Six essential Superfoods

In the run-up to the launch of his new book, David Grotto, president and founder of consulting firm Nutrition Housecall, tells Yoga Abode about his six favourite Superfoods.

 

I'm a little biased about my favourite ‘Superfoods', though I prefer to call them 'Power House foods'.

david grottoI firmly believe foods have the power to help us live longer and better - especially when they are paired with other lifestyle choices documented to either prevent or control life-threatening conditions.

There is good science that supports this may be the way to go when it comes to improving health - lowering cholesterol, blood pressure, blood glucose.

There are certain foods dear to my heart (both literally and figuratively) - they helped reduce heart-stopping cholesterol by a whopping 70 points in my own life!

Here they are:

Almonds

Why are they a lifesaver?
Almonds are one of the richest food sources of vitamin E, a nutrient thought to be vital for healthy skin, boosting the immune system and reducing the risk of cataracts.

When it comes to fighting heart disease, the almond, more than any other nut, has the most research demonstrating its ability to reduce total and LDL (bad) cholesterol. Though the calories found in almonds are derived mainly from heart healthy monounsaturated fat, research has shown that adding 1-2 handfuls a day may also keep obesity at bay.

How much?
One ounce (about a handful, or 23 almonds) everyday is recommended as part of a diet low in saturated fat.

Serving Tips
Add chopped or slivered almonds to your favourite morning breakfast cereal, spread some almond butter on a hot crumpet, or roast them in the oven, covered with non-stick cooking spray, a little sugar and cinnamon for a sweet and crunchy treat.

 

Oats

Why are they a lifesaver?
Over forty years and over forty clinical studies have demonstrated oat's powerful cholesterol lowering abilities. Oats are also rich in beta glucan, a type of fiber that not only lowers cholesterol but may boost immune function, too.

How much?
¾ cup uncooked or 1 ½ cup cooked old fashioned oats added to the diet provides three grams of soluble fiber, the amount shown to reduce cholesterol an average of twelve points.

Serving Tips
Soak ¾ cup of old fashioned rolled oats overnight in 1 cup of milk or soymilk. Add a dash of cinnamon, an ounce of slivered almonds, 1 teaspoon of honey and two tablespoons of dried cherries for a delicious muesli.

 

Cherries

Why are they a lifesaver?
Tart cherries contain powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins. Emerging evidence is showing that tart cherries may help in many ways from easing the pain of arthritis and gout to reducing risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. Tart cherries are also rich in melatonin, a hormone found to help regulate the body's sleep cycle.
How much?

Experts suggest 1-2 servings of cherries daily may provide many of the health benefits listed above. Two servings is 1/2 cup dried, 1 cup frozen, 1 cup juice or 1 ounce (or 2 Tbsp) juice concentrate.

Serving Tips
Take a bag of frozen cherries, thaw them for a few minutes, and alternate layers of lowfat vanilla yogurt and granola in a parfait glass.

 

Soy

Why is it a lifesaver?
Soy research to date suggests that regular consumption may reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, osteoporosis, certain cancers and may help relieve menopausal symptoms.

How much?
Based on populations who consume soy regularly, a reasonable intake of two to three servings of soyfoods such as tofu, tempeh, miso and soy meat replacers is recommended daily.

Serving Tips
Make a fruit smoothie by blending 1 cup soymilk, 1 cup frozen or fresh berries, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon of honey. Add crushed ice if using fresh berries.

 

Avocado

Why are they a lifesaver?
Avocados are one of the few fruits that are rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. They are also rich in the plant chemical lutein which may help fight eye disorders such as cataracts.

How much?
According to the dietary guidelines for Americans, ½ a medium Hass avocado counts as one fruit and three fat servings.

Serving Tips
Scoop fruit from two Hass Avocados into zip top plastic bag. Add zest and juice from one lime or lemon, 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (try basil, and oregano) and dash of salt. Mash in bag. Cut one end at the bottom of the bag and squeeze onto toasted pita triangles or Melba toast rounds.

 

Beans

Why are they a lifesaver?
Did you know that beans count as a vegetable? In fact, they are the richest source of protein and fiber of any other vegetable on the planet! Beans have been found to be beneficial in fighting heart disease, certain types of cancer and managing weight.

How much?
The recommendation is to eat at least three cups per week.

Serving Tips
Spice up any canned variety of dry beans by adding to it two tablespoons balsamic vinegar, one tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon honey, black pepper and salt to taste. Mix and serve.

 

David Grotto is the author of 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life, published by Bantam on 2nd June 2008.

 

 

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