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Top 10 Healthiest Foods

Picking a top 10 healthiest foods list is more difficult than you might expect. With Americans trapped in the midst of an obesity epidemic and diseases like cancer and heart disease running rampant through our society you might think that the food we eat is the enemy. But the following foods are actually the super heroes that can save us from much of what currently ails us. The really good news is they are also delicious.

  1. Kale  Most of us know kale as that green leaf that sits next to our steak to make the plate look prettier when we go to a fancy restaurant. But kale is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. The USDA currently has a test called the ORAC rating that tests and rates a food’s antioxidant and phytochemical makeup and how those compounds work together as a team. Kale has the highest rating among all vegetables. Kale is high in calcium, iron, vitamins A, C and K. It is also full of beta –carotene lutein and zeaxanthin all of which are powerful antioxidants that have been shown to ward off macular degeneration.
  2. Blueberries  Speaking of nutritional powerhouses the tiny blueberry is one of the nutritional super powers of the food world. High in vitamin C and fiber, the blueberry scored higher on the ORAC (see above) health rating than any other food in the world.  Tests show that blueberries help mental function, cardiovascular health and may reduce the risk of getting certain types of cancer.  And just like kale, blueberries can help ward off macular degeneration. Put more of both of these foods in your diet,  and you will be seeing well into the future.
  3. 3.       Wild-caught Salmon  Salmon is one of the healthiest foods you can eat as long as it is the right kind of salmon. The right kind is wild-caught, not farm raised. Farm raised salmon have few of the health benefits of wild caught salmon and are higher in contaminates like PCBs and antibiotics. Wild caught salmon are high in Omega-3 fatty acids which have been shown to help cardiovascular health and improve brain function as well as lowering overall inflammation levels in the body. Salmon is also high in protein to help your body repair and build muscle tissue. Mercury contamination is a concern for many when the subject of eating fish is brought up; it is truly a big concern. But of all the fish that are high in omega-3’s, salmon has been shown to contain less mercury than most other high fat fish.
  4. 4.       Green Tea  Green tea is rich in antioxidants like catechin, polyphenols and epigallocatechin gallate. Not only does green tea taste great and help to keep the body hydrated, it also promotes heart health. For people who are trying to lose a few pounds, green tea helps speed up fat oxidization and raises the metabolic rate, thus aiding in weight loss.
  5. 5.       Lentils  Lentils are small disc shaped legumes. They are high in folate, iron and manganese and several other important   vitamins and minerals. But what really makes lentils a super star is their fiber content, especially soluble fiber.  One cup of lentils contains a whopping 16 grams of fiber. This soluble fiber helps to control blood sugar levels and can lower blood cholesterol levels. Lentils are also a good source of vegetable protein.
  6. 6.       Walnuts Walnuts are high in omega-3s, protein, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. For centuries people have believed that walnuts were “brain food” because they looked like a brain. Now science is backing up this ancient belief, but for a different reason. It has been proven that omega-3s help improve brain function on many levels. Since most of us don’t get enough omega -3s in our current diet, adding foods that raise our levels of this important “essential” fat is crucial to our mental and overall health.
  7. 7.       Grass-Fed Beef  Grass fed beef has less omega-6 fatty acids (which are essential but promote inflammation) and more omega-3s, which helps our bodies create a balance between these nutrients. Our Paleolithic ancestors consumed a ratio of between 1 omega-6 to 1 omega-3 and 4 omega-6 to 1 omega-3; this range is considered optimal. Today that ratio is between  11 to 1 to 30 to 1. Grass- fed beef is high in protein, B vitamins, vitamin E, zinc and iron. Grass -fed beef is very different than the beef you buy at the grocery store. Most grocery store beef is grain fed, specifically corn fed. But cows were never meant to live by grain alone. Eating grain upsets their stomachs, causing ulcers and illness. Then they are given antibiotics to eliminate infection.  Grain-fed beef is also much lower in vitamin E and other nutrients.
  8. 8.       Sweet Potatoes  The sweet potato is high in fiber and a rich source of powerful antioxidants in the carotenoid family which includes beta-carotene. They are also loaded with vitamin A and C , and potassium. Amazingly, according to a study in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, an extract from baked sweet potatoes showed cancer-fighting properties. Finally, sweet potatoes contain a host of phytochemicals that include quercetin and chlorogenic acid. The health benefits of the sweet potato can be summed up in a single word. Sweet!
  9. 9.       Broccoli This member of the cruciferous vegetable family is royalty in the food nutrition world. One cup of broccoli contains 2g of protein, 2g of fiber, 288 mg of potassium, 43 mg of calcium, 81 mg of vitamin C, plus folate, magnesium, phosphorus and beta carotene. Add to that an impressive resume for helping our bodies (especially women’s bodies) fight cancer. Broccoli is loaded with indole 3-carbinol, which, in addition to being a strong antioxidant, seems to protect the structure of the DNA, keeping it from mutating.  This DNA mutation can lead to the development of cancer. Indol 3-carbinol seems to reduce the risk of breast and cervical cancer. Broccoli is also full of phytochemicals called isothiocymates. Isothiocymates fight cancer by neutralizing carcinogens in the body.
  10. 10.   Turmeric  Turmeric is a spice that is a staple in Indian cuisine and gives curry its distinctive yellow coloring. But turmeric is much more than just a pretty face. This spice contains a number of different compounds, but the ones thought to be responsible for its medicinal effects are curcuminoids. Turmeric has a rich history in both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine and is known to be a powerful anti inflammatory. In one study it proved to be virtually as effective as the anti-inflammation medication phenylbutazone, and with no toxic side effects. Curcumin, the most studied curcuminoid has shown promise in several studies as an anti-tumor compound. It also has positive effects on cholesterol levels. As a spice turmeric is incredibly versatile and can be used with almost any of the above mentioned superfoods  to create a powerful and tasty weapon against disease and illness.