Power foods: Eating for disease prevention

Research shows there is a direct link between what you eat and conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Although there are many risk factors that can determine whether you may be diagnosed, nutrition is one of the risk factors you can control. So, let’s talk power foods!

Power foods

Power foods

These are foods that provide more than just vitamins and minerals. Power foods supply phytochemicals – natural antioxidants – that are linked with disease prevention. And, before you ask ‘can I take a supplement?’ the answer is no. Research shows that the benefits from phytochemicals are really most effective when they are introduced through the diet – in their ‘whole’ form.

While there are many varieties of fresh foods out there that offer disease protection, the following are only a selected few of the top choices available:

Power food #1: Swiss chard

Green leafy vegetables are loaded with lutein, a phytochemical linked with a lower risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. While leafy greens are best recognized for their ability to protect our eyes, Swiss chard is one leafy green that goes beyond.

Studies show that this vegetable reduces the risk of gastric, ovarian and lung cancer – and this may be due to Swiss chard’s generous vitamin A, C and folate content. We should all be eating at least one serving of green leafy vegetables every day.

Power food #2: brussels sprouts

It’s time to learn to love this vegetable. And if this is not possible, then simply choose from the Cruciferous vegetable family: Cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy (or pak choi), broccoli, and kale.

This group receives praises for its high concentration of cancer-fighting chemicals called glucosinates. Studies suggest that eating more of these vegetables can reduce the risk of breast, pancreatic, prostate and lung cancer.

Power food #3: pomegranates

This vibrant red fruit has received much more attention in the last few years. In addition to vitamin C and potassium, pomegranate seeds also contain polyphenols, antioxidants that benefit the heart and slow the progression of prostate cancer.

Preliminary studies have also found that drinking pomegranate juice daily can lower blood pressure and LDL (bad) cholesterol. Enjoy a half-cup daily to reap some of these benefits.

Power food #4: black beans

It’s time to go vegetarian…at least once a week for those meat eaters out there! Black beans are a great meat alternative that do a lot more than just add protein to your meals.

Black beans are loaded with soluble fiber, folate (a B vitamin, and magnesium – nutrients thought to protect your heart. The carbohydrates in black beans (and any beans for that matter) are slowly released (low-glycemic), which may improve blood sugar control in Type 2 diabetes.

Power food #5: quinoa

For those of you who don’t know, quinoa is high in protein and gluten-free. Pronounced ‘keen-ooah’, this whole-grain is loaded with fiber, folate, vitamin E, magnesium and selenium.

Studies suggest that a steady intake of whole grains, like quinoa, can help protect from heart disease, and lower risks for Type 2 diabetes, colon cancer and obesity.

Adding a new food to your diet can create interest and keep you motivated when it comes to creating a healthier lifestyle.

I urge you all to try at least one of these power foods and feel confident that you are doing something to better your life and keep your body healthy!