Monday, August 19, 2013

Reversing Your Diabetes Dietary Guidelines

Do you sincerely believe that your current diabetic drug treatment is actually working? Do you believe the drugs will prevent a heart attack and early death? Just ask yourself: Do you feel any better since you started taking the drugs? Are you taking less drugs since you started?
Drugs prevent you from reversing your diabetes

Surely lowering your blood sugar is an effective strategy for reducing the risk of death and heart disease. It would seem obvious that if diabetes is a disease of high blood sugar, then reducing blood sugar would be beneficial. But, recent studies show that heart disease and deaths are up! Why is that?

Because since elevated blood sugar is only a symptom, and not the cause of the problem, the diabetes continues to progress and spread throughout your body!

You see, the real problem is a lot more than elevated blood sugar. It's a combination of cellular inflammation, excess oxidation, excess toxins, and elevated insulin going unchecked over decades from a highly refined carbohydrate diet, a sedentary lifestyle and environmental toxins. 

Most medications and insulin therapy are aimed at lowering your blood sugar by increasing the production of  insulin, which compounds the problem because most diabetics' bodies are already producing 2 to 4 times the amount of insulin that is really needed!.
Insulin shots prevent the reversal of T2 diabetes

This excess insulin leads to fat storage, elevated blood pressure, and arterial plaque formation, which, in turn, leads to elevated cholesterol levels, heart disease, more heart attacks, more diabetic complications and more early deaths.

Yet we continue to pay $182+ billion annually for this type of care for diabetes, despite the evidence that dietary and lifestyle changes work a lot better than medications! We also pay for cardiac bypass and angioplasty in diabetics when evidence shows there is no reduction in death or heart attacks.

So now that we know what doesn’t work, let's take a look at what does work.

Dietary Recommendations to Reverse Diabetes
Eating in a way that balances your blood sugar, reduces inflammation and oxidative stress, and improves your liver detoxification is the key to preventing and reversing insulin resistance and diabetes.
The DTD Super Meal Diet reverses diabetes

This  way of eating is based on a whole foods and plant-based diet that is high in fiber, rich in colorful fruits and vegetables, and low in sugars and flours, with a low glycemic load, i.e. the Death to Diabetes Super Meal Diet.

This way of eating includes anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and detoxifying foods such as green vegetables, bright-colored vegetables, bright-colored whole fruits, raw green juices, Omega-3 fats, wild salmon, extra virgin olive oil, extra virgin coconut oil, organic macadamia nut oil, beans, nuts, and seeds.

All these foods help prevent and reverse Type 2  diabetes and insulin resistance. This is the way of eating than turns on all the right gene messages, promotes a healthy metabolism, initiates cell repair, and prevents aging and age-related diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

Here are more specifics about this way of eating.

Meal Timing
When you eat and how often you eat are very important for controlling your blood glucose and diabetes during the day:
A blueberry smoothie is great for lunch or breakfast
  • Don't skip breakfast!If you don't have time, prepare a green smoothie with almond milk, filtered water, flaxseed, blueberries, and baby spinach.
  • Eat a balanced meal or snack every 4-5 hours to keep your insulin and glucose levels stabilized.
  • Eat small protein snacks in the morning and afternoon, such as a handful of almonds or walnuts.
  • Drink a cup (8 oz.) of raw green juice 30 minutes before each major meal, if possible.
  • Finish eating at least 2 to 3 hours before bed. If you have a snack earlier in the day, you won’t be as hungry, even if you eat a little later.
  • Note: Make sure that you measure your blood glucose before breakfast and before dinner. Also, perform at least one 2-hour post-meal test (i.e. after dinner). These tests will verify that the program is working.
Balanced meal with vegetables and salmon help reverse diabetes 
Meal Composition
Eating a balanced meal of quality carbs, proteins, and fats is important for controlling the glycemic load of your meals.
  • You can do this by combining high quality proteins, fats, and whole-food carbohydrates from vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and fruit at every meal or snack.
  • It is most important to avoid eating quickly absorbed carbohydrates alone, as they raise your sugar and insulin levels.
  • Avoid foods made with flour, sugar, wheat, gluten, corn syrup, and partially hydrogenated oils. Also, avoid fast foods and processed foods.
    Whole vegetables and fruits help reverse diabetes
Meal Content: What to Eat
Of course, what you eat is very important if you want to have the opportunity of reversing your diabetes. So, choose from a variety of the following real, whole foods and superfoods:
  • Choose organic produce and organic animal products whenever possible. Gradually reduce the amount of meat you eat on a weekly basis.
  • For breakfast, eat carbohydrates such as broccoli or spinach and proteins such as whole omega-3 eggs, canned wild salmon, or a flax (or soy) protein shake.
  • For dinner, eat a vegetable-based meal with lots of vegetables and some lean protein. Avoid the heavy starchy meals with pasta, rice, corn or potatoes.
  • If you want something sweet for a snack, try an apple, a pear or a handful of grapes along with a handful of walnuts to slow down the absorption of the sugar from the fruit. 
  • Eat a cornucopia of fresh fruits and vegetables that contain phytonutrients like carotenoids, flavonoids, and polyphenols, which are associated with a lower incidence of nearly all health problems, including obesity and age-related disease.
    Broccoli reverses diabetes
  • Eat more low-glycemic vegetables, such as asparagus, broccoli, kale, spinach, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts.
  • Create meals that are high in low-glycemic legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, and black beans (try edamame, the Japanese soybeans in a pod, quickly steamed with a little salt, as a snack). These foods slow the release of sugars into the bloodstream, which helps prevent the excess insulin release that can lead to health concerns like obesity, high blood pressure, and heart problems.
  • Focus on anti-inflammatory foods, including wild fish and other sources of omega-3 fats, red and purple berries (these are rich in polyphenols), dark green leafy vegetables, orange sweet potatoes, and nuts.
  • Eat more antioxidant-rich foods, including orange and yellow vegetables, dark green leafy vegetables (kale, collards, spinach, etc.), anthocyanidins (berries, beets, grapes, pomegranate), purple grapes, blueberries, bilberries, cranberries, and cherries. In fact, antioxidants are in all colorful fruits and vegetables.
  • Eat high-quality protein, such as fish – especially fatty, cold-water fish like wild salmon, sable, small halibut, herring, and sardines – and shellfish.Eat up to eight Omega-3 eggs a week.
  • Cold-water fish such as wild salmon, halibut, and sable contain an abundance of beneficial essential fatty acids, omega-3 oils that reduce inflammation. Choose smaller wild Alaskan salmon, sable, and halibut that are low in toxins. Canned wild salmon is a great “emergency” food.
    Bright-colored and dark berries provide antioxidants for diabetes
  • For optimal fruits, eat berries, cherries, peaches, plums, rhubarb, pears, and apples .Cantaloupes and other melons, grapes, and kiwifruit are suitable; however, they contain more sugar. You can use organic frozen berries (such as those from Cascadian Farms) in your protein shakes.
  • Include detoxifying foods in your diet, such as cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, collards, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, bok choy, Chinese cabbage, and Chinese broccoli), green tea, watercress, dandelion greens, cilantro, artichokes, garlic, citrus peels, pomegranate, and even cocoa.
  • Garlic and onions contain antioxidants, enhance detoxification, act as anti-inflammatories, and help lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • A diet high in fiber further helps to stabilize blood sugar by slowing the absorption of carbohydrates and supports a healthy lower bowel and digestive tract. Try to gradually increase fiber to 30 to 50 grams a day and use predominantly soluble or viscous fiber (legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, vegetables, and fruit), which slows sugar absorption from the gut. If you're not getting enough fiber, add freshly ground flaxseed (or flax hulls) to your salad or smoothie.
    Extra virgin olive oil helps reverse diabetes
  • Use extra virgin olive oil, which contains anti-inflammatories and anti-oxidants, as your main cooking oil.
  • Season your food with herbs such as rosemary, ginger, and turmeric, which are powerful antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and detoxifiers.
  • Avoid excessive quantities of meat. Eat lean organic or grass-fed animal products, when possible. These include eggs, beef, chicken, pork, lamb, buffalo, and ostrich. There are good brands at Whole Foods and other local health-food stores (also see mail order sources).
  • Increase your intake of nuts and seeds, including raw walnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, and pumpkin and flax seeds.
  • Soy products such as soy milk, miso, tempeh, and tofu are rich in antioxidants that can reduce cancer risk, lower cholesterol, and improve insulin and blood sugar metabolism.
  • For beverages, drink filtered water, herbal teas, green tea, and raw juices. Avoid soda, diet soda, and bottled fruit juices.
  • And yes -- chocolate can be healthy, too. But, choose only the darkest varieties and eat only 2 to 3 ounces a day. It should contain 70 percent cocoa.
Decrease (or ideally eliminate) your intake of the following foods:
Fast food prevents diabetes reversal
  • All processed foods, fast foods and junk foods
  • Foods containing refined white flour and sugar, such as breads, cereals (cornflakes, Frosted Flakes, puffed wheat, and sweetened granola), flour-based pastas, bagels, and pastries
  • All foods containing high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  • All artificial sweeteners (aspartame, Sorbitol, etc.) and caffeine
  • Starchy, high-glycemic cooked vegetables, such as potatoes, corn, and root vegetables such as rutabagas, parsnips, and turnips
  • Bottled fruit juices, which are often loaded with sugars (Try juicing your own carrots, celery, and beets, or other fruit and vegetable combinations, instead)
  • Processed canned vegetables (usually very high in sodium)
  • Foods containing hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils (which become trans fatty acids in the bloodstream), such as most crackers, chips, cakes, candies, cookies, doughnuts, margarines, and processed cheese
  • Processed oils such as corn, safflower, sunflower, peanut, and canola
  • Red meats (unless organic or grass-fed) and organ meats
  • Large predatory fish and river fish, which contain mercury and other contaminants in unacceptable amounts, including swordfish, tuna, tilefish and shark
  • Dairy (cow's milk, cheese) — substitute unsweetened, gluten free soy milk, almond milk, or hazelnut milk products; soy cheese.
  • Coffee — limit to 1 (decaffeinated) cup (8 oz.) a day.
  • Alcohol — limit it to no more than 3 glasses a week of red wine.
  • Tobacco — avoid at all cost.
Meal Suggestions When Traveling
Two handfuls of almonds and walnuts in a zip-lock bag make a great snack. You can eat them with a piece of whole fruit. Remember, real food is the best.

