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The Nutrition InvestigatorThe health and nutrition blog by Dr. Roc Ordman.

Superfoods

by Roc (click here for full post)

Superfoods

Many articles are appearing now describing items one can eat that are excellent for your health. This makes sense to know some of the items which one can eat without guilt. The list starts with a list reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD., recommended by Steven Pratt, MD. The list has been edited to those seen in various scientific journals.

1. blueberries – they are highly recommended, full of antioxidants. In general, the darker a fruit or vegetable, the more antioxidants it contains.

2. Broccoli – it is a cruciferous vegetable, and these are known to contain a variety of anti-carcinogens.

3. Salmon – see the merits of fish oil

4. Soy – soy products contain estrogen-like molecules which have a variety of benefits.

5. Tea – green and even black teas are very healthy. See the essay on tea.

6. Walnuts – all nuts, even peanuts, are good for one’s health. Nuts and fish are particularly rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

7. Tomatoes – they are red, indicating colorful polyphenols. They contain lycopene, which is known to have healthful properties, but cooked tomatoes provide lycopene that is easier to absorb than fresh, raw tomatoes.

The author lists many other items which might not be superfoods. But some are good, so here’s those worth mentioning:

Dark Chocolate – Dark chocolate (or cocoa) was written up recently as “the new vegetable” because of all of the antioxidants and phytochemicals that provide the benefits of dark vegetables, and even help with weight loss.

Turkey – a safe meat, not containing the high levels of fat in red meats.

Oranges – as opposed to orange juice, which is loaded with carbohydrates, which are now in disrepute. But with the fiber of the whole orange, an orange does not have a high glycemic load and thus makes a good snack.

Reversing the deleterious effects of aging on neuronal communication and behavior: beneficial properties of fruit polyphenolic compounds James A Joseph et al Am. J. Clinical Nutrition,  Jan 2005;  81:  313S – 316S.

“… dietary supplementation with fruit or vegetable extracts high in antioxidants (eg, blueberry or spinach extracts) might decrease the enhanced vulnerability to oxidative stress that occurs in aging. These reductions might be expressed as improvements in motor and cognitive behavior. Additional research suggested that mechanisms in addition to antioxidant and antiinflammatory activities might be involved in the beneficial effects of these extracts; the most important of these might be their ability to increase cellular signaling and neuronal communication.”

But clearly there are classes of foods in general that have specific benefits. Here is a study of all foods that identified two particular groups, phytosterols and soluble fibers (like soy and whole grains) and omega-3 fatty acids (like fish oil) that are particularly important to prevent heart disease.

Patricia Sinnecker et al, Functional foods for coronary heart disease risk reduction: a meta-analysis using a multivariate approach , Am J Clin Nutr 2005 82: 32-40

Background: It has been difficult to identify the appropriate bioactive substance for the development of new functional foods associated with coronary heart disease, because the results of many clinical studies are contradictory…Phytosterols and soluble fibers had a hypocholesterolemic effect, whereas n–3 fatty acids lowered triacylglycerol and increased total, LDL, and HDL cholesterol.

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