Supplements are great—but you can’t subsist on vitamin pills. You need whole and natural foods that break down in your digestive system, and are absorbed by the body to give you energy.
The Best Foods for Your Body
Foods that are as minimally processed as possible are the building blocks of good health. Whole foods usually fall into the following categories: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes (beans and lentils), cold water fish, and nuts and seeds.
Foods That Don’t Contribute Much
At the other end of the spectrum, we have empty-calorie or highly processed foods that pass through your digestive tract, too, but–for the most part–do not enhance your body’s maintenance.
In addition, “unnatural” foods are not as easily eliminated by the body as whole foods are. So it makes sense to eat foods that are as close to their natural form as possible.
A Good Bet For Weight Loss, Too!
Whole foods are not bleached or tampered with and are nutrient dense: they have the most nutrients per portion, when compared to the amount of calories and fat in that food. So eating whole foods will guarantee healthy weight loss, if that is your aim!
Five Super Star Foods
The following five whole foods are especially packed with immune building and energy enhancing properties and are quickly becoming popular additions to the diets of health savvy consumers. (In the case of the first food item, flax seeds, you don’t need more than a few tablespoons every day, but this food packs a nutritious wallop, as you’ll find out!)
1. Flax seeds – Loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, nutty, tasty flax seeds are very easy to digest if they’re ground up in meal form, or taken as oil. If you buy the whole flax seeds, you can pour them through a coffee grinder for easier digestion.
Studies have shown that flax seeds lower LDL, the “bad” cholesterol. The healthful substances in flax seeds have also been found to prevent cancer, heart disease and diabetes. They can also significantly lower levels of inflammation in ailments where inflammation is a factor, such as asthma, arthritis and migraine headaches.
Flax seeds are a good alternative to fish for people who wish the essential and beneficial EPA’s that cold-water fish provide but who don’t wish to eat fish.
2. Mustard greens – Mustard greens are jam packed with antioxidants. These substances neutralize the free radicals that cause damage to the cells and bring about a number of diseases. This peppery plant food is ultra nutrient-dense. Because they are high in Vitamin C, mustard greens aid in the breakdown of antihistamine, the inflammatory factor that is overproduced in asthma and in other immune-related diseases.
In addition, the B-6 in mustard greens decrease platelet-clumping.
Mustard greens also provide women much-needed bone-health nutrients during menopause. The magnesium in mustard greens provide regular sleep patterns and reduce stress.
Mustard greens’ phytochemical activity also reduces carcinogenic diseases by modulating liver detoxing enzymes.
Also, because it’s rich in Vitamin E, this leafy green improves the mental acuity which appears to decline with age.
3. Blueberries – In a recent study by Tufts University on the antioxidant properties of 60 fruits and vegetables, blueberries came out on top. This powerhouse fruit of a shrub family specifically neutralizes free radicals in the collagen matrix of cells which can lead to glaucoma, cataracts, veins, peptic ulcer, heart disease and cancer.
A cousin of blueberry, bilberry, improves nighttime vision acuity. Also, a laboratory study showed that blueberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress, which may reduce age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s.
In addition, studies published in The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showed that compounds in blueberries can inhibit colon cancer cell proliferation and induce programmed cell death of these cancer cells.
Finally, the soluble and insoluble fibers in blueberries can reduce diarrhea and constipation, and the tannins and astringent properties found in the fruit are beneficial to the digestive and urinary tract.
4. Salmon – These amazing “traveling fish” migrate thousands of miles throughout their life cycles, and return to the very location where they were born, to spawn and die. Salmon is high in protein and in the healthy omega-3 fatty acids which are so beneficial for the heart.
Cold-water fish like salmon are higher in omega-3 oils than warm-water fish. Just two servings a week can lower triglycerides, a level of fat associated with high cholesterol levels.
Salmon contains a healthy dose of the B vitamins niacin and B12, which also promotes cardiovascular health. Finally, the EPA found in salmon is the precursor of an anti-inflammatory component which prevents platelets from sticking together, and improves blood flow.
5. Green Tea – The least processed of all true teas, green tea provides the most antioxidant properties. The process by which green tea is made consists of steaming the freshly harvested leaves, without allowing them to ferment. Green tea has long been considered the most widely known of all the teas from China.
Part of the antioxidant effects of green tea are its catechins, which are just as good at scavenging free radicals as are the antioxidants Vitamins C and E.
A slew of studies on green tea show that green tea drinkers appear to be at less risk for a wide range of diseases like cardiovascular disease, stroke, periodontal disease, osteoporosis and cancer.
An epidemiological (population-based) study published in The Archives of Internal Medicine indicated that enjoying a cup or two of green tea a day may significantly lower a woman’s risk of ovarian cancer.
Why Organic Makes a Difference
When purchasing fruits and vegetables, you should choose organic produce whenever possible. Here’s why: when the U.S. Department of Agriculture labels a food organic, it means that the food item is at least 95 percent free of most pesticides, toxic fertilizers, antibiotics and growth hormones.
It also means it has not been treated with ionizing radiation, or bioengineering processes. Also, foods that say they are organic must be grown on soil that uses growing methods which guarantee a minimum of soil erosion.
Good Health Starts With Diet!
A diet rich in a variety of whole foods like these is an undisputed asset to anyone’s diet, so for optimum vitality, stock up on nutrient dense foods, buy organic produce whenever possible, and start enjoying good health now!