We’re all familiar with the benefits of broccoli, nuts, orange juice, apples, bananas, and green tea. We even try to work them into our diets as often as possible. Fortunately, they’re all what Alton Brown would term Good Eats, so it isn’t torturesome to do so.
However, if you’re like me you’ve always hoped for more variety – more foods to add to the mix. The food gods were listening, and below are some of the newbies we can throw into the line-up:
1. POMEGRANATE: This delicious, versatile fall fruit has higher antioxidant activity than red wine and green tea! Studies show it may prevent skin cancer and kill breast and prostate cancer cells.
But it doesn’t stop there. Pomegranate also fights Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers at Loma Linda University found that mice who drank pomegranate juice experienced 50 percent less brain degeneration than animals that consumed only sugar water. The pomegranate drinkers also did better in mazes and tests as they aged.
Pomegranate is also great for your arteries. In an Israeli research, a group of diabetics who drank about 2 ounces of pomegranate juice a day for 3 months kept their bodies from absorbing bad cholesterol into their immune system cells (a major contributing factor to hardened arteries).
2. KIWIFRUIT: On the outside, this guy looks kind of homely – but he’s actually beautiful inside. He also tastes a little like strawberrries (at least to me). Kiwifruit are full of antioxidants and fiber, and I don’t have to tell you how your body loves that combo.
Kiwifruit works to:
Protect against free radical damage: A study at Rutgers University compared the 27 most popular fruits and determined that kiwifruit was the most nutritionally dense.
Here’s more good news from the Kiwifruit Camp:
Kiwifruit makes the short list of fruits with substantial amounts of vitamin E. It contains more vision-saving lutein than any other fruit or vegetable, except for corn.
Kiwifruit lowers blood-clot risk: In a 2004 study from the University of Oslo in Norway, participants who ate two or three kiwis for 28 days significantly reduced their potential to form a clot. They also benefited another way: Their triglycerides (a blood fat linked to heart attack) dropped by 15 percent.
3. BARLEY: Barley is full of soluble beta-glucan fiber in its whole kernel or refined flour form. What does this mean for us, exactly? :
USDA Research Studies show that this particular fiber may lower bad cholesterol by as much as 17.4 percent. A 2004 study found that adults with moderately high cholesterol levels who went on a low-fat American Heart Association diet began to see an improvement only when barley was added to the menu.
Barley also decrease blood sugar and insulin levels. This fact makes barley a better choice for people with type 2 diabetes.
4. CRANBERRIES: Thanksgiving wouldn’t be the same without this American berry and it finds itself among the top 10 antioxidant-rich foods. This, of course, makes it a potent cancer protector. It helps treat urinary tract infection and prevents gum disease.
A few things you might not know about cranberries:
Cranberries eradicate E. coli. Cranberry juice, amazingly, can actually ALTER antibiotic-resistant strains, and, thereby, make it impossible for the ill-intending bacteria to trigger an infection. Eating about 1/3 cup of dried cranberries yielded the same benefits. If you haven’t tried the dried berries, you should – they’re very tart and downright delicious. Then again, I’m one of those people who drinks cranberry juice when she doesn’t have to – I just love the flavor.
Cranberries and Cranberry juice also help prevent strokes. Research shows that eating cranberries or juice every day can lead to healthier, more flexible blood vessels.
5. BROCCOLI SPROUTS: Okay, this one might surprise you – I had to do a double-take. Broccoli sprouts are even better than Broccoli….. you know, superfood extraordinaire. Broccoli’s offspring is surpassing it! They contain at least 20 times as much of the known disease-fighter, sulforaphane glucosinolate (SGS), as their elders.
SGS has been shown to:
A. Kill tumors: The chemical triggers enzymes in the body that either kill cancer cells or keep them from growing.
B. Protect your heart: People who ate about a half cup a day of sprouts lowered their total cholesterol by an average of 15 points, and women in the study raised their good cholesterol by 8 points — in just 1 week, according to a Japanese study.
C. Save your sight: Exposure to UV sunlight can, over time, may lead to macular degeneration. Malcular degeneration is the number one cause of blindness in US seniors. Research at Johns Hopkins determined that broccoli sprouts can protect retinal cells from ultraviolet light damage.
6. KEFIR: You’re probably thinking, like I was when I first read about it, “Kefir?!?!” Kefir is a cultured milk drink, and it scores big in calcium — one 8-ounce serving contains 30 percent of the recommended daily intake — and contains more beneficial bacteria than yogurt.
Kefir can reduce food allergies. In a targeted agricultural research, baby mice fed kefir had a threefold reduction in the amount of an antibody linked to food allergies.
More impressively, Kefir battles breast cancer. Women age 50 and older who consumed fermented milk products had a lower risk than those who ate little or none.
With Kefir, you can avoid triggering lactose intolerance. It contains lactase, the enzyme that people with lactose intolerance are missing, say researchers at Ohio State University.
So how about the taste? It tastes like plain yogurt, it just isn’t as thick.
Have a beautiful weekend!
Information from: Prevention Magazine – the best magazine on the rack