FOOD THAT CURE
These red, blue, and purple pigments give foods like blueberries, grapes, cranberries, cherries, red cabbage, and eggplant their deep colors. They’re not well absorbed by the body, yet there’s still strong evidence that they could help lower blood pressure and protect against diabetes.
When you eat flaxseeds, sesame seeds, whole grains, beans, and berries, your body converts the lignans in them into compounds that behave like estrogen, which may block the natural hormone. Lignans are being studied because they might play a role in preventing illnesses like heart disease and endometrial cancer.
It’s been studied for nearly 30 years. Scientists used to think this is what made red wine good for your heart, but that doesn’t seem to have held up. We still have a lot to learn about this compound in grapes, some berries, and — surprise! — peanuts, but it has shown promise as a possible cancer fighter and brain booster. God order us not to to do so , especially to samson when he asked him not to drink it and not to cut your hair so he can give him the power beyond his imagination.
This gives the spice turmeric its deep yellow-orange hue. Common in Indian, Middle Eastern, and Southeast Asian dishes, turmeric is trendy with health-conscious Americans, showing up on menus at juice bars and coffeehouses. It may protect against type 2 diabetes, cut inflammation, and fight depression, but seasoning a meal won’t give you enough to be effective. And taking it as a supplement could change how some prescription drugs work.
This well-studied flavonoid is in apples, onions, berries, and red wine. Flavonoids help keep your bones, cartilage, blood, fat, and small blood vessels healthy. Quercetin might ease asthma symptoms, lower cholesterol levels, and fight cancer.
When you chop, chew, and digest cruciferous veggies like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and kale, you get this powerful antioxidant (which is also responsible for that rotten smell). It may help lower your chance of getting certain cancers, including breast cancer. Start with fresh, rather than frozen, and eat these veggies lightly cooked: steamed, microwaved, or in a stir-fry.
This red pigment gives the blush to tomatoes, watermelon, and pink grapefruit. Scientists are excited about lycopene potential to help fight cancer, particularly prostate cancer.
They’re also called phytoestrogens, because they behave like the hormone estrogen when they’re in a human body. Some women going through menopause use isoflavones as a way to ease symptoms like hot flashes. Soy products like tofu and edamame are the richest sources.
It puts the heat in cayenne and other spicy peppers. Capsaicin creams are used to relieve pain from arthritis, fibromyalgia, and some types of nerve damage as well as psoriasis itching. It’s also being studied as a way to fight cancer, help with weight loss, and — ironically — treat heartburn.
You’ll get it from red fruits — raspberries, strawberries, and pomegranates — and walnuts. You can also buy it as a supplement. A quick search on the Internet will pull up lots of hype about using it as a fat burner and cancer fighter, but these claims are based on lab studies on mice and rats, not people.
FOOD THAT CURE
LUTEIN AND ZEAXANTHIN
They protect your eyes and vision by absorbing harmful light waves. Having them in your diet has been linked to a lower risk of age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in older adults. Eat dark, leafy greens with healthy fats to help your body absorb these nutrients.
Crush or chop garlic, and you’ll start a chemical reaction that creates this compound in less than a minute. It’s an antioxidant, which means it helps protect cells from damage. It may also help interrupt inflammation, improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and fight germs.
Pass the chocolate and red wine! Among the many reasons they’re good for you, they have catechins. Early research suggests that foods and drinks with these phytonutrients — like tea, cocoa, grapes, apples, and berries — may help fight cancer and protect against heart disease.
This pigment is what gives carrots, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins their orange hue. (It’s also in spinach and kale, but the green from chlorophyll overpowers it.) Your body uses beta carotene to make vitamin A, which helps keep your immune system and vision working well.
The deep blue of these berries does more than make a pretty pie. The color comes from potent compounds called anthocyanins. Scientists think these antioxidants may help protect you from cancer, heart disease, and dementia, and boost your immune system. But we need more research to know for sure. Eat these juicy gems fresh or frozen. They have water and fiber, which fill you up without wrecking your diet. A half-cup has about 40 calories.
These grape-like fruits (pronounced “ah-sigh-EE”) are often called a superfood, because they may have more antioxidants than other berries. Those nutrients can stop cell damage that can lead to many diseases. Still, more research will help us know how much they can help. Enjoy fresh or frozen acai berries, but check with your doctor before you take them as supplements. Large doses can be harmful and may affect how some medicines work.
