'Superfoods' Everyone Needs
Experts say dozens of easy-to-find 'superfoods' can help ward off heart disease, cancer, cholesterol, and more.
Soy -- Superfood to Lower Cholesterol
A study reported in The Journal of the American Medical Association
(2003) showed that a diet of soy fiber, protein from oats and barley, almonds,
and margarine from plant sterols lowered cholesterol as much as statins, the
most widely prescribed cholesterol medicine. "Look for tofu, soy milk, or
edamame -- not soy powder," says Somer. In other words, soy sauce won't do the
trick. One caveat: If you have a family history of breast cancer it is not
recommended that you eat extra soy.
Fiber -- Superfood Aids Weight Loss and Checks Cholesterol
A diet high in fiber will help you maintain healthy cholesterol and blood
sugar levels. As a bonus, because fiber helps you feel full longer, it's a
great tool in weight management. Whole grains, beans, fruit, and vegetables are
all good sources. Try throwing some beans in your salad, recommends Kulze.
"Fresh, frozen, or dried are the best. You can use canned, but they tend to be
higher in sodium," Kulze warns.
Tea -- Superfood for Lowering Cholesterol and Inhibiting Cancer
"The overall antioxidant power of black tea is the same as green tea," says
Kulze, "but green tea does have ECGC, a powerful antioxidant that we really do
think is quite special." A recent Japanese study on green tea found that men
who drank green tea regularly had lower cholesterol than those who didn't.
Researchers in Spain and the United Kingdom have also shown that ECGC can
inhibit the growth of cancer cells. For a double health whammy, replace sugary
sodas with tea.
OK, OK, you know the drill: Calcium helps build strong bones and prevents
osteoporosis. Look for it in dairy products or supplements. Added bonus: Some
studies show that calcium helps with weight loss. Here are the calcium levels
recommended for adults by the USDA:
- Age 9 to 18 -- 1,300 mg
- Age 19 to 50 -- 1,000 mg
- Age 51 and over -- 1,200 mg
And Finally, the Yummiest Superfood Yet ... Dark Chocolate
New research has shown that dark chocolate is packed with antioxidants and
can lower blood pressure. Kulze recommends that you look for chocolate with 60%
or higher cocoa content; the darker, the better. In addition, the darker it is,
the lower the fat and sugar content. Now that's our kind of health food!
Published February 2007.