Balance Blood Sugar with Exercise
Exercise helps to reverse diabetes
Exercise is critical for the improvement of insulin sensitivity. It helps reduce central body fat, improving sugar metabolism. Regular exercise will help prevent diabetes, reduce your risk of complications, and even help reverse it.

Ideally you should do 30 minutes of walking every day. Walking before breakfast and after dinner are two powerful ways to reduce your blood sugar.

More vigorous exercise and sustained exercise is often needed to reverse severe insulin resistance or diabetes. Doing sustained aerobic exercise for up to 45-60 minutes 5 to 6 times a week is often necessary to get diabetes under full control. You want to work at 70 to 85 percent of your target heart rate, which you can find by subtracting your age from 220 and multiplying that number by 0.70 to 0.85.

Interval training can be an added benefit to helping improve your metabolism, mitochondrial function and muscle cell sensitivity. Interval training helps to increase your calorie burning efficiency such that you burn more calories and energy during the time you are not exercising.

Resistance training also helps maintain and build muscle, which can help also with your overall blood sugar and energy metabolism. Resistance training helps to increase the glucose uptake into your muscle cells; and, reduce your insulin resistance.

Supplements that Can Help Reverse Diabetes
Nutritional supplements can be very effective for Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. I recommend a number of different supplements, depending on the severity of the problem:
Supplements can help reverse diabetes
  • A multivitamin and mineral (without additives).
  • Calcium, magnesium and vitamin D3.
  • Omega-3 fish oil (1,000 to 4,000 mg) a day improves insulin sensitivity, lowers cholesterol, and reduces inflammation.
  • Extra magnesium (200 to 600 mg a day) helps with glucose metabolism and is often deficient in diabetics.
  • Chromium (500 to 1,000 mcg day) is very important for proper sugar metabolism.
  • Antioxidants (such as vitamins C and E) are important in helping to reduce and balance blood sugar.
  • B-complex vitamins are important and are part of a good multivitamin. Extra vitamin B6 (50 to 150 mg a day) and B12 (1,000 to 3,000 mcg) are especially helpful in protecting against diabetic neuropathy or nerve damage.
  • Biotin (2,000 to 4,000 mcg a day) enhances insulin sensitivity.
  • Alpha lipoic acid (300 mg twice a day) is a powerful antioxidant that can reduce blood sugar significantly. It also can be effective for diabetic nerve damage or neuropathy.
  • Evening primrose oil (500 to 1,000 mg twice a day) helps diabetics with neuropathy.
  • Use cinnamon as a supplement. One to two 500 mg capsules twice a day can help blood sugar control.
  • Other herbs and supplements that can be helpful include bilberry, green tea, ginseng, bitter melon, gymnema, ginkgo, fenugreek, onions, and garlic.
  • Banana leaf (Lagerstroemia speciosa) can be an effective herb. Take 24 mg twice a day.
  • Use konjac fiber 10 minutes before meals with a glass of water. This helps reduce blood sugar after meals and improves long-term blood sugar control while reducing appetite and cholesterol.
  • Key Point: Make sure that you're eating properly -- don't rely solely on supplements!
Detox
Eat detox foods such as green salads, organic apple cider vinegar and lemons/limes. If necessary, use organic herbs and herbal tinctures to help with your detox.

Stress can inhibit diabetes reversalStress and Emotional Support
Stress plays a dramatic role in blood sugar imbalances. It triggers insulin resistance, promotes weight gain around the middle, increases inflammation, and ultimately can cause diabetes.

Stress can also lead you to making bad decisions when it comes to selecting the right foods to eat.

So it’s essential to engage in relaxation practices on a regular basis, such as yoga, breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, hot baths, exercise, meditation, massage, biofeedback, hypnosis, or even making love. And, don't forget to find a friend or partner to provide emotional support (i.e. encouragement) when you need it. Your survival depends on it.

Summary
By following these guidelines, your Type 2 diabetes is completely preventable and often reversible through aggressive lifestyle changes, supplements, and exercise and stress management.

Diabetes is the biggest health epidemic triggered by the obesity epidemic, but all of our medical efforts to treat it are focused on medications and insulin. It is simply the wrong approach.

If you follow these guidelines instead, you will see a dramatic change very quickly in your health, your weight, and your diabetes.

Note: Refer to the Death to Diabetes website for more detail about these dietary recommendations.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Brain Food

Research is showing that specific foods, including some superfoods, can increase your chances of maintaining a healthy brain well into your old age if you add these"brain" foods to your daily nutritional profile.

Many of these foods have been shown to improve brain function, protect against age-associated cognitive decline and encourage focus and clarity.

High-powered brain foods provide sustained energy, thus they typically include complex carbohydrates, fiber, lean protein, and some healthy fat. Brain foods also power your entire body, including the heart and vascular system, meaning they are low in cholesterol and saturated fat, high in omega-3 fatty acids and minimally processed.

High omega-3 intake increases circulation, which may result in long-term health benefits including lower risk of stroke, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Evidence from recent animal studies suggests that high omega-3 intake may improve recovery from concussions. In short, brain foods not only improve behavior and mood, but can also reduce inflammation and decrease your risk of cancer and heart disease.

Avocados. Avocados are almost as good as blueberries in promoting brain health. Avocado is a fatty fruit, but, it's a monounsaturated fat, which improves vascular health and contributes to healthy blood flow. And healthy blood flow means a healthy brain.

Avocado: Superfood
Avocados also lower blood pressure, and as hypertension is a risk factor for the decline in cognitive abilities, a lower blood pressure should promote brain health. However, since avocados are high in calories, adding just 1/4 to 1/2 of an avocado to one daily meal as a side dish is sufficient.

Beans. Beans stabilize blood glucose levels. The brain is dependent on glucose for fuel, and since it can't store the glucose, it relies on a steady stream of energy -- which beans can provide. Try to eat a 1/2 cup of lentils or black beans every day.

Beets. Beets are a good source of naturally-occurring nitrates, which help improve blood flow to the brain

Blueberries. Animal studies researchers have found that blueberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer's disease or dementia.
Blueberries: Superfood
Studies have also shown that diets rich in blueberries significantly improved both the learning capacity and motor skills of aging rats, making them mentally equivalent to much younger rats. Try adding at least 1 cup of blueberries a day in any form -- fresh, frozen, or freeze-dried.

Animal studies have long indicated a link between berry consumption and brain health. But a recent study published in the Annals of Neurology found that a diet high in blueberries, strawberries and others were linked to a slower mental decline in areas like memory and focus in a large sample of middle-aged women.

Note: Since Vitamin C has long been thought to have the power to increase mental agility, berries and citrus fruits are good sources of Vitamin C.

Broccoli: SuperfoodBroccoli. A great source of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function and improve brainpower.

Chia seeds. Chia seeds are actually a more concentrated source of omega-3 than flax seed. Chia seeds can be ground and used in similar ways as flax seeds (added to smoothies, cereal, yogurt, etc.) or soaked in water or fruit juice to make chia fresca.

These soaked seeds are gelatinous in texture and can be used as a substitute for butter or cream cheese in recipes and as a nutrient-dense additive to salad dressings, sauces, jams, cereals, dips, puddings, or soups.

Dark chocolate. Dark chocolate has powerful antioxidant properties, contains several natural stimulants, including caffeine, which enhance focus and concentration, and stimulates the production of endorphins, which helps improve mood. One-half ounce to 1 ounce a day will provide all the benefits you need.

In addition, dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids, a class of antioxidant that helps to improve blood flow (and thus brain health) by regulating cholesterol and lowering blood pressure. 

