March 2017 Healthy Lifestyle

The A to Z of Healthy Eating

Ever wonder why certain foods are recommended for good health?  What is it about specific foods that make them healthy?  Can we identify the specific chemicals in these foods that translate into better health?  To answer these questions we will review some of the recommended foods from A to Z.

Let’s start with the one that is said to keep the doctor away – the apple, which contains dozens of Phytochemicals (beneficial plant chemicals).  Quercitin is a beneficial chemical in apples which improves eye health and helps fight allergies; and it also appears to be helpful to fight against the onset of dementia.  Apples also contain potassium which helps the heart and lowers blood pressure; and vitamin C which is an anti- oxidant.

B is for berries and the brain.  Blueberries are known as the brain berry.  Berries contain flavinoids which are known to keep the brain functioning better.  They also contain ellagic acid which is known to decrease the growth of cancer cells and also to improve cardiovascular function.  Berries also contain potassium which decreases the risk of osteoporosis; fiber for the GI tract; and anti-oxidants to fight against the ravages of aging.

C is for cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli which contain sulforaphane, a chemical with anti cancer properties. Cauliflower contains the chemical I3c which helps normalize hormones and helps with liver detoxification.  Broccoli is also known to decrease the formation of cataracts.  Eating the broccoli sprouts is even better since the sprouts contain 10-100 times more sulforaphane than the mature broccoli.

Now to G for Garlic which contains a substance called Inulin, an insoluble fiber which helps to lower the blood levels of cholesterol and glucose.  Garlic also contains beta carotene (helpful for eyesight), zinc (helpful in wound healing), and folate an important B vitamin.  Studies have shown a decreased rate of colon and stomach cancer in people who regularly eat garlic.

L is for Legumes (beans) and one of the best benefits of beans is as a healthy source of protein.  One cup of Lentils provides 17 grams of protein with 1/6th the fat of a lean steak!  When combined with brown rice or couscous, beans become a complete protein providing all the essential amino acids necessary for the body to make proteins

O is for Oats – the ancient Greeks were the first to eat Oatmeal which is now known to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease; to support immunity; and to help stabilize the mood since oats contain tryptophan, the stress lowering chemical in the brain.  Oats also contain fiber for the GI tract; and manganese for the bones.

Lastly, Z is for Zucchini that has many health benefits.  One cup of zucchini contains only 36 calories and provides fiber for GI health.  Zucchini lowers the cholesterol level by influencing the production of bile from the liver.

In summary, eating fresh, unprocessed whole foods naturally grown from A to Z allows a person to stay healthy, improves energy, lowers the risk of chronic illness and cancer and slows the aging process.  Do we need any other reasons to eat healthy foods?!