Let Food be Your Medicine – Hippocrates
June 28, 2013 1892
Let food be your medicine – 7 key foods for your health and longevity.
- Tomatoes – Ripe and juicy, heirloom and cherry tomatoes are an easy food to love. So it’s just icing on the cake that observational studies suggest lycopene-rich foods like tomatoes may play a role in warding off breast and cervical cancers. Consider tomatoes for heart health, after following nearly 40,000 women, Boston researchers conclude lycopene or other phytochemicals eaten as oil-based tomato products may protect against cardiovascular disease.
- Flax Seed – Scientists are teasing out three potentially beneficial compounds in flax: plant based omega 3 fats, fiber, and disease-fighting compounds called lignans. A Mayo Clinic study finds 40 grams of crushed flaxseed can cut down on hot flashes in menopausal women, and several reports suggest flax can lower “bad” or LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. (Interestingly, in one Chinese study, the cholesterol-lowering impact was more pronounced in women.) The brown or gold seeds may even play a role in fighting breast cancer.
- Kale – An underappreciated leafy green, kale is chock-full of a lot of good things for health in general. Antioxidants like lutein and zeazanthin protect the eye. Add to that a day’s worth of vitamin C and small amounts of calcium and large amounts of vitamin K, a potent bone builder. Researchers find that women who eat diets rich in vitamin K are at lower risk of hip fracture. Seems the body requires vitamin K to activate bone proteins needed to ward off osteoporosis, the crippling bone disease that strikes women four times more often than men.
- Salmon – While the omega 3 fats in salmon do everyone a lot of good. Building blocks for the brain and nervous system, omega 3 fats are critical for brain health. In your forties and beyond? Keep in mind that heart disease is still the number one killer of women and men, and eating fatty fish can help keep the ticker healthy
- Cranberry Juice – Sometimes natural cures really do work because when it comes to treating urinary tract infections, cranberry juice is a recommended strategy. Not because it’s acidic or has a lot of vitamin C. Instead, antioxidants called proanthocyanins are the real medicinal heroes. These tannins prevent bacteria from adhering to the walls of the bladder where they can multiply and cause, or intensify, an infection. This just in: New studies are testing concentrated cranberry extracts and finding they can also help fight UTI’s. When choosing a juice, remember it needs to be 100% juice, no added sugar and NOT from concentrate because the sugar will feed the bacteria you are trying to eliminate.
- Greek Yogurt – Thick and creamy, Greek yogurt offers double the protein of most yogurts and far less sugar. The lower carb levels (7 grams versus 25 grams in fruited yogurt) help keep blood sugar on an even keel. Studies suggest that eating higher levels of protein (30 percent of calories) helps with weight loss, muscle maintenance, and promotes healthier aging. The Institute of Medicine suggests 0.8 grams per kg body weight or 68 grams for a 150-pound man/woman
- Walnuts – Noshing on a handful of walnuts may fight both breast cancer and osteoporosis. In one new study, just two ounces of walnuts per day helped delay development of breast cancer and slow tumor growth in mice. Speculation is antioxidants called phytosterols, already known cancer fighters, could be the culprit. Or protective benefits might come from plant based omega 3 fats (walnuts are the only nut to harbor these fats.) If it’s the latter, another study finds diets rich in these same plant based omega 3s are adept at preventing excessive bone turnover which keeps bones strong and healthy.