Surprise! Avocados are single-seeded berries. Their soft green flesh is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. Avocados can help your heart, support weight loss, and may keep you healthy as you get older. Slice and add to salads, blend into smoothies, or spread onto sandwiches instead of mayonnaise. Just don’t overdo it. One serving is 1/5 of an avocado.
Blackberries have a lot of polyphenols, chemicals that may cut inflammation that leads to heart disease and cancer. The berries may also help your small intestine break down sugar better, which could lower your odds of type 2 diabetes. Eat them fresh or frozen if you can. A cup of plain blackberries has 7 grams of sugar. The same amount canned in heavy syrup has over 50 grams. Boysenberries and marionberries are types of blackberries.
These sweet, heart-shaped fruits are full of vitamin C, folic acid, fiber, and antioxidants. They may help lower high blood pressure and cholesterol, help you manage blood sugar, and fight the effects of aging on your brain. Since strawberries spoil quickly, buy them often. To reap the most health benefits, don’t wash or hull them until you’re ready to eat and enjoy.
I have them in my backyard .I never buy them as I have enough to eat , dry and freeze that last me all year.
Sometimes called wolfberries, they’ve been part of Chinese medicine for thousands of years. They have vitamins (C, B2, and A), iron, and antioxidants. Scientists have looked for proof that they boost immunity, fight heart disease, help the brain, aid digestion, and prevent cancer, but so far, they don’t know for sure. Only eat them ripe. Unripe ones can be toxic. And don’t eat them if you‘re pregnant, nursing, or taking blood thinners.
If you tend to get urinary tract infections, you may have downed cranberry juice. It won’t treat UTIs, but cranberry supplements may cut your odds of getting them later. The berries may make it less likely bacteria will stay in your stomach and cause infections. Scientists are studying if they can prevent cancer and boost heart health. Watch how much of the juice you drink: Too much may upset your stomach and lead to kidney stones.
These dark purple berries, also known as chokeberries, are high in vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Because of that, researchers are checking into whether they can help prevent cervical, skin, breast, and colon cancers. Scientists are also studying if aronia berries could help fight liver and heart disease and even obesity. Look for them fresh or frozen at the store. You can also sip aronia-infused tea.
For hundreds of years, people used them to fight colds and flu. A few studies suggest that their extract may shorten flu symptoms if you take them in the first day or two. Only eat cooked elderberries — raw ones or their leaves can make you sick. Also, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding or anyone with immune system problems shouldn’t have the berries at all. Don’t use them if you take diabetes medicines, diuretics, or laxatives.
As far back as A.D. 4, parts of raspberry plants were used to treat morning sickness and stomach pain. Now we know the berries themselves have power. Raspberries are loaded with nutrients that may help fight different types of cancer and others that may protect your brain. Although you can find some of these same substances in diet supplements, treat yourself to fresh raspberries. They’ll give you the most benefits.
A 2/3-cup serving of these peach-colored berries has twice the vitamin C of a glass of orange juice. They’re also rich in antioxidants, which is one reason you’ll find them as an ingredient in some skin care products. It’s best to eat the berries the same day they’re picked, but you can also freeze them for up to 2 years.
You probably know their fuzzy, egg-shaped cousin, the kiwi fruit. These grape-sized berries are about the same in taste and nutrition. They have lutein, which helps protect your eyes; zinc for healthy skin, hair and nails; and potassium, which helps you get a better workout. Since their skin is fuzz-free, they’re easy to pop into your mouth for a quick, sweet snack.
These berries have long been thought to improve vision. (World War II pilots ate bilberry jam in hopes of making their night vision better.) While their extract may help prevent eye problems like macular degeneration and cataracts, we need more research to know for sure. Ask your doctor before you take bilberry extracts or supplements. But enjoy the sweet-tart flavor of fresh ones in late summer and early fall.
In Chinese medicine, the root of the ginseng plant is a common treatment. But what about its berries? Studies of mice showed they may be able to lower cholesterol, fight cancer, and lower gut inflammation. If you have diabetes, there’s some evidence that ginseng berry juice could help you control your blood sugar and weight. Look for ginseng berry extract in skin products, too. It may help fight skin damage and the effects of aging.
These fruits can be light green, pink, or red when they get ripe. In India, one type, amla, has long been used to treat colds and fever, help digest food, and as hair tonic. Now, some evidence suggests these berries could help fight cancer, boost liver health, prevent osteoporosis, and treat parasites and infections. But scientists need to do more research. Enjoy them fresh or cooked, but ask your doctor before you start a supplement.
