Espoused by Hippocrates more than 2500 years ago, the statement, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,” has never been more relevant that it is today. The presence of pesticides in today’s foods, the startling depletion of soil quality, and increases in disease prevalence reignited public interest in healthier foods – particularly organic foods and those shown to have physiological benefits that include preventing disease and staving off the signs of aging. Known as functional foods, these fruits, vegetables, and ingredients provide benefits to one’s health beyond the nutrients they contain.
Avocado is the Super Fruit
Rich in antioxidants, avocados fight free radicals, which can increase the health of the body’s organs and tissues that are susceptible to disease. Because this refreshing fruit is chock full of foliate and potassium, it also decreases the risks of stroke and heart attack. High levels of vitamin E may help stave off the signs of aging, while elevated levels of monosaturated fats battle bad cholesterol, medically known as low-density lipoprotein, or LDL.
Garlic for Cancer Prevention and Heart Health
Remarkably, garlic’s medicinal properties largely stem from its release of allyl-sulphur compounds that cause that telltale pungent odor – yet overlooking the odor for the health benefits is wise. One extensive Iowa Women’s Health study of 41,000 middle-aged women evidenced a 35 percent reduction in the risk of developing colon cancer. Other studies indicate that garlic can help prevent the growth of cancerous tumor cells, particularly those of the stomach and prostate. Science is discovering a strong correlation between using garlic to lower triglycerides, blood pressure, and to prevent the clogging of blood vessels.
Oats: Simple and Healthy
Coronary heart disease is a leading cause of death, and oats are a quick and cost-efficient way to boost one’s health to prevent onset. As an excellent source of b-glucan soluble fiber, rolled oats reduce LDL cholesterol – a primary contributor to heart disease. Beginning a day with a bowl of oatmeal or snacking on rolled oats mixed with dried fruits and nuts provides a solid energy boost and staves off snack cravings, which is beneficial to those trying to lose weight quickly and healthily. Avoid instant oatmeal – it’s often high in sugar and preservatives.
Flax Seeds: A Leading Source of Omega 3’s
Like oats, flax seeds reduce LDL’s and lower blood pressure to foster a healthy coronary system. These tiny seeds contain more Omega 3 fatty acids than any other seed in nature. Tasty, and easy to grind and sprinkle onto most foods, flax seeds are rich in lignin, which is indicated to reduce the risks of breast cancer. Active research studies show a promising correlation between intake of flax seeds and other lignin-containing substances and the reduction of tumors in the colon, lungs, and mammary glands.
This is only a small sampling of identified functional foods, and there are many others to consider including tomatoes, cruciferous vegetables, nuts, cranberry, and even specific types of teas. Revamp those unhealthy eating habits with a whole foods diet that includes these disease prevention foods to enjoy a longer, healthier life.
Lynn Louis has always been health minded and an advocate of healthy diets that incorporate lots of whole foods. Now a stay at home mom, her passion for a healthy lifestyle has new meaning. She works from home, promoting active lifestyles with healthy eating habits. Those looking for fun getaways in the Texas Hill Country can visit www.thehighlandlakes.org for information on activities, lodging and healthy dining options.