Eggs (Organic). Free-range chickens fed diets high in omega-3 fatty acids produce eggs with higher omega-3, consequently improving the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3. In addition, a single egg contains 9 essential amino acids, high quality protein, lutein and zeaxanthin (for your eyes); choline for your brain, nervous and cardiovascular systems; and naturally occurring  B12.

Garlic. Garlic may help stave off some forms of brain cancer, according to research published in Cancer, the medical journal of the American Cancer Society. Investigators found that the organo-sulfur compounds in garlic actually worked to kill glioblastoma cells -- a type of malignant tumor cell. 

Nuts and seeds. Nuts and seeds are good sources of vitamin E, which prevents less cognitive decline as you get older. Add an ounce a day of walnuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, filberts, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flax seed to your daily diet. Or, add unhydrogenated nut butters such as peanut butter, almond butter, and tahini.

Note: Raw is preferable since roasted nuts and seeds are often cooked in unhealthy oils (such as hydrogenated oils).

Note: A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggests that a good intake of vitamin E might help to prevent cognitive decline, particularly in the elderly. Other good sources of vitamin E include leafy green vegetables, asparagus, olives, seeds, eggs, brown rice and whole grains.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil -- Brain Food

Olive Oil. Extra virgin olive oil is a great source of monounsaturated fats, which have been shown to actually slow brain aging.

Pomegranate juice. Pomegranate juice (you can eat the fruit itself but with its many tiny seeds, it's not nearly as convenient) offers potent antioxidant benefits, which protect the brain from the damage of free radicals. "Probably no part of the body is more sensitive to the damage from free radicals as the brain," says board-certified neurologist David Perlmutter, MD, author of The Better Brain Book.

Note: Citrus fruits and colorful vegetables are also high on Dr. Perlmutter's list of "brainy" foods because of their antioxidant properties -- "the more colorful the better," he says. Because pomegranate juice has added sugar (to counteract its natural tartness), you don't want to go overboard. Approximately 2 ounces a day, diluted with spring water or seltzer is sufficient.

Pumpkin seeds. Just a handful of pumpkin seeds a day is all you need to get your recommended daily amount of zinc, vital for enhancing memory and thinking skills.

Bonus: Zinc helps to stimulate the production of testosterone, which is important for a man's virility.

Sardines: SuperfoodSage. Sage has long had a reputation for improving memory and although most studies focus on sage as an essential oil, it could be worth adding fresh sage to your diet.

Sardines. Fatty fish like sardines (and salmon!) are a well-known brain booster, thanks to the omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, which have been linked to lower risk of dementia, improved focus and memory.
Spinach: Superfood

Spinach. Spinach is rich in the antioxidant lutein, which is thought to help protect against cognitive decline, according to researchers from Tufts University. 

Tea. Two to three cups a day of freshly brewed tea -- hot or iced -- contains a modest amount of caffeine which, can boost brain power by enhancing memory, focus, and mood. Tea also has potent antioxidants, especially the class known as catechines, which promotes healthy blood flow. Bottled or powdered teas don't do the trick -- it has to be freshly brewed.

Tomatoes. There is good evidence to suggest that lycopene, a powerful antioxidant found in tomatoes, could help protect against the kind of free radical damage to cells which occurs in the development of dementia, particularly Alzheimer's.

Walnuts: SuperfoodWalnuts. Walnuts are chock-full of heart-healthy and anti-inflammatory nutrients, and are the only good nut source of alpha linolenic acid (ALA). That means they help promote blood flow, which in turn allows for efficient delivery of oxygen to the brain.

And research presented at the 2010 International Conference on Alzheimer's found that mice with the disease who were regularly fed walnuts had improved memory, learning and motor skill coordination.

Water. When a person becomes dehydrated, their brain tissue actually shrinks. And several studies have shown that dehydration can affect cognitive function. Dehydration can impair short-term memory, focus and decision making, according to Psychology Today.

Wheat Germ. Wheat germ is a rich vegetarian source of choline -- a nutrient that is involved in the body's production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that boosts memory, according to Shape. Eggs are another good choline source.  Also, wheat germ contains vitamin E and some omega-3s. Two tablespoons of wheat germ a day should suffice.

Whole grains. Whole grains, such as oatmeal, quinoa, sprouted grain breads, and organic brown rice can reduce the risk for heart disease. Every organ in the body is dependent on blood flow. If you promote cardiovascular health, you're promoting good flow to the organ system, which includes the brain.

Wild salmon. Deep-water fish, such as salmon, are rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, which are essential for brain function. Wild salmon is recommended for its "cleanliness" and the fact that it is in plentiful supply. Omega-3s provide EPA and DHA fats and also contain anti-inflammatory substances.
Wild Salmon -- Brain Food
Good sources of EPA and DHA include other oily fish such as sardines and herring; plus, flaxseed (linseed) oil, pumpkin seeds, walnut oil and soya beans. They are good for healthy brain function, the heart, joints and general well being.

Oily fish contains EPA and DHA in a ready-made form, which enables the body to use it easily. The main sources of oily fish include salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines, pilchards and kippers. Low DHA levels have been linked to a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and memory loss.

Biochemistry: Types of Nutrients that Help the Brain
Brain: Key FunctionsA lot of foods can interact with the brain, but research suggests that four different types of chemicals and nutrients do so in a positive way to improve our memory, attention, focus, speed, flexibility, and creativity.

The four types of chemicals and nutrients are:

Glucose: The brain draws nearly all its energy from glucose. Like a car in need of gas, if you don't pump it full of fats and sugars (which are converted to glucose) it doesn't run. In fact, the brain uses more glucose than any other organ!

Fatty Acids: Specifically, polyunsaturated fatty acids, aka omega-3 and omega-6. These help to strengthen the synapses in your brain related to memory.

Amino Acids: Two amino acids, tryptophan and tyrosine, can get through the blood-brain barrier. Tryptophan, as we all know from Thanksgiving, has a calming effect (which is often exaggerated as a sleep-inducing effect). Tyrosine makes you feel energized. Amino acids come from protein-rich foods and help connect the neurotransmitters which are essential for keeping your brain sharp. These neurotransmitters include: dopamine for proper immune and nervous system function; norepinephrine for alertness and concentration; serotonin for mood, sleep, memory, and learning; and, acetylcholine for storage and recall of memory.

Antioxidants: Antioxidants like you find in tea or vegetables help regulate the oxidative stress that destroys brain cells. The stress is caused when your body is converting glucose to energy and extra oxygen is created called free radicals. Antioxidants block them so your brain doesn't have to work as hard.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Top 10 Superfoods

A superfood is a nutrient-dense powerhouse type of food that contains an diverse array of phytonutrients that provide outstanding nutritional benefits and multiple health benefits.

Unfortunately, the term "superfood" is overused as a marketing tool to convince consumers to buy a specific food or beverage that, in most cases, doesn't provide any health benefits, and, consequently, should not be called a superfood.

Superfoods that are authentic and provide real health benefits tend to be foods that are in the raw form -- not foods that come in a package or a bottle. Authentic superfoods contain powerful phytonutrients including: antioxidants, indoles, lignans, polyphenols, flavonols, carotenoids, anti-inflammatories, fiber, healthy lipids (fats), vitamins, and minerals.

When eaten on a regular basis (primarily in their raw form), these superfoods provide health benefits in the form of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, polyphenols, fiber, and healthy fats. Each of these superfoods offer more nutritional value per serving than most other foods. Plus, most of these foods are inexpensive and readily available in most grocery stores and health food stores. 

Note: For some of the more expensive superfoods, refer to the Death to Diabetes website for a list of websites that provide these superfoods at discount.

Note: While the superfoods listed here offer tremendous benefits, be sure to eat a wide variety of wholesome foods to provide a balance of macronutrients and micronutrients and ensure the best health results.

These superfoods provide key nutrients to the heart, brain, liver, kidneys, blood, and other key organs throughout the body. As a result, these superfoods help to prevent and fight many of the top diseases and illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and chronic fatigue.

Note: This "Top 10" list of superfoods has grown, based on new research and clinical findings.

Almonds and Walnuts
Almonds have been around since Biblical times, and are a staple in the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet. Almonds are rich in vitamin E and contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fats which helps to lower the risk of heart disease. Healthy fats like the ones in almonds help lower LDL cholesterol if they replace saturated or trans fats in the diet.

Almonds: SuperfoodA quarter-cup of almonds also contains more protein than an egg. They’re also packed with magnesium, which helps boost production of the brain chemical dopamine — good for regulating mood and preventing depression.

In addition, almonds also contain fiber, riboflavin, and calcium. And, because of its fiber content, almonds, along with other high-fiber foods, may play a role in improving stomach problems, like irritable bowel disorders and diarrhea, and boosting calcium absorption.

The American Heart Association recommends eating a handful of nuts as one serving at least four times per week.

