4 Superfoods to Prevent Disease
What’s the best way to benefit from the disease-fighting power of plant foods? Skip the supplements and stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables. Here are 4 superfoods to eat daily
Choose these foods to help prevent disease
Almost every type of fruit and vegetable delivers a unique portfolio of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and other beneficial compounds. According to an abundance of research, in almost all cases phytochemical-rich plant foods beat supplements for lowering risk of serious ailments including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancers, vision problems and more.
Eating about 2 cups (500 milligrams) of fruit and 2.5 cups (600 milligrams) of vegetables a day-and eating a rainbow of colours-is a proven way to maximize the power of fresh produce. In a 2004 Harvard School of Public Health study, this amount reduced heart disease risk by 30 percent compared to people who ate less than 1 cup (250 milligrams) a day.
Yet, while all fruits and vegetables are beneficial, some are more beneficial than others when it comes to preventing disease. Try to include the following foods on a regular basis to increase the nutrition level of your diet.
Packed with carotenoids like beta-carotene, spinach (and other dark leafy greens such as kale) lowered risk for diabetes by 14 per cent in one 2010 study undertaken at Leicester Royal Infirmary in England. The lutein and zeaxanthin in spinach accumulate in the retina, protecting eyes from cell-damaging, vision- stealing free radicals. Spinach has been shown to reduce risk for aggressive prostate cancers, too.
Elevated levels of flavonoids in berries may explain why people who dig into these sweet treats on a regular basis were found to have a 40 percent lower risk for Parkinson's disease in one 2011 Harvard School of Public Health study. Consuming blueberries daily improved memory and sharpened thinking in one study and lowered levels of heart-threatening triglycerides in another, ultimately helping to prevent heart disease.
The brilliant yellow, gold and orange colours of pumpkins indicate that they deliver carotenoids including beta-carotene, which most likely reduce risk for cancers of the mouth, larynx, pharynx, lungs and oesophagus, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research. Their high fibre levels will help protect against prostate cancer, too.
The gamma-tocopherol form of vitamin E in this tasty nut lowered risk for heart disease in a 2006 review by Tufts University, Massachusetts. And the combination of omega-3 fatty acids and fibre in nuts may explain why 1 ounce (28 grams) a day slashed risk for a prediabetic, heart-threatening condition called metabolic syndrome in a 2008 study at the University of Rovira i Virgili in Catalonia, Spain.