Top ten lists abound. When it comes to food, however, I’m often dissatisfied with the top tens. These lists often don’t include some of the most well researched healthy foods. Even if a food isn’t a “super food”, it may deserve a spot on the list.
Top ten lists typically include a food that is part of an entire category that deserves recognition. Broccoli makes the list. In reality, the family to which broccoli belongs should be included. I’m all about eating for health and pleasure. What if you don’t like broccoli? Finding an equally healthy alternative you like is important.
And many lists don’t explain why a food is on it. What can these foods do for me? When people understand the “why,” they are more likely to make the effort to include healthy foods.
Below you’ll find the first five on our Top Ten Healthiest Foods to Eat Now. Tune in next week to get numbers six through ten on our list!
The Top Ten Healthiest Foods To Eat Now: One through Five
1. Cruciferous (Brassica) vegetables
The cruciferous category includes broccoli, cauliflower, kale, chard, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, collard and mustard greens, turnips, bok choy, kohlrabi, rutabaga, horse radish, and a few other vegetables. Cruciferous veggies deserve the top because they are master detoxifiers. (1)
The cells in our body, especially in the liver, have “detoxification factories” in them called enzymes. The factories constantly work to process the things that can damage the body.
Cruciferous vegetables can speed up enzyme processing of toxic compounds. They make the body a more efficient detoxifier. Plus, cruciferous vegetables balance hormones in a favorable way. (2) This may reduce risk of hormone-related cancers, such as breast and prostate cancers.
No matter the color or shape, you can’t go wrong with berries. Blueberries often make the list, but don’t forget about blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, and cranberries. All berries are loaded with anthocyanins (an-tho-sigh-ah-nins).
Anthocyanins limit cellular damage by blocking inflammation and oxidation in the body. (3) This is key to preventing a host of chronic conditions including heart disease, cancer, arthritis, diabetes, and chronic pain. Would you rather pop an ibuprofen tablet or eat a daily handful of juicy, delicious berries?
Unfortunately, apples often don’t make the list, but they should. Want to shed a few pounds? Eat apples! Adding apples to your weight loss plan can help you eat less and lose more weight than if you didn’t eat apples. (4)
Apples contain pectin, a soluble fiber that selectively lowers LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol. This improves the cholesterol ratio. Cholesterol ratio is more important than total cholesterol when it comes to heart disease risk. (5)
Apple peels are rich in polyphenols (pahl-ee-fene-ols), including one called quercetin (kwer-seh-tin). Quercetin is a potent antioxidant. It encourages damaged cells to die, lessening the chances they develop into cancer. (6)
Nutrients in oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, and tangerines are anti-inflammatory and help support the integrity of the connective tissue in the joints. (7) Got arthritis? You’ll want to make citrus a regular part of your diet. Plus, the vitamin C in citrus is more easily absorbed by the body than isolated vitamin C. (8)
If you are eager to reduce your chronic disease risk – and who isn’t? – look no further. Citrus has a mind-boggling number of healthful actions in the body. Nutrients in citrus suppress new cancer formation, block carcinogenic (cancer-causing) compounds from reaching vulnerable cells, and transform carcinogens into less toxic substances. (9)
Citrus flavonoids have anti-blood clotting, antioxidant, and pro-blood vessel relaxing actions. All of these lead to lower heart disease risk. And through their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions, citrus flavonoids appear to ward off degenerative brain diseases. (9)
5. Green Tea
The latest studies show that green tea polyphenols rev up metabolism to aid weight loss, regardless of the caffeine content. This beverage also has been linked with reduced risk of everything from heart disease to osteoporosis and obesity.
Green tea has a double benefit for battling obesity as well. It seems to promote body fat loss from the mid-section. This is the type of fat most closely linked with metabolic syndrome and diabetes. (10)
And for beating cancer, you can’t beat green tea. Studies associate regular green tea consumption with reduced risk of many cancers, including those of the breast, prostate, and ovary. (11)
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