Foods to Feature
All fruits and vegetables
Although go easy on potatoes which raise blood sugar levels as fast as sugar. Fruits and vegetables provide many cancer risk reducing-nutrients that include lycopene (tomatoes), beta carotene (orange coloured fruits and vegetables which are cancer and cardio-protective), flavonoids* and anti-oxidants*.
Generally the deeper coloured fruits – like blueberries, bilberries, prunes and raspberries – offer higher levels of anti-oxidants.
Anti-oxidants, defined below, are believed to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and deterioration in brain function.
Broccoli, kale, spinach and cabbage are at the top of the vegetable health index and the first three also contain lutein which helps protect eyes. Shiitake mushrooms contain an immuno-stimulant. Many health experts (eg. the US Dept of Health) are now recommending not just 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, but up to 9 portions.
Contain, of course, high levels of Vitamin C and recent research indicates are cardio-protective. Note however that the positive effects do not necessarily increase beyond a portion a day.
Salmon, tuna, herring and mackerel all add heart protective Omega 3 oils. These polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs) have also been shown to help reduce inflammation of the airways and joints – and can therefore help to reduce the symptoms of asthma and arthritis respectively.
Sardines add Co-enzyme Q10, which is a powerful antioxidant and anti-aging nutrient (plus calcium in tinned sardines). All types of fish offer high quality, low calorie protein.
Shrimps and prawns contain betaine which can help reduce blood levels of the toxic compound homocysteine – which in turn reduces the risk of heart attacks.
Beans and lentils
Beans and lentils of all types provide an important type of fibre called fermentable or pre-biotic fibre which encourages the intestine to produce pro-biotics – the ‘friendly’ flora. In turn, researchers have shown that this can reduce the risk of colo-rectal cancer. Beans – like oats – have also been shown to help lower cholesterol.
Ideally with skin off, is a low calorie meat and has a better health profile than red meats – though venison is low in fat and cholesterol. Note, though, that red meat contains important B vitamins, so reduce consumption rather than cut it out.
2-3 times a week. They contain lecithin which helps increase the level of HDL cholesterol – the GOOD cholesterol that is cardio-protective.
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