Top 10 healthy foods

Take responsibility for your health and fitness before illness takes care of you!

Top 10+1 Healthy Foods

If optimal health is your goal, then there's no getting around your diet and your nutritional health. I have always thought of my body as a car: how do I want to look after my car to keep it in peak running condition? Do I want regular maintenance, good tires, great fuel mileage from top-grade fuel? If so, and I want to keep my own body in excellent running condition, I must take care of it. Here are the top 10 + 1 foods that will help keep your "engine" and body running and healthy.

1. Nuts (especially almonds and walnuts): Nuts are rich sources of calcium, iron, protein, vitamin E, fibre, potassium, riboflavin, phosphorous and magnesium. Nuts may help to maintain and/or lower blood cholesterol levels, and almonds have the highest fibre content of any tree nut. Add them to salads or casseroles, or just eat them raw!

2. Broccoli:
Broccoli is rich in fibre, folate, potassium, calcium, vitamin K, and phytonutrients, which are compounds that decrease the risk for developing heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. Broccoli is also an excellent source o f vitamin A, which is linked to the preservation of eye health. Beta-carotene is also found in broccoli: beta-carotene is an anti-oxidant, which helps fight off cancer-causing cells. Researchers from the University of Illinois have found that adding broccoli to a meal can often double its anticancer properties.

3. Blueberries (strawberries and blackberries):
This little bluish-purple fruit (along with the others listed above) is packed with anti-oxidants, phytonutrients, vitamin C and fibre. According to a Harvard Medical School study, elderly people who eat plenty of blueberries and strawberries are less likely to suffer from cognitive decline. The anthocyanins (a colour pigment) found in the fruit can decrease the risk of suffering from hypertension, as well as helping to lower the risk of artery hardening and/or intestinal diseases. Add to your cereal, your yogurt, or make a smoothie!

4. Oily Fish (especially salmon)
Fish such as salmon, trout, herring, mackerel, sardines, and anchovies are an excellent source of lean, high quality protein in the diet. Oily fish also contain vitamins A and D. Lean salmon fillets contain up to 30% oil, specifically Omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to be beneficial to heart health and to inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. One US study found that prostate cancer progression was significantly slowed when patients went on a low-fat diet with fish oil supplements. But I would advise food first, then supplements! Omega-3 fatty acids are also linked with a decrease in depression, heart disease and some cancers. A 3 ounce (75 gram) serving provides 50% of one's daily dose of niacin, which may protect against Alzheimer's Disease and memory loss.

5. Leafy Green Vegetables (i.e. kale, spinach, cabbage)
These vegetables, especially spinach, are packed full of anti-oxidants, vitamins A, B6, C, E, and K, as well as selenium, niacin, zinc, phosphorous, copper, folate, potassium, calcium, manganese, and iron. They contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which are especially important for eye health. Leafy green veggies make help to decrease the risk for developing type 2 diabetes and they benefit the stomach, liver and immune system as well.

6. Sweet Potatoes:
Sweet potatoes are a delicious source of beta-carotene, complex carbohydrates, folate, and vitamins B6 and C. These delicious vegetables contain 8 times the amount of cancer-fighting and immune-boosting properties of vitamin A, and may slow the aging process. Sweet potato soup is absolutely marvelous!

7. Avocadoes:
Avocadoes are not just for guacamole anymore! They are a rich source of monounsaturated fat (a heart-healthy fat), B vitamins, vitamins E and K, as well as a good source of fibre, potassium and folate. Avocadoes help lower blood cholesterol when eaten on a regular basis. One avocado has more than 50 % of the day's fibre consumption, and over 40% of the day's requirement of folate. In addition, these tasty fruits help decrease risk for heart disease. Add to salads and soups and casseroles.

8. Oatmeal:
Oatmeal is an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, B vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, folate and potassium. It is also high in fibre, especially soluble fibre, which assists in the lowering of artery-damaging LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol.

9. Beans (especially dark red beans, such as kidney beans):
This versatile legume is full of Omega-3 fatty acids, soluble fibre, calcium, phytonutrients and protein. Eating a serving of legumes (beans, peas, or lentils) 4 times per week can lower one's risk for heart disease by 22%. And the darker the bean (colour-wise), the more anti-oxidants and iron it contains. Add them to soups, stews, and casseroles.

10. Garlic:
Garlic is a powerful disease fighter that inhibits the growth of bacteria, including E. coli. Allicin, a compound found in garlic, works as a potent anti-inflammatory, and has been shown to help lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Just use cautiously if you're conscious about your breath!

And the complementary and last but not least in this list is the number
11. Apples
Apples are an excellent source of anti-oxidants, which combat free radicals, damaging substances generated in the body that cause undesirable changes, and are also involved in the aging process and some diseases. Apples contain soluble fibre in the form of pectin, which helps to lower blood glucose levels and cholesterol. In addition, fresh apples are an excellent source of vitamin C, which aids in the absorption of iron in the body. The vitamin C also protects cells, forms collagen and keeps the arteries healthy. It is true that an apple a day keeps the doctor away!

Now it would be easy to make a meal with a large number of these powerful foods:
Spinach salad with avocado, walnuts, and apples
Poached salmon with lemon/dill sauce, a steamed, baked potato and broccoli florets
Fresh fruit salad with blueberries, apples, and strawberries

Be creative and keep your body in optimum running condition by using these foods!

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