Foods for Long Life and Well-Being
The time to start eating them is now.
Fiber for Your Whole Body
Once upon a time our diet was made up mostly of whole foods loaded with
fiber. While we may have fallen to a wild beast or infection, fiber helped keep
our cholesterol and blood sugar levels low, and kept our bowels functioning
Now in our frenzied lifestyle, we're more likely to grab fast food, or use
prepared foods at home that have only a passing acquaintance with dietary
fiber. It's a little known fact: Most of us should double the amount of fiber
we eat if we want to reap its benefits.
"None of us eats enough fiber," says William Hart. The average
American eats 12 grams of fiber a day; most health organizations recommend 20
to 35 grams.
By following the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, most consumers are advised to
get as many as nine servings a day of fruits and vegetables that will
contribute plenty of fiber.
Studies have shown that dietary soluble fiber - including foods such as
apples, barley, beans and other legumes, fruits and vegetables, oatmeal, oat
bran and brown rice -- clearly lower blood cholesterol. High-fiber foods are
also digested more slowly, so they don't cause spikes in blood sugar levels
like white bread, potatoes and sweets do. Of course, everyone knows that fiber
helps keep you regular, but so do laxatives. Fiber, however, has an added plus:
High-fiber foods help us feel full, making it easier to control weight.
You get more nutritional "bang for your buck" with high-fiber food,
Antioxidant "Superfoods" to Protect Your Cells and Heart
When you're thinking "superfoods," think color, says Beverly
Clevidence, PhD, a research leader at the USDA's Diet and Human Performance
Laboratory. That means foods that are deep blue, purple, red, green, or orange.
The carotenoids and anthocyanins that provide the color for these foods contain
health-enhancing nutrients that protect against heart disease and cancer, and
also improve our sense of balance, our memory, and other cognitive skills.
Your "superfoods" color chart should include:
- Deep green -- Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli may help prevent colon
cancer, while spinach and kale are good sources of calcium. And kale also helps
fight against age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness
in older Americans.
- Red -- Red tomatoes, especially when cooked, are beneficial sources of
lycopeine, which helps protect against prostate and cervical cancer.
- Orange/yellow - Squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, and yams promote healthy
lungs and help fight off skin cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma.
- Deep blue/purple - Eggplant, plums, blueberries, blackberries
(strawberries, raspberries, and cherries come under this category as well)
lower your risk of heart disease by helping the liver "sop up" extra
cholesterol, as well as improve your mental functioning.