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With our society becoming bogged down in pharmaceuticals, supplements and quick fix pills, many people are turning towards a more natural remedy: food. For millennia, human beings have discovered health and well being properties in the produce they could grow themselves and only in the last few centuries has the West turned towards a more chemical approach. Detailed below are 5 colorful yet powerful foods that can improve your health by providing vitamins, minerals and anti oxidants.
Anti oxidants help our bodies fight off free radicals which, in layman’s terms, are weakened molecules which latch on to healthy cells to ‘steal’ their electron or their power. Free radicals weaken healthy cells which leave us susceptible to such ailments as trivial as skin aging to the dreaded development of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Blueberries are loaded with anti oxidants, protect against sun damage, support eye health, are high in fiber, low in naturally occurring sugars, and contain a potent dose of proanthocyanidins: beneficial for skin, cognitive function and cardiovascular health.
Avocados contain one of the most potent antioxidants: glutathione, which provides powerful disease fighting properties. Unfortunately, their naturally monounsaturated fat content has made them the enemy of dieters which is actually the wrong way to approach weight loss. Natural fats occurring in fruits and vegetables aid weight loss as they provide satiation, therefore, people tend to eat less calories overall when they feel fuller. Also, when eaten with complex carbohydrates, monounsaturated fats slow the release of sugar into the blood stream, regulating insulin levels. Insulin in the blood stream is the trigger for the body to store fat as energy, which is the exact opposite of what a dieter wants.
Besides providing flavor to low calorie dishes, chilies have been used for internal and external medicine for decades. Consuming chilies raw, dried or cooked can provide high amounts of Vitamin C (maintains collagen which helps to absorb iron) and carotene. Carotene is converted into retinol by the body and acts like vitamin A, helps prevent night blindness and other eye problems, skin disorders, enhances immunity, protects against toxins and cancer and many infections. Chilies also contain B vitamins and vitamin B6, iron, potassium, magnesium and capsaicin. Capsaicin is a safe and effective topical analgesic agent in the management of arthritis pain, herpes zoster-related pain, diabetic neuropathy, post-mastectomy pain, and headaches.[
Ground golden flaxseed contains properties that fight cancer and has been shown to reduce the risk of breast, colon and prostate cancer in particular. It is the lignans in the flaxseeds, rather than the oil that are the cancer protective compounds so adding freshly ground flaxseeds to food such as oatmeal and salads is an effective way to ingest them.
Bananas (the super fruit)
Besides being enriched by fiber, iron and tryptophan (which help with constipation, anemia and reducing depression), bananas are also credited with eye sight protection. Apparently, a study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology proved that adults who consumed at least 3 servings per day of fruit reduced the risk of macular degeneration by 37%. In a separate study, it was proven that women who ate bananas 4-6 times per week cut their chance of kidney cancer by a staggering 50%. This was determined because bananas contain a high amount of the antioxidant phenolic, necessary for effective detoxification of potential carcinogens.
Bananas also contain fructooligosaccharides, a compound which encourages probiotics in the colon. These probiotics help promote healthy bones by enabling the body to absorb calcium more efficiently. Additionally, they contain a natural antacid and potassium which helps prevent indigestion, high blood pressure, stokes, and can surprisingly help with nicotine withdrawal.
Anyone who suffers from ulcers can tell you that fruits are like shards of glass in their stomach but bananas, thanks to their ability to produce extra mucus in the stomach (which protects against acid) are the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress.
Two other properties in bananas that I would like to share, thanks to my high school years spent in West Africa: if the inside of a banana skin is rubbed on a mosquito bite then it can provide relief; and if we take a note from our primate friends, take a banana and peel it from the base rather than the stalk then you don’t get those annoying tendrils. Monkey see, monkey do.
Lynda Linforth is a certified personal trainer, licensed nutritionist and owner of Train Inc., a private personal training studio in Arcadia specializing in weight loss, post-rehab exercise, post-cancer exercise and nutrition. She can be reached at (626) 447-1049 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Train Inc. also offers self-defense classes for men only and women only, Bride and Bikini Boot Camp to lose weight and tone up and Fitness Rx for clients with more than 60 lbs to lose. Lynda has been a certified trainer since 1998.