Some of the special disease-fighting compounds
found in vegetables and fruits include antioxidants,
dietary fiber, and a host
of essential vitamins and minerals. Vegetables
and fruits are also a good source of energy-boosting
carbohydrates, they're generally very low in saturated
fat and calories, and they're incredibly versatile.
and fruit superfoods
All vegetables and fruits contain health-giving
compounds, but researchers have identified a number
of vegetables and fruits that are particularly
beneficial. Not surprisingly all of these vegetables
and fruits are eaten extensively throughout Asia
and the Mediterranean.
Garlic is full of health-promoting compounds including
vitamin C, potassium, phosphorus, selenium and
a number of amino acids. But one of the most important
health-giving compounds found in garlic is allicin,
a phytochemical compound which is formed when
garlic is cut or crushed. Garlic has been shown
to lower bad LDL cholesterol
and help raise good HDL cholesterol, boost immune
function, and help protect from certain types
of cancer. In a recent study of 42,000 women in
Iowa, for example, those who ate garlic more than
once a week were half as likely to develop colon
cancer as non-garlic eaters.
57 separate studies have linked tomato consumption
with reduced cancer risksparticularly cancers
of the prostate, lung, and stomach. Other research
has shown that tomatoes can significantly cut
the risk of heart attack. Scientists believe that
lycopene, a powerful phytochemical that
gives tomatoes their red color, is responsible
for their powerful disease-fighting properties.
A recently completed five-year Harvard study of
more than 48,000 men found that those eating 10
servings or more a week of lycopene rich tomato
products had one third the risk of developing
prostate cancer than those eating two servings
or less a week. Tomatoes are also a good source
of vitamin C and beta carotene (two powerful antioxidants),
dietary fiber and potassiumall of which
have been shown to be beneficial to overall health.
Strawberries, blueberries, cranberries, raspberries,
blackberriesthey're all packed with powerful
antioxidants and phytochemicals that can ward
off disease and premature aging. Berries also
supply your body with a host of other essential
nutrients including potassium, vitamin C, iron,
B vitamins such as niacin (which releases energy
from food and protects against heart disease)
and folate. Raspberries and strawberries are one
of the richest food sources of a phytochemical
compound called ellagic acid, which has
been shown in studies to be a powerful cancer
blocker. Cranberries and blueberries contain antibiotic-like
compounds that help prevent bladder and urinary
tract infection. And all berries contain high
amounts of pectin, a soluble fiber that has been
shown to be effective at lowering blood cholesterol
levels by binding with cholesterol and eliminating
it from the body.
vegetables (bok choy, broccoli, Brussels
sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage,
choy sum, gai lan, mustard greens, Swiss chard).
About 20 years ago studies first indicated that
a high consumption of cruciferous vegetables equaled
a reduced risk of certain cancers. Then in the
early 1990s a phytochemical called sulforaphane
was identified in cruciferous vegetables that
was found to guard against cancer by stimulating
the production of protective enzymes that detoxify
carcinogens (cancer causing compounds). In addition,
another compound was discovered called indol-3-carbinol
which was found to reduce breast cancer risk by
preventing estrogen overproduction. A Harvard
study even found that a high intake of cruciferous
vegetables, such as broccoli and cabbage, could
reduce bladder cancer risk in men. Cruciferous
vegetables are also a rich source of many other
potent disease-fighting substances including potassium,
calcium and dietary fiber. And broccoli and cabbage
are a good source of immune system boosting, antioxidant-rich
vitamin C. For example, one medium stalk of broccoli
provides 200 percent of the daily recommended
intake of vitamin C.
Carrots. Carrots are rich in beta
carotene, which is converted by the body into
Vitamin A, a nutrient essential for the proper
functioning of the retina of the eye. Beta carotene,
which is a powerful antioxidant, has also been
shown to improve immune function, inhibit the
early stages of tumor development and lower cholesterol
levels. In one study, participants who ate seven
carrots a day for three weeks dropped their cholesterol
levels by 11 percent. Carrots are also one of
the best vegetable sources of health-giving dietary
fiber, containing high amounts of both soluble
and insoluble fiber.
fruits (Oranges, lemons, limes, mandarins,
grape fruit, tangerines and tangelos). All citrus
fruits are a good source of flavonoidsa
special group of phytochemicals which have been
found to inhibit the growth of breast, prostate
and skin cancer cells. In addition, oranges and
tangelos are a rich source of a phytochemical
called 5-desmethyl sinensetin which has
been shown to effectively inhibit human lung cancer
cells. Citrus fruits, as we've always been told,
are also a good source of vitamin C (one orange,
for example, contains two times your daily requirement
for vitamin C). Vitamin C not only works as a
powerful free radical destroying antioxidant,
but also makes blood less likely to clot, which
reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke. Citrus
fruits also contain high amounts of a soluble
fiber called pectin which helps lower potentially
harmful LDL blood cholesterol levels.