FOOD THAT CURE
WHAT ARE ANTIOXIDANTS?
They’re chemicals that fight a process in your cells called oxidation. The main source is plant-based foods, but your body makes some, too. You’re probably familiar with vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and the minerals selenium and manganese. Plant nutrients and chemicals like flavonoids, phenols, polyphenols, and phytoestrogens are also antioxidants.
WHAT DO ANTIOXIDANTS DO?
Each one works differently. Together they form a team that fights free radicals. These chemicals cause the oxidation process that damages your cells and the genetic material inside them. Your body makes free radicals as it processes food, sunlight, and toxins like smoke, pollution, and alcohol. Antioxidants either stop free radicals before they form or break them down so they’re harmless.
This antioxidant is stored in fat (you may hear it called fat-soluble). It fights off free radicals that attack fats in your cell walls. It may also stop LDL cholesterol from turning into a form that could harden your arteries (your doctor may call it oxidized) and lead to cardiovascular disease.
Where to get it: Whole grains, vegetable oils (olive, sunflower, canola), nuts, and green leafy vegetables.
Also known as ascorbic acid, it’s stored in water (you may hear it called water-soluble). It may help prevent cancers of the stomach, lung, and digestive system.
Where to get it: Green vegetables, tomatoes, and citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits. Choose raw foods because cooking may destroy it.
It’s a fat-soluble carotenoid (those are the yellow, orange, and red pigments in vegetables and fruits). Your body turns it into retinol, which helps you see. It may be dangerous when taken in supplement form, so it’s best when it comes from food.
Where to get it: Fruits, grains, carrots, squash, spinach, and other green vegetables.
This carotenoid may help protect against prostate, lung, and breast cancer.
Where to get it: Cooked and processed tomatoes are a good and common source: Think marinara sauce on your pasta. Heating the tomatoes makes it easier for your body to absorb the lycopene. Add a bit of fat like olive oil to further help your body use this nutrient.
Found in soil and water, this mineral helps your thyroid work. Research suggests it can help protect against cancer, especially of the lung, colon, and prostate. It’s easy to get too much if you take it as a supplement. That can lead to digestive problems, hair and nail loss, and even cirrhosis of the liver.
Where to get it: Grains, onions, garlic, nuts, soybeans, seafood, meat, and liver.
Scientists know about more than 4,000 of these antioxidants found in fruits and veggies. Every plant contains a different flavonoid combination. They may help protect against heart disease, cancer, arthritis, aging, cataracts, memory loss, stroke, inflammation, and infection.
Where to get them: Green tea, grapes, red wine, apples, chocolate, and berries.
OMEGA-3 AND OMEGA-6 FATTY ACIDS
Omega-3s help protect against heart disease, stroke, arthritis, cataracts, and cancer. Omega-6s help improve eczema, psoriasis, and osteoporosis. Your body can’t make these essential fatty acids, which help stop inflammation. And most Americans get far more omega 6 in their diet and far less omega 3 than they need. Eating less omega 6 and more omega 3 is a recommended goal for many. Just keep in mind that a balanced ratio is four parts omega-6 to 1 part omega 3. There are supplements, but it’s better when these fatty acids come from food.
Where to get them:
- Omega-3s: Salmon, tuna, sardines, walnuts
- Omega-6s: Vegetable oils, nuts, poultry
CAN’T YOU JUST TAKE A PILL?
Nope. Long-term studies on tens of thousands of people show that antioxidants in pill form don’t lower your odds of bad health. People who took them got heart disease, cancer, and cataracts at the same rate as those who didn’t. One exception is age-related macular degeneration. Antioxidant supplements slowed progress a little for some people in late stages of this eye disease.
ARE FRUITS AND VEGGIES THE SECRET?
Sort of. Vegetables and fruits have lots of antioxidants. And it’s true that if you eat more of them, you’re less likely to get any number of diseases. What isn’t clear is why. It may be the antioxidants, or it might be other chemicals in those foods. It could even be that people who eat them make healthier lifestyle choices overall. Scientists continue to explore the issue.
TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING?
It’s hard to get too many antioxidants from the food you eat. That isn’t the case, however, for those in supplement form. Too much beta-carotene may raise your lung cancer risk if you smoke. Too much vitamin E could make you more likely to get prostate cancer or have a stroke. These products can also change the way certain medicines work. Tell your doctor about any you take to make sure they don’t get in the way of your medication.
Steve Ramsey, PhD- Public Health, PgD- Natural Health