Tag Archive | anti oxidants

Black Is The New Green

Hello all!  Well, for thoes of you who have been following my blog for a while, you may have noticed that my posts are all over the place lately!  Recently I have been posting about anxiety and mindfulness.  Mostly because that is what I am dealing with in my psychology practice.   Occasionally, I will write a post about my son Ben.  Mostly because he is awesome.   (On that note, I am very close to the completion of my book:  “Calm the Fuck Down: A Day in the Life of an Autism Mom”.   More to follow in March!!!)   It seems like a long time since I have written anything about cancer prevention or healthy lifestyle practices.  Mostly because…..well, there is no excuse.

I have been researching a lot lately for another book I am working on, “Still Finding the Perks” , and I am learning a lot of new, interesting information about food.  I believe that when you are making the transition to healthier eating habits, you should concern yourself with what new foods you can ADD to your diet, not what you have to eliminate.  Once you add more and more healthy options, there will be no room on your plate for the unhealthy stuff…..and you won’t feel deprived!

Did you know that the darker the pigments in foods, the more health benefits they provide to you?  By “foods” I mean foods from the earth of course, not animals, in which case lighter is better.  Anti-oxidants are the agents that give color to foods and the darker the color, the more powerful the anti-oxidants.   As you may know,  anti-oxidants help to neutralize the harmful effects that free radicals have on our bodies which protects us against many diseases, including cancer. What gives foods their black color is anthocyanin, an antioxidant flavanoid pigment, which has been linked to reducing cancer cell proliferation.  So when choosing foods for cancer prevention, always look for the darker varieties because when it comes to healthy eating, black is the new green!

black

 Blackberries: Blackberries have one of the highest anti-oxidant levels of all berries.  In addition to being a great food for cancer prevention, blackberries help promote better digestive health, strengthened immune defense, and healthy functioning of the heart.  Blackberries have also been shown to aid in enhancing memory and keeping the bones and skin healthy.

Black rice:  You probably know that brown rice is a healthier choice than white rice, but if you want to go that extra step, try black rice.  Unlike brown rice, black rice contains a flavonoid called anthocyanin. Additionally, black rice contains Vitamin E, which is useful in maintaining eye, skin, and immune system health.

Black lentils: In addition to anti-oxidants, black lentils are very high in iron, with one serving offering nearly half of the daily recommended amount for women.  They are also high in fiber, helping to remove toxins from the body.

Black beans: While all types of beans provide a good source of plant based protein, black beans,  are also rich in potent bioflavonoids, which may help to prevent cancer.

Chia seeds: These little powerhouses are touted for their high, heart healthy, omega 3 content.  In addition, one ounce of chia seeds provide four grams of protein.  They are also a good source of calcium and give you 42% of your recommended daily allowance of fiber, per serving.

Black soybeans: With more antioxidants and protein and fewer carbs than other beans these legumes are not only good for you, but also are a powerhouse food for weight loss.

Black sesame seeds: In addition to being high in anti-oxidants as well as several vitamins and minerals (such as magnesium which lowers blood pressure and helps to prevent diabetes), black sesame seeds promote healthy skin and hair.  They have also been proven to help promote healthy liver functioning.

Black garlic: Black garlic is simply the aged version of garlic. While garlic is known for its anti-cancer properties, the black variety has twice the antioxidants of regular garlic, giving it an even greater cancer kicking punch!

Black mushrooms: There are several black varieties of mushrooms, and all are rich in anti-oxidants.  They also help to stimulate the immune system as well as prevent cancer.

Black pepper: Black pepper has numerous health benefits including antibacterial properties and it aids in digestion.   The thing that gives black pepper its “super-power” however, is its ability to increase nutrient absorption from other foods by up to 2,000 percent!  (Black pepper helps your body to utilize the cancer fighting effects found in turmeric, for example.)

While many of these foods may sound exotic, it is easy to substitute them in the place of other, more familiar foods.  For example, I recently used black rice instead of brown rice in my veggie soup.  It darkened the broth a little, but had the same flavor. As a general rule of thumb, remember that when it comes to fruits and vegetables, the darker, the better, so seek out not only black varieties, but also dark greens and purples. Iceberg lettuce, for example, has very little nutritional value, whereas romaine is much richer in vitamin A, vitamin K, folate, vitamin C, calcium, phosphorus and potassium.  Knowledge is power and now that you know how much better darker foods are for your body, go ahead and make yourself a powerful, cancer-kicking salad!  (But don’t stop at the dark foods….try to include all the colors of the rainbow!)

 

 

Follow The Rainbow

Hey, it has been a while since I have posted about cancer prevention and healthy living, so here goes…….

When eating for disease prevention, the best health tip that you can follow is to “follow the rainbow”, meaning that you should include as many colorful foods in your diet as possible.  No, I am not telling you to eat bag of Skittles a day, I am referring to nature’s treats, fruits and vegetables!

Nothing looks more appealing than a plateful of richly colored food.  The beautiful colors found in fruits and vegetables are the result of chemicals called anti-oxidants.  While there are tiny amounts of anti-oxidants found in meats and dairy (due to the fact that animals eat plants), by far the vast majority of anti-oxidants are found in plant based foods.  There are many classes of anti-oxidants, such as beta-carotene, which gives squash its yellow color; lypocene, which gives tomatoes their red color; and crytoxanthins, which lend oranges their orange color.  It is not important that you know all these fancy words, but it is important for you to know that you need to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables in order to get the health benefits from an array of anti-oxidants.

So why are anti-oxidants important to good health?  Good question!  Throughout our lifetime, our bodies produce a nasty substance called free radicals.  Free radicals are the result of normal metabolism and energy production in the body, and are formed when we exercise.  They are also produced by exposure to the sun’s rays, pollution from the environment, and poor diet, among other things.  These free radicals wreak havoc on the body, causing our tissues to become stiff and rigid.  Eventually, these free radicals will lead to degenerative diseases in the body, such as arthritis, heart disease and cancer.   The good news is, we can help to protect our bodies from the damage of free radicals by building a shield around them so that they are unable to damage the cells in our body.  This protective shield is formed by anti-oxidants.

Our bodies can manufacture some types of antioxidants, but not others, and our natural antioxidant production tends to decline with age.  Fortunately for us, plants are able to produce these anti-oxidant shields which protect their cells from the harmful effects of free radicals, and by eating plants, we get the same protection.  It is impossible to stop our bodies from accumulating free radicals, after all, they are a bi-product of living and breathing.  In addition, pollutants and carcinogens are all around us: in our air, food, water and sunlight. However, we don’t have to do it alone.  By eating more fruits and vegetables we are able to borrow their anti-oxidant super powers, and thereby reduce the aging and disease effects that free radicals cause in our bodies.

So, some of you are thinking, “I am not a big fan of fruits and veggies, so I will just take an anti-oxidant supplement instead.”  Sorry, think again.  When you eat whole foods, you get more than the anti-oxidents. You also get essential vitamins, minerals, and energy in the form of protein, fat and carbohydrates.   Although you can get some types of nutrients through supplements, it is better to get them through food. The nutrients and other components in whole foods are more balanced, more biologically active, and are usually better absorbed by the body, according to a 2009 article by David R. Jacobs, Jr. published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.”  While taking a supplement can do no harm, it is wise not to depend on them as your main source of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants.  See how many colors you can incorporate into your meals today!