Onions share many of garlic's health-giving properties.
They've been shown to boost good HDL cholesterol
levels while lowering potentially harmful LDL
cholesterol. They increase blood clot dissolving
activity in the blood, which reduces the risk
of heart attack and stroke. And studies have identified
a plant chemical in onions called quercetin
which is a powerful antioxidant.
peppers (capsicum). Bell peppers come
in many colors green, red, yellow, and even
orange. Their color depends on the variety and
their stage of ripeness. Red peppers are particularly
healthful because they are a rich source of the
powerful antioxidants vitamin C and beta carotene
(red peppers contain around 10 times more beta
carotene than green peppers). One 3½ ounce
red pepper contains the recommended daily allowance
of beta carotene and more than 3 times the recommended
daily allowance for vitamin C.
Avocados are one of the few fruits that are high
in fat. But unlike saturated fat, which can raise
potentially harmful LDL cholesterol levels, the
fat in avocados is mostly made up of heart-healthy
monounsaturated fat. Avocados also contain high
amounts of special phytochemical compounds called
phytosterols. Studies have shown that phytosterols
can inhibit cholesterol absorption from the intestine
which results in lower levels of LDL cholesterol
in the blood. In animal studies, phytosterols
have also been shown to inhibit the growth of
cancer tumors. In addition, avocados are a rich
source of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant vitamin
that protects your cells from free radical damage.
They also contain high amounts of folate which
has been shown to protect against heart disease
as well as prevent birth defects in pregnant women.
And they are one of the richest sources of the
mineral potassium, which helps to maintain the
stability of heart cells and the central nervous
can be used in a myriad of dishes including
pastas, stews, pizzas and salad dressings.
It can be rubbed raw onto toasted olive
oil brushed bread to create bruschetta
(Italian toasts). Garlic is also an
essential ingredient in many Asian dishes
such as stir-fries and curries.
are so many delicious ways to enjoy
tomatoes: as the base of a pizza or
pasta sauce; in salads and sliced fresh
onto sandwiches, subs or burgers; they
give texture and flavor to soups, stews
and curries; and sun-dried tomatoes
add a full-bodied taste to a wide range
berries sprinkled over cereals, added
to fruit salads, whipped up in a smoothie,
served with a scoop of your favorite
ice cream, or simply eaten by themselves
as a sweet and juicy snack.
avocado diced into salads and sandwiches,
blend them up with some lemon juice
and salt for an instant guacamole dip,
or try them Japanese-style in sushi
rolls with smoked salmon or shrimp.
A particularly good way to enjoy avocados
is as a healthy alternative to butter.
Simply mash some avocado in a cup or
bowl and smear it onto your sandwich
before you add the fillings.
vegetables add flavor, depth and texture
to a wide range of dishes from soups,
salads and stir-fries to curries,
stews and pasta dishes.
make a colorful and crunchy addition
to stir-fries and noodle dishes, they
taste wonderful finely chopped in
pasta dishes, shredded on sandwiches,
added to salads or simply eaten raw
as a snack.
fruits can be enjoyed in dozens of different
ways. Oranges, tangelos and tangerines
can be eaten by themselves, juiced or
chopped and mixed in with other fruits
to make a variety of fruit salads. Citrus
fruits also go well as a sweet addition
to savory salads. Lemon or lime juice
and zest can be used as a flavor enhancer
in a myriad of dishes such as curries,
pasta dishes and soups; and lemon juice
or lime juice adds a delightful tang
to salad dressings. Fresh lemon juice
squeezed over fish and shellfish is
also the perfect accompaniment.
chopped onions are used as the base
for a wide variety of Mediterranean
and Asian meals including risottos,
curries, pasta dishes, pilafs and paellas.
Thinly sliced raw onion adds a wonderful
boost to salads, sandwiches and burgers
(red onions are particularly good because
they're milder, sweeter and more colorful
than regular onions). And when whole
onions are roasted they lose their potency
and become sweet delicate vegetables.
peppers can be cut into thin strips
and lightly cooked in stir-fries,
or cooked until melt-in-the-mouth
tender in stews and pasta sauces.
Roasted and marinated peppers also
go wonderfully in an Italian antipasto
platter or a Middle Eastern meze platter.
And thinly sliced raw peppers make
a crunchy and colorful addition to
salads and sandwiches.
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