|July 22, 2019|
In this issue of our newsletter:
Nature’s Best Medicine Foods That Fight Disease
By James A. Joseph, Ph.D., