Nutri People Superfoods – Ten of the Best!
By Denise Chester
Superfoods are so-named as they contain high levels of powerful nutrients which are beneficial to health. Many nutritionists would even say that they are essential in order for our bodies to remain not only disease-free, but in optimum health. Nutri People nutritional therapist, Denise Chester, talks us through a few superfoods here.
This cruciferous vegetable contains two power anti-cancer substances, sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol. Sulforaphane stimulates part of the body’s detoxification system: not only does it destroy any carcinogenic (cancer-forming) compounds that you have ingested, but it then goes on to create enzymes that eat up any carcinogens left over from that same action – a nutritional double-whammy!
Sulforaphane also kills the bacteria Helicobacter pylori which causes stomach ulcers and greatly increases the risk of stomach cancers.
Indole-3-carbinol helps your body to metabolise (breakdown) oestrogen, potentially protecting against breast cancer.
Broccoli is also a good source of beta-carotene and vitamin C, which are important for the immune system; iron which is vital for oxygen transport and energy levels; and potassium, which helps lower your risk of heart disease.
Drunk in Asia for over 3000 years, this light and refreshing brew is a powerful source of anti-oxidants, which protect our bodies against ageing and disease. It stops fats from turning rancid in the body, which can lead to free radical damage, and if left unchecked can cause heart disease.
Green tea contains very strong phytochemicals (plant chemicals), especially a compound called epigallcatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). Studies have shown that this tongue-twisting nutrient is highly cancer protective, it works by inhibiting tumour growth, and forcing cancer cells to self-destruct.
It is also anti-inflammatory; inflammation is now widely thought to be involved in all the major diseases – cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, arthritis…..
US Department of Agriculture researchers found that these tiny blue fruits had the highest antioxidant capacity of 40 tested fruit and vegetables. This makes them a very rich source of phytonutrients that protect against disease-causing free radicals.
Researchers have also found that a blueberry enriched diet is linked to reduction in brain aging!
As well as helping to keep your brain young, blueberries contain antibacterial compounds which are particularly effective against E coli. This way, they help prevent gastro disorders and cystitis.
Used in medicine for centuries, garlic is antiviral and antibacterial. A study at the University of East London claims that garlic has the ability to not only kill many of the antibiotic resistant strains of MRSA, the “hospital super bug”, but is also able to destroy the newer super-super bugs that are resistant against the most powerful antibiotics.
Numerous clinical trials have shown garlic to be an excellent cancer fighter; it has the ability to prevent development of cancers of the breast, colon, skin, prostate, stomach and oesophagus.
Garlic also helps stimulate the immune system by encouraging the growth of natural killer cells, which directly attack cancer cells.
As well as this, garlic is good for the heart too. It can lower blood pressure, increase levels of good cholesterol, and reduce the amount of bad cholesterol in our blood.
If you want all these amazing benefits but don’t want to end up alone all night, chewing parsley can help combat the strong smell of garlic!
In the last few years, soya has been one of the most controversial issues around food and nutrition, but there is much evidence to show that it is highly protective effect against cancer; especially of the breast and prostate. It contains the phytoestrogens dadzein and genistein; these are plant oestrogens which perform the same role as oestrogens but are weaker. They are far less damaging to the body, and they work by blocking oestrogens which are 1000 stronger and are thought to be a major cause of breast cancer and PMS.
People with thyroid problems would be advised to avoid soya, but for the rest of us they can be very useful
This old favourite contains flavonoids that are heart protective. They contain something called quercetin, which is an anti-inflammatory nutrient, but which also prevents oxidation (damage) to bad cholesterol, which has been shown to contribute to heart disease.
Apples also contain pectin, a soluble fibre, which helps to reduce cholesterol levels and remove nasties such as lead from our bodies.
Curry lovers rejoice! The spice turmeric contains curcumin, which has been shown to prevent cancer in animals and stop cancer growth in test tube studies. In one human study on smokers, when curcumin was given for 30 days, the researchers saw a 40% decrease in excretion of genetic changing chemicals, thus confirming cell mutation had reduced. In simpler terms, this means that cancer development was being inhibited.
In addition, curcumin can stop a tumour from forming its own blood supply, and can force cancer cells to commit cell ‘suicide’.
This delicious vegetable contains carotenoids which are powerful antioxidants, protecting our bodies against free radical damage that is responsible for disease and aging. In particular, tomatoes have high levels of the carotenoid lycopene. In 1999 review of 72 studies, 57 showed an inverse relationship between blood lycopene levels (or tomato consumption) and the risk of prostate, lung and stomach cancers.
Further studies have found that a low lycopene level in the blood is associated with increased death form heart diseases.
All this from a small red vegetable! It is important to note that the tomato is more protective if cooked, or in sauces. Don’t go mad with the tomato ketchup though, as it is high in sugar and salt!
Fish oils/Flax seed:
Oily fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, trout, kippers, cod, all contain omega 3 essential fatty acids, which break down to the compounds EPA and DHA. These are metabolised into prostaglandins – hormone like substances which are anti-inflammatory.
These are vital to good health and are important in alleviating inflammatory conditions like eczema, arthritis, heart disease, and osteoporosis, and are equally important in preventing other conditions including PMS, IBS, mental health problems and reduced immune function. Recent studies that have given supplemental fish oils to children have seen amazing results in reducing aggression and other behavioural problems, and increasing concentration.
For those who don’t want fish, go for flaxseeds. There is still much discussion about whether flax is as effective as oily fish, but is the best plant source of omega 3, and doesn’t carry the worry of contaminants from polluted seas.
In addition, flax contains lignans, a phytoestrogen which helps to balance hormones.
Beets are not only low calorie but also packed full of nutrients. They contain high levels of carotenoids and flavonoids; anti-oxidants that help prevent damage to ‘bad’ cholesterol, and so protect our artery walls and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Of major importance to pregnant women, and those who may become pregnant, it is one of the richest sources of folic acid, which helps to protect unborn babies from spina bifida. Beetroot also contains the mineral silica, which helps the body to use calcium, so is therefore important for musculo-skeletal health and reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
© Nutri People Ltd
Denise is a fully qualified nutritional therapist, and a member of BANT. She practices at The Nutrition Coach in central London. For an appointment please call 0845 050 2442.
This article was posted by Denise Chester