Affordable superfoods: Beans
Beans are not only one of our favourite affordable superfoods, they are in fact good for your heart. Studies find that diets high in soluble fibre can cut total cholesterol by 10 to 15 per cent. A recent study also ranked beans among the top antioxidant foods.
How much? ¾ cup (175 mL) of beans equals one serving of meat and alternatives.
Beat Health tip: Beans contain more protein than any other plant food, but the protein is incomplete. Eat a grain such as rice at any time of the day to “complete” the protein.
Affordable superfoods: Blueberries
Blueberries have more antioxidants – those magical molecules that can help prevent a host of maladies – than 40 other common fruits and vegetables tested.
The antioxidant plant pigments that make blueberries blue guard against heart disease, cancer and age-related blindness and memory loss. They prevent urinary tract infections, thanks to antioxidant epicatechins, which keep bacteria from sticking to bladder walls.
How much? 1/2 cup (125 mL) of blueberries equals one fruit and vegetable serving per day.
Beat Health tip: Sprinkle blueberries on your pancakes at the last minute – cooking the berries destroys valuable vitamin C. (If you’re a fan of smoothie bowls, you’ll love this recipe.)
Affordable superfoods: Garlic
Garlic has antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. Most of its disease-fighting potential comes from its sulfur compounds, which act as antioxidants, providing many of its cardiovascular benefits. Just six or more cloves of garlic a week can slash your risk of colorectal, stomach and prostate cancer in half compared to eating one clove a week or less.
How much? Incorporate at least one garlic clove into your diet every day.
Beat Health tip: Chop or crush your garlic, then let it stand for 10 minutes to fully release its healing potential.
Affordable superfoods: Olive Oil
Press an olive and you get one of the healthiest fats in the world. The main benefit of olive oil is that it lowers “bad” LDL cholesterol and raises “good” HDL cholesterol, thanks to its monosaturated fats. Olive oil is also packed with antioxidants called phenols, which may protect artery walls from cholesterol buildup.
How much? Include up to 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of olive oil in your daily diet.
Beat Health tip: Look for “virgin,” “extra virgin” or “cold-pressed” oils, which are extracted by pressing alone. Solvents and heat used to produce “light” or “extra-light” oils destroy antioxidants.
Affordable superfoods: Broccoli
Consider broccoli your number one cancer fighter, thanks to its sulfur compounds, such as sulforaphane, which you can smell as broccoli cooks. These compounds signal our genes to boost production of enzymes that detoxify potentially cancer-causing compounds. Eat more broccoli and you could slash your risk of everything from breast and lung cancer to stomach and colon cancer. (For more on this superfood and its cancer-fighting properties.)
How much? 125 mL (1/2 cup) of cooked broccoli is one fruit and vegetable serving.
Beat Health tip: Steam broccoli for 3 to 4 minutes until it’s crisp-tender to free up more of its sulforaphane.
Affordable superfoods: Yogurt
Yogurt is a great source of bone-building calcium, but its real strength lies in live beneficial bacteria, know as probiotics, that keep down the growth of harmful bacteria in your gut. Eating more yogurt could help with inflammatory bowel disease, ulcers, urinary tract infections and vaginal yeast infections.
How much? ¾ of a cup (175 mL) of low-fat or fat-free yogurt with live cultures is one serving of milk/dairy products.
Beat Health tip: When coating chicken, pork or fish with bread crumbs, replace the eggs used to moisten the meat with plain yogurt.
Affordable superfoods: Oats
Oats’ cholesterol – and blood pressure-lowering powers come from beta-glucan, a type of soluble fibre. One cup (250 mL) a day of cooked oat bran, 1 ½ cups (375 mL) of cooked oatmeal or thee packets of instant oatmeal provide enough beta-glucan to lower blood cholesterol by about five per cent and heart attack risk by about 10 per cent.
How much? Aim for 10 grams of soluble fibre each day. Cooked oats contain 2 to 3 grams per serving.
Beat Health tip: Buy the type of oatmeal you’ll eat. It doesn’t matter if it’s steel-cut or instant.
Affordable superfoods: Flaxseeds
A tablespoon of ground flaxseed sprinkled over cereal or yogurt provides an easy 2.3 grams of fibre, often more than what’s in the cereal itself. But flaxseed is most revered for its lingans. These act like estrogen in the body, blocking estrogen receptors on cells and contributing to reduced rates of certain hormone-related cancers, such as breast cancer. Their anti-inflammatory power may also help keep conditions from acne to asthma at bay.
How much? Sneak 1 to 2 tablespoons (15 to 25 mL) of ground flaxseed into your diet daily.
Beat Health tip: Make sure your flax is ground; otherwise, the seeds will come out the same way they went in (whole), and you won’t reap the health benefits.
Affordable superfoods: Cinnamon
Cinnamon is one of the most powerful healing spices. It’s become most famous for its ability to improve blood sugar control in people with diabetes. The apple pie spice can help prevent blood clots and has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It has been shown to conquer E. coli, among other types of bacteria.
How much? As little as ¼ to ½ teaspoon of (1 to 2 mL) a day could cut triglycerides and total cholesterol by 12 to 30 per cent.
Beat Health tip: Sprinkle some cinnamon on your daily coffee to reap the benefits of this super-spice.
Affordable superfoods: Tea
Tea is one of the most potent sources of antioxidants in nature (more potent than any fruit or vegetable). Tea’s antioxidants offer protection from heart disease, stroke and cancer. They appear to protect against heart disease by slowing the breakdown of “bad” LDL cholesterol, preventing blood clots and improving blood vessel function. People who drink a cup or two of tea a day have a 46 per cent lower risk of developing narrowed arteries.
How much? Brew up two to five cups daily.
Beat Health tip: Drink most of your tea between meals since the tannins interfere with the absorption of iron from food.