Researchers at Loma Linda University found that adding two 1-ounce servings of almonds daily to study participants’ diets helped them to achieve a better intake of key nutrients and helped them to lower their intake of dietary detractors like trans fats, excessive sodium, sugars and cholesterol. Eating nuts may help protect against heart disease and inflammation, and research on walnuts showed that enjoying as little as eight to 11 walnuts daily reduced total cholesterol by up to 4 percent.

Note: Just be sure you avoid making the mistake of consuming nuts that are heated commercially as the fats they contain are perishable and will be damaged when they go through this type of processing. A new 21st century concern is pasteurization.  For the last four years, nearly all commercial vendors of almonds are required to pasteurize them before sale.

Where to get them: Anywhere nuts are sold. If they don’t have it in your local market, Trader Joe’s has a wide selection. Many farmer’s markets feature a nut seller, who will be happy to answer your questions about the nutritional value of almonds, as well as offer samples.

Added bonus: Whether you’re craving salty or sweet, almonds make the perfect snack food. The roasted nuts come in a variety of flavors, like wasabi, BBQ, vanilla or cinnamon. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, swap out your peanut butter for almond butter. Mild and versatile, these nuts work well in sweet and savory dishes.

Walnuts: SuperfoodWalnuts happen to be high in omega-3s, which research indicates can reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure and even depression. A daily handful of walnuts — which contains about 200 calories — is literally a generous handful of health.
Walnuts: Superfood

Eat walnuts as a snack or incorporate them into your favorite recipes — adding chopped walnuts to any dish will lend a delectable crunch and nutty flavor.

Walnuts are packed with tryptophan, an amino acid your body needs to create the feel-great chemical serotonin. (In fact, Spanish researchers found that walnut eaters have higher levels of this natural mood-regulator.) They're digested slowly, which contributes to mood stability and can help you tolerate stress.

If you use walnuts as a pre-walk snack or add them to your favorite oatmeal cookie recipe, you may enjoy even greater cholesterol-lowering benefit. Walnuts are a rich source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, as well as a compound called ellagic acid that has been shown to reduce artery-forming plaque. Nuts are a truly heart healthy snack, topping or addition to any meal.

Note: Nearly all nuts can be considered superfoods due to their heart-healthy unsaturated fats and other phytonutrients.

Artichokes
Artichokes: SuperfoodIf you've been huffing and puffing up the stairs, try these spiky-leafed vegetables.

They're loaded with magnesium, a mineral vital for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body—including generating energy, says Forrest Nielsen, PhD, a U.S. Department of Agriculture research nutritionist. "If you're not getting enough magnesium, your muscles have to work harder to react and you tire more quickly."

About 68% of us aren't getting enough of this mineral. For women, the goal is 320 milligrams (mg) per day. One medium artichoke provides 77 mg of magnesium (and just 60 calories!). Other top sources include nuts, legumes, and whole grains.

Asparagus
Asparagus: SuperfoodThese spears are one of the best veggie sources of folate, a B vitamin that could help keep you out of a slump. "Folate is important for the synthesis of the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine," says David Mischoulon, MD, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School. All of these are crucial for mood.

A cup of cooked asparagus has 268 micrograms (mcg)—two-thirds of the 400 mcg RDA for women. Add a cup of enriched pasta—which is fortified with folic acid, the synthetic form of folate—and you'll have a feel-good meal indeed.

Avocado
Avocado: SuperfoodAvocados are high in healthy monounsaturated fat and have a rich source of glutathione – a powerful antioxidant known to block over 30 different carcinogens (a substance capable of causing cancer in living tissue).

Avocados are also one of the most nutrient-dense foods; high in fiber, potassium, vitamin E, and magnesium.

Also, if you’re looking to banish wrinkles then stock up as they are packed with antioxidants and good fats, which help in your fight against the frown.

Avocados are an excellent source of healthful raw fat, which most Americans are seriously deficient in. They also provide close to 20 essential health-boosting nutrients, including: Fiber, Potassium (more than twice the amount found in a banana), Vitamin E, B-vitamins, and Folic acid
             
In addition, avocados enable your body to more efficiently absorb fat-soluble nutrients, such as alpha- and beta-carotene and lutein, in other foods eaten in conjunction.

Black Beans and Other Beans
Beans hit it out of the ballpark when it comes to nutrition. They’re loaded with the essential minerals, folate, magnesium and iron. Beans are the only food that crosses two categories on the food pyramid, Bazilian says. They’re both a complex carbohydrate and a protein source.

Beans: SuperfoodAll types of beans (kidney, chickpeas, soybeans, dried peas and lentils) are low in fat and have anti-ageing properties but these small red beans have one of the highest antioxidant ratings among superfoods. Typically used in Japanese cooking adzuki beans are a good source of carbohydrates, folate, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, manganese and zinc.

Beans are a fabulous source of vegetarian protein and fiber, two nutrients that help you stay full and satisfied. The protein and fiber in beans also tempers the rise in blood sugar that occurs after a meal, which can help stabilize mood. The fiber in beans also helps keep you regular (every half cup serving adds another 7 g of fiber to you daily total) Beans are low in fat and a good source of magnesium and potassium, nutrients that work together to lower blood pressure and keep your heart and blood vessels healthy.

However, beans are not a perfect protein because they lack some essential amino acids. However, adding an organic whole grain (such as quinoa or amaranth) fixes this problem, especially for vegans.


Added bean bonus: They're inexpensive! So stock up on canned, no-salt added varieties and add them to soups, salads, stews, and more!

People who regularly consume beans have better weight management and blood sugar regulation because of their soluble fiber. Black beans, in particular, have three times the amount of omega-3 fats than other beans, and their dark skin contains cancer-fighting chemicals called flavonoids.

A cup of black beans packs 15 grams of protein, with none of the artery-clogging saturated fat found in meat. Plus, they're full of heart-healthy fiber, antioxidants, and energy-boosting iron. 

Note: If you’re wary of the fiber content, you can avoid digestive distress by easing beans into your diet slowly. Eat no more than half a cup at a time.

Where to get them: Canned beans are, by far, the most convenient – and they’re relatively cheap at 80 cents a can. But with a little planning, dried beans can save you even more money and aren’t too labor-intensive. Simply cover dried beans with water in a large bowl, let sit overnight with a bay leaf or two, drain, and voila! Your fresh beans are ready to cook.

Tip: Use half beans and half turkey to make chili, or adding beans to lean ground beef for sloppy Joes.

Blueberries and Other Berries
Blueberries are considered to be a nutrient-rich food. Eating blueberries will provide you with antioxidants, phytonutrients and fiber. According to the MayoClinic.com, eating blueberries will help you age in a healthy way and prevent chronic diseases. Blueberries, which are low in calories, can be easily snacked on, added to cereals, and baked into breads and sweets.

Blueberries: SuperfoodDid you know that much of the power of blueberries lies in their color? That deep-blue hue is a by-product of flavonoids — natural compounds that protect the brain's memory-carrying cells (neurons) from the damaging effects of oxidation and inflammation. Since blueberries are one of the best sources of flavonoids you can find, it's no surprise that this superfood has been shown to help preserve memory function.

Blueberries, like other berries, also have a high water content, which makes them hydrating for your skin and other cells of the body.

Açai Berries: This exotic berry from Amazon was named by nutritionist Nicholas Perricone as one of the greatest foods in the world. They are packed full of antioxidants which can help combat premature aging and contain something called monounsaturated oleic acid, which helps omega-3 fish oils penetrate the cell membrane. There’s also amino acids and essential fatty acids, to help promote cardiovascular and digestive health.

Goji Berries: Also known as wolfberries, this Himalayan fruit contains all 18 amino acids (six times higher than bee pollen) as well as huge amounts of vitamin A, B1, B2, B6 and vitamin E. Gram for gram they are packed with more iron than steak and spinach, and more beta carotene and vitamin C than carrots and oranges, respectively.

Strawberries: They may not have the smoothest complexion themselves, but strawberries can get you one. They're loaded with antioxidants that help your skin repair damage caused by environmental factors like pollution and UV rays. Plus, they're packed with vitamin C (less than a cup gets you your entire 75 mg RDA)—the vitamin associated with fewer wrinkles and less dryness, per research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
                                                 
Broccoli
Low in calories (about 30 calories per cup) and high in health-promoting polyphenols, broccoli is considered one of the most potent nutrient-dense superfoods. Broccoli is rich in fiber, folate, phytonutrients, vitamin C and vitamin A. Regularly eating broccoli can help prevent heart disease, diabetes, cell damage, worsening eye sight and some forms of cancer. These berries are full of phytonutrients that neutralize free radicals (agents that cause aging and cell damage). The antioxidants in these berries may also protect against cancer and reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer's disease or dementia.

Broccoli: SuperfoodPacked with folic acid, vitamin C and carotenoids (the colourful plant pigments some of which the body can turn into vitamin A), broccoli is thought to boost your immune system, protect your cells from being damaged by free radicals and improve reproductive health. Broccoli also contains beta carotene, energy producing vitamins B3 and B5, potassium and chromium , which help regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

Cruciferous vegetables contain indole alkaloids that may suppress the growth of tumors and help prevent cancer. They are also high in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Plus, foods from the cruciferous and cabbage family (including broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, collards and turnips) may help bolster memory as you age. Researchers at Harvard Medical School found that women who eat the most of these foods are the least likely to be forgetful.

Cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts pack a serious punch against cancer.
That’s one reason why Joel Fuhrman, M.D., author of Eat for Health (Gift of Health Press) and Eat to Live (Little, Brown and Company), recommends eating foods from that family every day.

In lab studies, sulforaphane, a chemical found in broccoli and its cousins, actually made cancer cells like leukemia and melanoma self-destruct. A 2007 Chinese study found that the compound may slow down the spread of breast cancer.

Where to get it: Frozen or fresh, broccoli is easy to come by year-round. To get the most out of your super veggie, try to eat it raw or lightly steamed — cooking kills off most of its vitamin C.

Broccoli can be easily eaten raw as a snack, added to stir fries, pasta dishes and fajitas, or it can be steamed and eaten as a side dish with meals. The fiber in broccoli will help you remain full longer and keep your energy levels high.

Studies have shown that broccoli can combat cancer and heart disease, ward off cataracts, boost the immune system and reduce the risk of birth defects. Broccoli can be eaten raw, lightly steamed or stir-fried — be sure to cook until just crisp tender to avoid dampening broccoli's nutritional power. Include chopped broccoli in grain dishes, salads or as part of omelets or quiche.

Note: If you don't like broccoli, try cauliflower instead.                                                                                

Eggs (Organic)
Eggs received a bad rap because of the phobia tied to high cholesterol. But, the egg is a true superfood because it is an amazing source of high-quality nutrients that many people are deficient in, especially high-quality protein and fat.

Eggs: SuperfoodA single egg contains:9 essential amino acids, high quality protein, lutein and zeaxanthin (for your eyes); choline for your brain, nervous and cardiovascular systems; and naturally occurring  B12.

Proteins are nutrients that are essential to the building, maintenance and repair of your body tissues such as your skin, internal organs and muscles. They are also the major components of your immune system and hormones

Note: Ideally, you'll want to eat the whole egg, especially the yolk where most of the key nutrients reside. If possible, eat your eggs raw, or as close to raw as possible, such as soft-boiled or poached.

Note: If you choose to use egg whites, please don't eat them raw unless you also consume the egg yolks, otherwise you risk developing a biotin deficiency.

Flaxseed
Flaxseed, also known as linseed, is one of the ancient cultivated crops since Mesopotamian times, grown for its oil seeds, and fiber. The chewy seeds are packed with full of nutrients, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, minerals, and essential vitamins.

Flaxseed: SuperfoodFlaseed is an excellent source of vitamin E, especially rich in gamma-tocopherol; containing about 20 g (133% of daily-recommended values) per 100 g. vitamin E is a powerful lipid soluble antioxidant, required for maintaining the integrity of cell membrane of mucus membranes and skin by protecting it from harmful oxygen-free radicals.

The seeds are packed with many important B-complex groups of vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, and folates. Thiamin is an essential co-factor for carbohydrate metabolism and helps prevent beri-beri disease. Folates help prevent neural tube defects in the fetus when consumed during pre-conception period and pregnancy.

Furthermore, flax seed is rich source of minerals like manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium.

Flaxseed delivers the full benefits of Omega-3 EFA (alpha linolenic acid), the Omega-6 and Omega-9 EFAs, plus all of the fiber, protein, lignans, vitamins, minerals and amino acids, to help control blood glucose levels, appetite, and cravings.

Lignans are a type of natural plant chemical contained within the cell matrix of the flaxseed that act as plant hormones. When bacteria in the digestive tract act on plant lignans, these compounds are converted into potent, hormone-like substances, known as phytoestrogens. Research findings have concluded that the chemical release of these phytoestrogens is able to block the action of certain cancer-causing substances associated with breast, colon and prostate cancers.

Researchers believe these plant hormones mimic the body’s own estrogen type of cells and can block the formation of hormone-based tumors or growths. Unlike the hormones produced in the body, these plant hormones do not stimulate cancerous cells to grow. In fact, lignans boost production of a substance that fastens onto human estrogen and carries it out of the body. Lignans are also considered to be antioxidants; therefore, researchers believe they can protect healthy cells from free radical oxidative damage.
                             
Garlic
Garlic tops the National Cancer Institute’s list as a potential cancer-preventive food.

It is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory food that protects against heart disease, reduces blood pressure and lowers cholesterol levels. It also has vitamins C and B6, manganese, and selenium.

Olive Oil (Extra Virgin)
Anyone familiar with the Mediterranean diet is aware of the nutrient power of extra virgin olive oil and its health benefits, as well as the wonderful flavor of a good dose of olive oil on salads, fish, pasta and almost anything else.

Statistics have shown that Mediterranean populations such as Spain, Italy & Greece, have significantly lower rates of coronary heart disease (CHD) than that seen throughout the rest of the world. 

Extra Virgin Olive Oil: SuperfoodThe quality of olive oil production - especially the stage of pressing - really does make a difference when it comes to health benefits. Recent studies have compared the anti-inflammatory benefits of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) obtained from the first pressing of the oil to the anti-inflammatory benefits of virgin olive oils (non-EVOO) obtained from later pressings.

Health benefits of extra virgin olive oil include the following:

A reduction in inflammation markers was identified by researchers that EVOO  lowered the inflammatory markers in the blood when non-EVOOs were unable to do so. (Study measurements included blood levels of thromboxane A2, or TXA2, and leukotriene B2, or LBT2.)

This ability of extra virgin olive oil to help protect against unwanted inflammation is not surprising, since EVOO is known to contain stronger concentrations of phytonutrients (especially polyphenols) that have well-known anti-inflammatory properties. 

Research has documented a wide variety of anti-inflammatory mechanisms used by olive oil polyphenols to lower our risk of inflammatory problems. These mechanisms include decreased production of messaging molecules that would otherwise increase inflammation (including TNF-alpha, interleukin 1-beta, thromboxane B2, and leukotriene B4); inhibition of pro-inflammatory enzymes like cyclo-oxygenase 1 and cyclo-oxygenase 2; and decreased synthesis of the enzyme inducible nitric oxide synthase.

In heart patients, olive oil and its polyphenols have also been determined to lower blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a widely used blood measurement for assessing the likelihood of unwanted inflammation. They have also been found to reduce activity in a metabolic pathway called the arachidonic acid pathway, which is central for mobilizing inflammatory processes.

Heart disease reduction has been identified in numerous studies of the Mediterranean Diet that olive oil intake contributed to a decreased risk of heart disease. However, a recent group of studies has provided us with a fascinating explanation of olive oil's cardioprotective effect. One of the key polyphenols in olive oil - hydroxytyrosol (HT) - helps protect the cells that line our blood vessels from being damaged by overly reactive oxygen molecules.

Recent research studies have taken these heart-healthy effects of olive oil one step further. Olive oil's monounsaturated fat content (specifically, its high level of oleic acid) has now been determined to be a mechanism linking olive oil intake to decreased blood pressure. Researchers believe that the plentiful amount of oleic acid in olive oil gets absorbed into the body, finds its way into cell membranes, changes signaling patterns at a cell membrane level (specifically, altering G-protein associated cascades) and thereby lowers blood pressure.

To our knowledge, this is the first time that the monounsaturated fat content of olive oil has been linked not only to cholesterol reduction, but also to reduction of blood pressure.

Anti-clotting benefits have been demonstrated by various laboratory studies have also found that 2-(3,4-di-hydroxyphenyl)-ethanol (DHPE), a phenol component of extra-virgin olive oil with potent antioxidant properties, is able to inhibit platelet aggregation (blood clotting) more effectively that other flavonoids. The phenol enriched portion of olive oil also demonstrated similar activity. 
 
This is important because heart attacks and strokes are caused by blood clots which build up in the arteries of the heart or brain which have been narrowed due to atherosclerotic plaque formation. The ability to form normal blood clots to physical trauma is of course necessary to prevent hemorrhage (uncontrolled bleeding), however the degree of blood clot inhibition which would occur due to olive oil consumption would not be so severe that it would be dangerous at all.

Cancer prevention has been one of the most active areas of olive oil research, and the jury is no longer out on the health benefits of olive oil with respect to cancer. Twenty-five studies on olive oil intake and cancer risk - including most of the large-scale human studies conducted up through the year 2010 - have recently been analyzed by a team of researchers at the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research Institute in Milan, Italy.

Firmly established by this research team were the risk-reducing effects of olive oil intake with respect to cancers of the breast, respiratory tract, upper digestive tract and, to a lesser extent, lower digestive tract (colorectal cancers). These anti-cancer benefits of olive oil became most evident when the diets of routine olive oil users were compared with the diets of individuals who seldom used olive oil and instead consumed diets high in saturated added fat, especially butter.

Digestive health benefits of olive oil for the digestive tract were first uncovered in research on diet and cancers of the digestive tract. Numerous studies found lower rates of digestive tract cancers - especially cancers of the upper digestive tract, including the stomach and small intestine - in populations that regularly consumed olive oil.  

