Bookstores and TV ads are filled with different types of trendy diets that have had varying levels of success. The national healthy eating guidelines for Americans, however, remain the same, still recommending a diet that includes a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats/meat products.
There are certain foods, referred to as “superfoods” that are known to be packed with nutrients and other beneficial properties and therefore are highly recommended foods to include in your diet.
- Soy:Soy is a staple ingredient in many Asian dishes. Soy, especially in dry bean form, can help lower cholesterol, prevent some types of cancer, increase the body's natural defenses, and has anti-parasitic and antibacterial properties.
- Flaxseed:Flaxseed is an excellent source of alpha linolenic acid (ALA), a member of the omega-3 class of fatty acids. Flaxseed can decrease your risk for cancer, slow the progress of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, and lower cholesterol levels. They can be eaten raw, ground or toasted. The equivalent of two teaspoons is an ideal daily amount.
- Tomatoes:A great antioxidant, tomatoes supply hefty amounts of vitamin C, which in addition to being a natural barrier to colds, fights against premature aging in cells. They help prevent prostate and endometrial cancer, increase the body's natural defenses, and are protease inhibitors which have powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
- Grapes: This fruit can help regulate intestinal function, lower cholesterol and is an anti-carcinogen.
- Citrus fruits: Citrus fruits are fundamentally antioxidants and anticoagulants, and they can help increase the body's natural defenses. The vitamin C in citrus fruits, when eaten in the same meal as foods containing iron, can aid in the absorption of iron. This is specifically important for vegetarians to know, given that higher quality iron sources are mostly meats.
- Nuts:In addition to being rich in vitamin E, almonds, peanuts, walnuts and hazelnuts can help lower cholesterol with substances that help relax arteries, thus helping to prevent the formation of clots.
- Garlic and Onions:Garlic and onions are natural enemies of stomach cancer and play an important role in cardiovascular protection. The combination of garlic and fish oil is great for lowering cholesterol. Allicin is a compound found in garlic that has been noted to helps fight certain types of heart disease, it has the ability to dissolve fats, and it can also be used as an antioxidant to some extent.
- Cruciferous (flower) Vegetables:Raw or steamed broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, cabbage and brussel sprouts may protect against certain cancers.
- Hot chili peppers:Chili peppers contain an anti-carcinogen called capsaicin.
- Fiber:Certain high fiber foods, such as wheat bran, whole grain rice and whole fruits and vegetables, are good for the intestines. Others, such as: oat bran, oats, rye, legumes and pulp and seeds from vegetables and fruit, can contribute to lowering cholesterol Cereal grains are also an important source of energy. According to the United States Food Guide Pyramid published by the Department of Agriculture, when eaten whole, including the shell and the germ, they provide an even greater amount of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
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