Dr. Steve Lipsky MD, FACEP
It has long been known that certain vegetables, fruits, nuts, fish, berries, and teas are good for you, but several are now known to provide health benefits, such as strengthening our immune systems and preventing / combating diseases. These so-called “Superfoods” provide benefits besides basic nutrition, and a recent article in the Arizona Republic discussed 10 of them, (although there is no “official” list):
- Oats – Reduces bad cholesterol and thus helps prevent heart disease. Research has shown that one bowl per day may reduce cholesterol up to 23%
- Berries – Red, blue, or black have large stores of antioxidants that protect cells from free radicals and other high energy molecules that are thought to lead to cancer and premature aging. They have more fiber, minerals, and vitamins per weight that other fruits. Some studies show that only 1 cup/wk is effective.
- Walnuts – These are loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids which protect against cancer, inflammation that causes disease (even those thought to cause heart disease by many) and inflammation that accelerates aging. They even play a role in possibly stabilizing moods and increasing brainpower. (Dr. Oz loves them!!)
- Fish rich in Omega-3 – Salmon, mackerel, trout, and swordfish are rich in this fatty acid that is cardioprotective, and has been shown to help treat depression and arthritis. They should be eaten 2-3 times per week.
- Quinoa – A seed that was a staple of the ancient Incan diet, is a “complete protein” meaning it contains all the 8 essential amino acids that one’s body can use to make the other 13 if needed. These are the building blocks of all proteins in the body. It is a delicious substitute for rice, and is gluten-free.
- Dark Greens – Spinach, kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, seaweed, etc. are packed with antioxidants that (as above) reduce inflammation that can lead to cancer and heart attacks.
- Avocado – Lowers cholesterol and helps prevent cancer and heart disease due to containing oleic acid, which is a monounsaturated “good” fat, as well as being packed with minerals.
- Dark Chocolate – Helps decrease blood pressure, reduce “bad” cholesterol, and is good for the heart.
- Yogurt – Contains probiotics that are the “good” bacteria that line our intestines. These help to resolve diarrhea problems wherein the normal bacteria population has been offset, as well as helping boost the immune system, and have been shown to improve asthma, eczema and Crohn’s disease as well.