Recent research has provided us with even more information, however, about olive oil, its polyphenols, and protection of the digestive tract. One fascinating area of recent research has involved the polyphenols in olive oil and the balance of bacteria in our digestive tract. Numerous polyphenols in olive oil have been shown to slow the growth of unwanted bacteria, including bacteria commonly responsible for digestive tract infections.

Improved cognitive function - especially among older adults - is a well-known feature of the Mediterranean Diet. As the staple oil in that diet, olive oil has been of special interest for researchers interested in diet and cognitive function. In France, a recent study large-scale study on older adults has shown that visual memory and verbal fluency can be improved with what the researchers called "intensive use" of olive oil. In this case, "intensive use" meant regular use of olive oil not just for cooking, or as an ingredient in sauces and dressings, but in all of these circumstances.

Note: When you savor the peppery zing of extra-virgin olive oil, you’re tasting powerful antioxidants. The phytonutrients that bring the bite also have an anti-inflammatory effect on your body. That helps protect and repair the cardiovascular system, which constant fluctuations in blood sugar can damage. Olive oil is also incredibly versatile. It's appropriate for anything from salads to sautés. Best of all, it slows absorption of the carbohydrates it's paired with for a healthier glycemic load overall.

Note: For more information about the benefits of extra virgin olive oil, visit the Death to Diabetes website.
 
Raw Vegetable Juice
Raw vegetable juice provides key vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes, and other phytonutrients that help to prevent and reverse various diseases, especially heart disease, cancer,  Type 2 diabetes, and obesity. 
Raw Vegetable Juice: Superfood

 Scientist says that when you drink juice, the nutrients enter your bloodstream within 30 minutes, so you get the healthy benefits from fresh vegetables almost immediately.

Also, raw vegetable juice is easy on your digestive tract because the juicer removes the fiber, making it easier for your body to assimilate the nutrients from the raw vegetable juice. The enzymes in raw juice increases metabolism, so you will feel energized. Also, when your metabolism is higher, it’s easier to drop those unwanted pounds.
Raw Green Vegetable Juice: Superfood

Since raw vegetable juice contains chlorophyll, this helps to strengthen your body through cellular cleansing. Chlorophyll assists the liver with detoxifying, it rebuilds blood cells, removes parasites and exotoxins, eliminates mold, and assists your body in preventing and eliminating cancer cells. It also assists your body by helping to stabilize your blood glucose level.

Note: For more information about raw juice, refer to the Death to Diabetes website or the Power of Raw Juicing ebook.

Note: Since bottled vegetable juices at health food stores are pasteurized,  these bottled juices provide very little if any health benefits.

Sardines
Sardines get a bad rap. But before you toss this one back to sea, know this: These guys taste like tuna, are less fishy than caviar and come already de-headed – so they won’t stare back when you peel open a can.

Why it's a good food for women: Sardines are a cheap and convenient way to fill up on fish oil, vitamin D and calcium all at once, says Janis Jibrin, M.S., R.D., co-author of The Best Life Guide to Managing Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes (Simon & Schuster).

"Just one can of bone-in sardines covers 125% of your vitamin D needs, 35% of your calcium and 88% of your daily selenium requirement,” she says.

Selenium, an antioxidant, helps keep the immune system fighting fit and protects our cells from damage.

Where to get it: For the healthiest catch, choose water-packed sardines without added salt. - See more at: http://www.lifescript.com/health/centers/cancer/articles/10_foods_women_should_eat.aspx#sthash.5DeKwAxl.dpuf
Sardines get a bad rap. But, they provide many health benefits to the heart and the brain. Sardines and other small, fatty fish are high in essential omega-3 fatty acids that our bodies can only get from the food we eat.
Sardines: Superfood

As a result, sardines and other omega-3-rich fish help in a couple of ways: They're a great source of fat and protein to slow absorption of blood sugars, and they help protect your cardiovascular system, which irregular blood sugar fluctuations that can come with diabetes can damage.

The healthy fat in sardines is good for your brain, too, and may help fend off Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Also, sardines contain selenium, an antioxidant which helps keep the immune system fighting fit and protects our cells from damage.

Why it's a good food for women: Sardines are a cheap and convenient way to fill up on fish oil, vitamin D and calcium all at once. Just one can of bone-in sardines covers 125% of your vitamin D needs, 35% of your calcium and 88% of your daily selenium requirement.

Where to get it: For the healthiest catch, choose water-packed sardines without added salt.

Seaweed
There are many types of seaweed, which is a super food has been used traditionally in Asian diets. Seaweed is low in calories, but high in nutrients. According to the Planet Green website, seaweed provides a number of benefits such as alkalizing your blood, promoting weight loss, deterring the formation of cellulite and providing protection from different environmental toxins.

Seaweed is commonly used in sushi, but it can also be used as a baked snack, as a seasoning, and as an added vegetable in soups and stir fries.

Spinach
Spinach: SuperfoodSpinach is filled with antioxidants, including vitamin C and beta-carotene, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin — a duo that acts like sunscreen for your eyes and guards against macular degeneration.

One cup of fresh spinach leaves also provides almost double the daily requirement for vitamin K, which plays an important role in cardiovascular and bone health.

And of course you can't forget that spinach is a great vegetarian source of iron, which keeps your hair and nails strong and healthy. Use fresh spinach leaves as a base for salad or sauté it and add to an omelet.

Researchers in Sweden recently identified another way in which these greens might keep you charged: Compounds found in spinach actually increase the efficiency of our mitochondria, the energy-producing factories inside our cells. That means eating a cup of cooked spinach a day may give you more lasting power on the elliptical machine (or in your daily sprint to catch the bus).                                         

Wild Salmon
Salmon contain a rich supply of omega-3 fats which contribute to overall health by protecting against heart disease and some cancers. Additionally, omega-3 fats fight inflammatory conditions and depression. Wild Alaskan salmon is noted to be the best variety for its nutritional benefits.
Wild Salmon: Superfood

Salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids, which the body cannot produce by itself. These fatty acids reduce inflammation, improve circulation, increase the ratio of good to bad cholesterol, and may slash cancer risk. Salmon is a rich source of selenium, which helps prevent cell damage, and several B vitamins.

Wild Alaskan salmon is the best wild salmon, as long as its purity can be verified. Wild Alaskan salmon  is an excellent source of: Essential animal-based omega-3 fats (EPA and DHA), Astaxanthin and other antioxidants, and High-quality protein.

Oily fish (such as salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines, pilchards, kippers and fresh tuna (not canned))  is important because it’s rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which are especially useful in warding off heart disease. Most oily fish contains protein, zinc, selenium, vitamins A and D, and some B vitamins. Omega 3-rich seafood might help slow down macular degeneration (a common cause of age-related blindness), protect against the build up of cholesterol on the artery walls which can cause heart damage, and help reduce the impact of arthritis.

Bonus: There's wrinkle prevention on your plate: "Salmon is rich in a fatty acid called eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), a type of omega-3 that naturally helps block the release of UV-induced enzymes that diminish collagen, causing lines and sagging skin," says Ariel Ostad, MD, a dermatologist in New York City. Omega-3s also regulate oil production in the skin and boost hydration, which helps keep your complexion dewy and acne-free.

Also, the fish's omega-3 fatty acids could help you fight flab more effectively. They alter the expression of certain genes, shifting your body to burn fat rather than store it.

Proof: In a study analyzing the diets of 35,000 women, published in Public Health Nutrition, those subjects who ate oily fish such as salmon two to four times per week had the lowest basal metabolic indexes, a common measure of body fat.
                                          
Yogurt (Organic)
Eating yogurt (or kefir) made from grass-fed raw milk is an excellent way to boost your immunity and increase your daily energy. Lowfat and nonfat Greek and regular yogurts contain 20 percent or more of your daily calcium needs. The mineral slows production of cortisol, a hormone that encourages belly-flab buildup.
Yogurt: Superfood

Kefir is a traditionally fermented food that is chockfull of healthful bacteria (probiotics). In ancient times, food preservation was accomplished through lacto-fermentation, a process that adds a host of beneficial micro-organisms to food. This makes them easier to digest, and increases the healthy flora in your intestinal tract.

The importance of maintaining healthy balanced gut flora simply cannot be overstated. Far from simply helping your body to better digest and assimilate your food (which they do very well), probiotics influence the activity of hundreds of your genes, helping them to express in a positive, disease-fighting manner.

Friendly bacteria also train your immune system to distinguish between pathogens and non-harmful antigens, and to respond appropriately. This important function prevents your immune system from overreacting to non-harmful antigens, which is the genesis of allergies.

Probiotics can even help to normalize your weight, and lack of beneficial bacteria in your gut may play a significant role in the development of type 2 diabetes, depression and other mood disorders, and may even contribute to autism and vaccine-induced damage.

