising Uses for Olive Oil
10 Weird Uses for Vodka
7 Smart Uses for Vinegar
Foods high in Potassium

Remember to check back here often for new post, I try to update at least once a month. Look at my past blog posts for vegan information, resources, and links. E-mail me me if you have any suggestions for new posts, questions on this blog or veganism or questions regarding this post or know any more sites relating to this post.

1 comment:

Big Bad Art said...

Great list. I eat celery when my body needs cleansing and broccoli always makes my body feel good:)