All foods are not created equal. Some foods are simply not good for you and I talk enough about them: principally sugar, foods that act like sugar and processed foods (see my book Sugarettes), but let’s talk about those foods that are not just good for you, but are the foods have the ability to change the course of your life and pack outstanding health benefits.
You want to include as many of these disease busting power foods into your diet as possible.
What to Look For
Finding these power foods is not that hard, you probably have many of these in your kitchen right now. They all seem to have some similar characteristics that scream to you: eat me, I’m good for you!
First, they are often very colorful: the phytochemicals that add color to foods are the same chemicals that enhance your health. These foods usually have a long history of being sought out and prized; there are stories of pirates boarding ships and leaving gold, but taking spices because the spices were much more valuable. Likewise, garlic and mushrooms have long been used as medicines.
Disease Busting Power Foods
Here is a list of the most powerful foods that act like medicine that you should add to your diet:
Cruciferous Vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage can all pack a huge amount of not only essential vitamins and minerals by also phytonutrients that are powerful moderators of disease. Broccoli alone has been the subject of a multitude of research studies and scientists have found it contains components including antioxidants, Indole-3-Carbinol (which has anti-cancer properties), Isothiocyanates, sulforaphane, diindolylmethane (DIM) and many other disease preventing nutrients.
Mushrooms: I am not talking about those white medium mushrooms that you get on your salad, but more medicinal mushrooms like Shitake, Maitake, Reishi and others. These mushrooms have been extensively studied for their immune-boosting polysaccharides. Include these in many of your meals, they can be added to salads, soups, ground up and put in meat to give it some added flavor.
Green tea: Not quite a food, but green tea belongs on our list because it too has been the subject of many research studies that show it is anticancer and other health benefits. Green tea contains epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), isoflavones, catechins and other great nutrients.
Garlic: Garlic has long been considered a super-food, prized for its healing, food preserving and, yes, vampire-avoiding properties. Modern science has uncovered a wealth of nutrients inside garlic that not only boost the immune system, lowers cholesterol, is liver and brain protective, but can also be cancer preventative. Allicin, S-allylcysteine, S-allyl mercaptocysteine, saponins, Nalpha-fructosyl arginine and a long list of other active constituents makes garlic something to include in every meal.
Tomatoes: Packed full of nutrients, tomatoes get more nutritious when you cook them, so munch down on pasta sauce, chili, tomato soup, and even ketchup. Lycopene is probably the best known active ingredient in tomatoes, and especially helpful for preventing prostate cancer, but all cancers in general can benefit from tomatoes goodness.
Berries: Probably the best tasting super food in the list, eat berries whenever you can. Packed full of bright colors, berries of all kind are great for your health. Eat as many raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and blackberries as you can stuff in your face, but don’t forget other berries such as Gogi berries.
Greens: There has been a revolution in the salad business the last few years. Gone is Iceberg lettuce as your only choice at the dinner table. New mixed salad greens containing: spinach, arugula, endive, dandelion greens, escarole, radicchio, red mustard and various lettuces: red leaf, green leaf, romaine… and more are not only a delight to eat, but great for your health.
Spices: People have used spices for centuries to help preserve foods and add flavor. Luckily for us, they also have incredible health benefits:
- Cinnamon: Cinnamon not only tastes good, but also has been shown to help with high cholesterol and blood sugar control.
- Turmeric: The amount of research on the active constituent in turmeric (curcumin) is astounding and keeps on coming. Tumeric can help prevent cancers and lower the risk of heart disease.
- Ginger: Ginger is a great additive to many foods and has also been shown to contain antioxidants and other powerful healthy nutrients, but is also great for nausea and upset stomach.
- Rosemary: This herb contains a huge amount of antioxidants, and has been shown to be helpful for cataracts and memory problems.
- Oregano: The humble oregano plant packs a power punch of nutrients that have been shown to be helpful in cancers, especially ovarian and breast.
- Fish Oils: I put fish oil and not fish as the last power food on my list because it is the essential oils that are almost completely lacking in our diets. Fish oils have been shown to reduce blood pressure, help with cholesterol levels, are great for the heart, mind and even nervous system.
As you can see, you don’t have to travel too far outside you kitchen to get healthy. Yes, you probably do need to supplement from time to time, but these foods contain many of the essential nutrients you need to not only make it through your day, but to thrive throughout your life.