Note: Please beware that pasteurized products will not provide you with these health benefits, as the pasteurization process destroys most of the precious enzymes and other nutrients.
                                                 
Other Super Foods

Here are some other super foods that contain key phytonutrients that provide multiple health benefits.

Apples
This fruit's 4 to 5 grams of fiber not only are filling but also help ferry out some of the fat and calories you take in from other foods.

The  proof: People who ate an apple 15 minutes before lunching on cheese tortellini consumed 187 fewer calories in total than those who snacked on nothing beforehand, a study from Penn State University in University Park determines. How about them apples?

Beets
Don’t let the color scare you: These crimson root vegetables are sweet, rich and buttery. And the nutritional value these red devils pack is so great, you should get to know them better.

Why it's a good food for women: A 2008 American Heart Association study reported that beet (otherwise known as beetroot) juice is a superstar at bringing blood pressure down.

Even if you don’t feel like you’re at risk for high blood pressure, you will be. One in three Americans has hypertension and 90% will get it in their lifetime. High blood pressure can damage your arteries, which can lead to plaque buildup, heart disease, blood clots and strokes.

According to Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., author of The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth (Fair Winds Press), beets are loaded with potassium, which counteract the effects of our salt-heavy diet. They’re also high in folate, which we need to manufacture new cells and prevent DNA damage (a precursor to cancer).

Beet juice may also boost workout stamina by 16%, making exercise feel less tiring so you can go for longer, according to a 2009 English study.

The chemicals in beets also show great promise in combating cancer and inflammation.

Bell Peppers
A little known fact: one red bell pepper has twice as much vitamin C as an orange. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps clear your body of free radicals and keeps your skin and blood vessels healthy and strong. The vitamin C in bell peppers may also help prevent arthritis or slow the progression of the disease. Red bell peppers also deliver beta-carotene and lycopene, two more antioxidants that have been associated with decreased risk of eye diseases like cataracts. And, thanks to their high water content, bell peppers of all colors are a high-volume, low-cal food that's very figure-friendly. 

Cherries (Tart )
Don’t confuse tart cherries with the sweet black cherries usually found in the supermarket produce aisle. This fruit is most often used in baking and comes frozen, canned or as juice.

Why it's a good food for women: Tart cherries are anti-inflammatory superstars and may be great for managing pain.

“They’ve long been used to treat arthritis and gout symptoms,” says Bazilian. Research in animals and humans suggests they can help relieve arthritis and post-workout muscle soreness, lower cholesterol and possibly even reduce body fat, according to a 2009 University of Michigan study.

Where to get it: Your cheapest bet: Buy them canned, for about $2.50 each, in the baking aisle. Tart cherries have the same zippy flavor as cranberries and taste good in smoothies or mixed with other fruits. 

Chia SeedsChia Seeds
High in protein and loaded with fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, chia seeds are a nutritional powerhouse. The flour made from these nutty-tasting seeds is a great addition to a diabetes-friendly kitchen. “It actually lowers blood sugar due to the fiber and omega-3 fatty acid content,” says Amy Jamieson-Petonic, RD, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and director of coaching at Cleveland Clinic. 

There's some evidence that chia seeds help reduce belly fat -- the kind that contributes to insulin resistance. Substitute a quarter of your regular flour with chia flour (and experiment with higher ratios) in just about any baked good. Order the flour online, find it at health-food stores, or grind chia seeds in a food processor.

Cinnamon Cinnamon
The bark of Cinnamomum trees contains phytochemicals that enhance insulin signaling and facilitate glucose uptake and storage by the body’s cells. Studies have shown that as little as a teaspoon of cinnamon a day may significantly decrease fasting blood glucose levels and increase insulin sensitivity. There are lots of ways to add more cinnamon to your diet. Sprinkle some in your tea, stir it into your morning oatmeal, or add it to rubs for chicken or fish.

Note: The two major types of cinnamon used in food preparation are Ceylon cinnamon and Cassia cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum or Cinnamomum zeylanicum), native to Sri Lanka, is also known as “true cinnamon.” This is NOT the predominant spice typically sold as cinnamon in the United States. What is commonly found at your grocer is a closely related and less expensive variety called Cassia cinnamon. Cassia is native to Burma and also grown in China and Vietnam. Cassia is slightly darker in color compared to Ceylon, and has a stronger, more pungent flavor. While both Cassia and Ceylon are derived from the inner bark of Cinnamomum trees, Ceylon cinnamon is preferable. Ceylon cinnamon is considered a finer quality spice due to its sweeter, more delicate and complex flavor.

In addition to flavor, a critical difference between Ceylon and Cassia is the coumarin content of Cassia. Cassia cinnamon is the main source of coumarin in the human diet. Coumarin is a naturally occurring toxin which has the potential to damage the liver in high doses. Cassia contains high levels of coumarin, whereas Ceylon contains either undetectable levels or only traces of coumarin. Coumarin can cause liver toxicity in several species, and was found to be carcinogenic in rodents.

Citrus Fruit
Citrus fruit such as grapefruit, oranges, lemons and limes provide soluble fiber and vitamin C. The white part right underneath the skin contains hesperdin, a flavanone glycoside that fights cancer. Specifically, the limonoid compounds in limes have been shown to prevent cancers of the colon, stomach and blood. Though the exact mechanism is unknown, scientists have observed that antioxidant limonoids also cause cancer cell death. Lime limonoids also stay active longer in your bloodstream, mopping more free radicals than green tea or dark chocolate.

Note: Citric acid is a natural inhibitor of kidney stones made of crystallized calcium. Go for fresh lime juice squeezed into water, as opposed to commercial limeades, for maximal benefits.

Coconut Oil (Organic)
Half of the fat content in coconut oil is lauric acid—a fat rarely found in nature—that could easily qualify as a "miracle" ingredient because of its unique health promoting properties. Your body converts lauric acid into monolaurin, which has anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-protozoa properties.

Additionally, the naturally occurring saturated fat found in coconut oil also has some amazing health benefits, such as: Promoting heart health, Supporting immune system health, Providing you with an immediate energy source, Promoting weight loss, Supporting a healthy metabolism , andSupporting the proper functioning of your thyroid gland

Your body sends medium-chain fatty acids directly to your liver to use as energy. This makes coconut oil a powerful source of instant energy to your body, a function usually served in the diet by simple carbohydrates.  Additionally, research has demonstrated that, due to its metabolic effect, coconut oil also increases the activity of your thyroid. And you've probably heard that a sluggish thyroid is one reason why some people are unable to lose weight, no matter what they do…

Perhaps one of the most interesting benefits of coconut oil is its potential to ward off, or perhaps even treat, dementia. According to research by Dr. Mary Newport, ketone bodies—an alternative fuel for your brain which your body makes when digesting coconut oil—may offer profound benefits in the fight against Alzheimer's disease.

Coconut oil is the ideal choice for all types of cooking. In fact, it's the only oil stable enough to resist mild heat-induced damage. So, whenever you need an oil to cook or bake with, use coconut oil instead of butter, olive oil, vegetable oil, margarine, or any other type of oil called for in recipes. And, if you must fry, by all means use coconut oil -- it's your smartest choice.

Dark Chocolate
Believe it or not, chocolate is a healthy treat, as long as you choose wisely. Dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids, antioxidants that have been shown to lower blood pressure, improve blood flow, and boost overall heart health. Choose chocolate that is at least 70 percent cacao or cocoa to optimize the antioxidant power and health benefits.

Dark chocolate may even boost your mood. While there's no scientific explanation for why, the rich taste and sensuous mouth-feel of a decadent piece of dark chocolate may be to thank. Just be sure to keep your portions in check — one ounce of dark chocolate has about 150 calories.

Very high on the happiness quotient, which alone is thought to add years to your life. Also contains flavonols, which are potent antioxidants.

Grapes (Dark Purple, Red)
Grapes provide vitamin C, vitamin B1 and vitamin B6, but mostly provide pleasure in their juiciness and sweetness. Red and purple grapes also contain powerful phytochemicals (especially phenolics) that may help decrease risk of cardiovascular disease. These phenolic compounds are housed mostly in the skin of the red grapes.

Resveratrol, a polyphenolic stilbene found in the skins of red and purple fruits including grapes, may be responsible for some of the health benefits ascribed to the consumption of red wine. Resveratrol has been shown to have anti-oxidant, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory activity.

Enjoy grapes in salads, alone as a snack, or sliced in sandwiches.

Tip for your children: Place a bunch of grapes in the freezer. Your kids can eat the frozen grapes like a popsicle while receiving its health benefits.

Green Tea
Green teaGreen tea contains polyphenols, which may reduce heart disease, cancer and stroke risk. Green tea also supports brain health and memory, likely due a key compound in green tea called EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), a flavonoid. EGCG is thought to boost the immune system and prevent tumors. Aim for at least two cups daily.

Considered a disease-fighting superdrink, green tea — as well as black, white and red teas — is high in polyphenols and the flavonoid EGCG. Studies suggest that drinking tea every day can fight cancer, stroke and heart disease as well as boost the immune system and cognitive health. Replace your daily soft drinks with calorie-free tea and take advantage of the many green tea infused drinks and food products.

