It’s hard to pick up a magazine today without reading about the latest trendy “superfoods”—such as mangosteen, goji and acai berries—that supposedly rid our bodies of toxins, keep us from aging quickly and ward off cancer and other diseases. But just how magical are these silver bullet foods? Are you ready? ... Very!
Nutritionists and doctors don’t completely understand how these foods work, but they agree that they have the ability to stop the break-down of free radicals in the bloodstream. While studies are ongoing, evidence is forming that certain fruits and vegetables rich in plant-based nutrients can fight cancer by halting their growth or even preventing tumors from forming.
Pulse created a list of the top superfoods by culling recent research studies and consulting Torrance Memorial nutritionists. If ever in doubt, just remember, the key to determining whether a food contains powerful antioxidants is in its deep rich color.
“The deep colors in foods often show the levels of antioxidants, so eat colorful foods: purple blueberries, red grapes and red tomatoes, deep green spinach and kale, orange oranges and pumpkins. Think about eating many different colors every day for the highest antioxidant intake,” advised Debra Nessel, RN, CDE. —LRS
Chock full of antioxidants. Anthocyanins give this berry its rich color and may help prevent memory loss, improve motor skills and lower blood pressure. Even more compelling is ongoing research showing the powerful berry’s ability to fight blood vessel tumors in children and combat prostate and liver cancer cells.
Acai Berries, Raspberries and Cranberries
Scientists are studying the cancerfighting phytochemicals found in these berries as well. For instance, researchers at the University of Florida discovered acai berry phytochemicals destroyed cancer cells when tested in cell cultures. And according to the American Chemical Society, the compounds in cranberries have been shown to make chemotherapy more effective for ovarian cancer patients.
This staple vegetable contains a potent anti-cancer compound that may help prevent breast cancer by fighting estrogen in the body. UK studies also link the green veggie to the reduction of prostate cancer tumors. Rich in vitamin C, calcium and vitamin A, it’s a go-to green.
While not a colorful superfood, oats shouldn’t be overlooked. Oatmeal is high in soluble fiber and insoluble fiber, reducing your bad cholesterol without affecting your good cholesterol–making oatmeal a heart-smart breakfast.
This fish is high in Omega-3 fatty acids, known to boost your mood, reduce inflammation and joint pain and even protect against Alzheimer’s disease. This superfood also contains lean protein and vitamin D, but aim to eat wild salmon to avoid the methyl mercury present in farm-raised. Frozen wild fillets can be found at much cheaper rates at many grocery stores.
A one-ounce serving of walnuts (12 walnut halves) can help you lower your cholesterol, boost your brain power, sleep better, cope with stress, prevent heart disease and fight breast cancer. A new study presented at the 2009 American Association for Cancer Research showed that walnuts appeared to lower breast cancer in mice. These nuts contain Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, phytosterols and melatonin, creating a powerful cancer-fighting agent.
High in potassium, magnesium, folate and vitamin E, avocados should be on your grocery list. Yes, they are high in fat, but they contain monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) and cholesterol-lowering plant sterols. MUFAs can actually help you lose belly fat a known factor in heart disease.
Red beans make our list for several reasons: they’re rich in antioxidants and packed with protein, folate, minerals, and fiber, including resistant starch. Resistant starch has several important benefits, like boosting the body’s ability to burn fat, helping you feel full and potentially reducing cancer risk.
Thicker in consistency and higher in protein than regular yogurt, Greek yogurt is rich in calcium and probiotics. One serving supplies one-quarter of a woman’s daily calcium needs.
A staple of the Mediterranean diet, this oil contains high amounts of MUFAs to help prevent heart disease. Recent research shows it can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease as well.