- Certain foods contain substances that aid the body in preventing diseases and increasing longevity.
- Joy Bauer has 14 "super foods" that should be included in a person's diet.
- While researchers have previously tried to rank foods by healthiness, they now believe that including healthy foods in a diet is good enough.
According to many scientific studies foods including quinoa, broccoli, beans, and almonds can be categorized as super foods that prevent diseases and increase longevity. Foods like these contain some powerful substances that may help to prevent diseases and improve overall health. As experts put it, what we eat and drink can influence longevity, diseases, and even aging.
According to David Grotto, RD, author of101 Foods That Could Save Your Life, certain food can make a significant impact on health. He adds a few examples– people with arthritis should ideally have lots of ginger, peppers, and yogurt while people with migraines and headaches should have blueberries, mushrooms, or rosemary. Joy Bauer, MS, RD, Today Show registered dietician and author of Joy Bauer's Food Cures agrees to the fact that all common health concerns can be treated with the right kind of food. Further, one can look and feel younger, have a longer life, improve their mood, and manage diabetes all by having proper healthy food.
Healthy nutritious foods provide the body with substances that prevent free radicals from damaging cells. Indirectly these foods improve the functioning of the immune system and reduce inflammation. There are a number of nutrients that can prevent diseases that shortens the life period – phytonutrients, proteins, vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids. Some of the chronic medical conditions that can be prevented by a healthy diet include heart disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and cancer. Experts do caution that a healthy diet alone may not be enough to get over these conditions, a healthy lifestyle including regular exercise, avoiding smoking, and controlling stress, is equally important.
Some Super Foods
According to Joy Bauer's Food Cures and 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life there are 14 foods that should be included in the diet:
- Almonds – These nuts are abundant in proteins, fiber, vitamin E, and antioxidants. These heart healthy nuts are known to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and help control body weight.
- Barley – These are very rich in vitamin E, fiber, vitamin B, and antioxidants. They also contain beta-glucan which may help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
- Quinoa – This a good source of protein, fiber, iron, zinc, vitamin E, and selenium. They are helpful in controlling body weight and also help to reduce the risk of heart diseases and diabetes.
- Coffee – When had in moderation, coffee may help to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and improve memory and mood. It may also help to reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease in men.
- Eggs – This is an excellent source of protein, folate, choline, and iron. They also help to control weight and foster healthy eyes.
- Grapes – They are very rich in vitamin C, potassium, and quercetin, which many earlier studies have shown as a good component to improve the functioning of the immune system.
- Kale – This green is rich in vitamin A, C, potassium, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which help to reduce the risk of cancer, and macular degeneration.
- Ginger – It has very good anti-inflammatory properties and helps to control stomach troubles, nausea, and motion sickness.
- Pecans – These nuts are rich in vitamin E and antioxidants.
- Sweet potatoes – These roots are abundant in vitamin A and C, and fiber. They are also rich in lycopene which is efficient in controlling heart disease, and cancers like prostate and breast cancer.
- Olive oil – This oil is rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids and compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties.
Wendy Bazilian and Steven Pratt, authors of The Super Foods Rx Diet, say that there are few more foods that can be included in this list -- beans, blueberries, broccoli, oats, oranges, pumpkin, salmon, soy, spinach, tea, tomatoes, turkey, walnuts, and yogurt.
Researchers had tried to rank or score foods on the basis of their nutritional profiles. But James Joseph, PhD, a researcher for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, says that this may be very confusing. Instead one can just choose a variety from the different vegetables, whole grains, nuts, lean protein, fish, and low-fat dairy. It is nearly impossible to walk around and choose food on the basis of a healthy nutrition pyramid or book. Opt for whole grains, nuts, and simple frozen foods, and avoid refined flour, sugar, saturated and trans fats. One also needs to remember that the size of the portion equally matters. Low-calorie foods can be had in moderate-sized portions while other super foods should be had in sensible portions.
According to experts the best thing about ‘super foods’ is that one can think of what can be added to the list rather than worrying about what should be avoided. Grotto says that if we can encourage people about eating good food, rather than telling what not to eat, they will enjoy having healthy foods and indulge lesser on unhealthy foods.