Hummus
Hummus
Hummus, a Middle Eastern specialty, is a great addition to a diabetes-friendly plate. The fiber and protein in chickpeas -- 12 grams of dietary fiber and 15 grams of protein per cup -- help regulate the absorption of the sugars from the starch so your blood sugar stays on an even keel.

The healthy fats from the tahini (made from ground sesame seeds) and olive oil slows the absorption of sugars even more. Pair your hummus with vegetables and whole-grain crackers for an even greater effect.

Kale
Kale's dark green pigment is an indicator of its concentrated supply of beneficial compounds. Lutein and zeaxanthin both protect against cataracts, while abundant vitamin A and other carotinoids work as powerful antioxidants. Kale is a rich source of vitamin K, which benefits cardiovascular health and helps to keep bones strong.

Kale contains a type of phytonutrient that appears to lessen the occurrence of a wide variety of cancers, including breast and ovarian. Though scientists are still studying why this happens, they believe the phytonutrients in kale trigger the liver to produce enzymes that neutralize potentially cancer-causing substances. 

Not only does it do a number on cancer, it also helps the heart. According to Jibrin, a half-cup of kale juice per day jacked up helpful HDL cholesterol by 27% and lowered artery-clogging LDL in just 12 weeks.

Kale is loaded with vitamin C, which is great for your complexion, along with calcium and vitamin A, Bazilian says. Leafy greens also contain nutrients — carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin – that help preserve vision and prevent eyestrain, a serious asset for those who stare at a computer screen all day.

Lentils
Lentils are smart legumes when managing your blood sugar. They contain a good amount of starch (normally a no-no when managing blood sugar), which gives them a satisfying, hearty creaminess. Lentils are also packed with both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber. Soluble fiber turns into a gel-like consistency during digestion, which slows absorption of the sugar molecules in the starch. Insoluble fiber passes through the digestive tract without "registering" as a carbohydrate, while slowing down the whole digestive process so you stay satisfied and your blood sugar remains steady.

Nuts
Nuts of all sorts -- walnuts, pecans, take your choice! -- are great for controlling blood sugar. Despite their diminutive size, nuts are power packages of protein, unsaturated (healthy) fat, and fiber. Those three factors have a positive impact on blood sugar levels. In a recent study, participants who ate 2 1/2 ounces of nuts daily had an 8% decrease in their A1c levels. Keep in mind that nuts also pack plenty of calories. Your best bet is to substitute nuts for high-carbohydrate foods, such as croutons or pretzels. Sprinkle them on yogurt and salads, or nibble them for a snack.

Pomegranate
Once considered an exotic fruit, the beautiful ruby red pomegranate is bursting with antioxidants and delicious sweet-tart flavor (at only about 100 calories each). Excellent for heart and brain health, pomegranate arils (seeds) can be tossed in salads, sprinkled on yogurt or ice cream, folded into muffin or pancake batter, used as a colorful garnish or simply snacked on as is. Pomegranate juice can be enjoyed as a refreshing wake-me-up, turned into a sweet syrup, or transformed into a tasty trendy cocktail. 

Pumpkin
Pumpkin is good for a lot more than carving jack-o'-lanterns on Halloween — it's loaded with nutrients that will help your heart, bones, eyes, and skin. Beta-carotene and potassium are the two standouts here: Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that helps rejuvenate skin, protect your vision, and may even reduce risk of arthritis. Potassium is a mineral involved in lowering blood pressure and maintaining healthy bones. Use fresh or canned (no-sugar-added) pumpkin in stews, soups, pies, or pureed as a side dish — or add a scoop to some nonfat vanilla yogurt for a yummy snack.

Quinoa
Quinoa (pronounced ‘Keen-wah’) is known as a super grain, that is a protein-rich seed that the Incas ate to give them strength and energy. It is gluten-free, high in amino acids, protein, vitamin B6, B1, B2, B3, and potassium. Plus it is a great source of copper, zinc, iron, magnesium, and folate.

Quinoa is a super grain for many reasons: It’s one of the few non-animal proteins that's considered a "complete protein" in that it has all of the essential amino acids your body needs to build protein molecules. Plus, quinoa is a whole grain with germ, endosperm, and bran intact, bringing a host of nutrients and healthy fat to the mix. Quinoa is also a source of calcium, so useful for vegans and those who are lactose intolerant. 

Even better, all those benefits come with very little impact on your blood sugar level. A half-cup of cooked quinoa ranks just under 10 (that's low!) on the glycemic load scale. It's easy to add quinoa to meals. Try using it in place of white rice as a side.

Why it's a good food for women: Quinoa contains all nine of the essential amino acids. The building blocks of protein, amino acids make up our muscles, tendons, glands and organs. Since our body can’t manufacture or store them, we need a steady source from our diet.

Without even one of the essential nine, our muscles and organs would start to break down. Most of us get all that we need from meat, but vegetarians need a surplus of whole grains and legumes to keep their levels intact.

Unlike refined carbohydrates, which are stripped of nutrients and fiber during processing, organic whole grains are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Quinoa is a good source of magnesium, which helps relax blood vessels and maintain healthy blood pressure levels. It may even be help prevent migraines.

Note: Other organic whole grains that provide major health benefits  include amaranth and bulgur. Amaranth seeds are between 14 and 16 percent protein, packed with the amino acid lysine, are gluten-free, and have about 8 grams of fiber per cooked cup. Bulgur is a type of cracked wheat kernel packed with a lot of fiber per cup (about 8 grams) and close to 6 grams of protein.

Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are considered super foods, but not so much if they are baked into high calorie and high fat dishes. Eating sweet potatoes by themselves will provide you with carotenoids, vitamin C, potassium and fiber. Sweet potatoes are relatively fat free and very low in calories.

Sweet potatoes can provide a healthy alternative to sweets and desserts because of their natural sweetness. If you must add sugar to your sweet potato dish, use apple sauce, raisins or pieces of apples.

Tomatoes
Tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant rarely found in other foods. Studies suggest that it could protect the skin against harmful UV rays, prevent certain cancers, and lower cholesterol. Plus, tomatoes contain high amounts of potassium, fiber, and vitamin C. Tomato

Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant and it’s this that gives tomatoes their superfood status. Lycopene is what gives them their red color and it helps absorb the damaging free radicals that can harm our cells.

Tomatoes are packed full of vitamins including vitamins A, C and E and contain potassium and other mineral salts. Not only does their high water content make them refreshing, but they’re low in calories too. It is thought tomatoes help ward against prostate breast cancers and stomach cancers as well as age-related macular degeneration.

Leafy Vegetables
Spinach, kale, chard, and other leafy greens are loaded with vitamins, such as folate; minerals, such as magnesium; a range of phytonutrients; and insoluble fiber -- all of which have virtually no impact on your blood sugar level. Mark Hyman, MD, author of The Blood Sugar Solution (Little, Brown and Company), calls leafy greens "free foods," which means you should eat as many of them as you can. Bonus: The fiber in leafy greens will slow absorption of any carbohydrates (e.g., potatoes or bread) they’re paired with, resulting in a healthier overall glycemic load.
Leafy Vegetables: Superfood

This vegetable group includes salad greens, spinach, collards, kale, radicchio, and watercress.  Leafy vegetables may grow in tight loose heads or individually on stems.  A few leafy greens, such as turnip greens and beet greens, are actually the tops of root vegetables.

Salad greens, such as lettuce, are usually served raw.  Sturdier more flavorful greens, such as kale and collard greens, are usually served cooked.  They can also be eaten raw. 

Most leafy vegetables are rich in carotenoids (such as beta carotene), vitamin C, and are good sources of fiber and folate.  They also provide varying amounts of chlorophyll, iron, and calcium.

Other Foods to Eat
Other foods that help to prevent diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and high blood pressure include vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bok choi, kale, Romaine lettuce; asparagus, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, okra, peppers, stringbeans, other greens (collard, turnip); sea vegetables such as chlorella and sea plankton; and, grasses such as wheat, barley, alfalfa.

Vegetables of other bright colors (green, red, yellow, purple, orange) include artichokes, avocado, bean sprouts, beets, carrots, chickpeas, mushrooms, onions, parsley, peppers, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and zucchini. 

Fruits include dark, bright-colored fruits such as açai berries, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, elderberries, strawberries, apples, grapes, goji berries; apricots, avocado, figs, grapefruits, kiwi, lemons, limes, mangosteens, melons, papaya, peaches, pears, plums, pomegranates, prunes, raspberries.

Lean protein includes fish (wild salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel, tilapia), nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, whey protein, whole soy foods (tofu, tempeh, miso, soy protein powder); lean, organic beef, chicken breast without the skin, turkey breast without the skin; goat’s milk, low fat plain yogurt; organic eggs, egg whites; low fat cheese, soy/tofu cheeses, blue-green algae (spirulina, chlorella); grains (amaranth, quinoa); wild game (venison, bear); organic seafood (shrimp, crab, lobster); and vegetables.

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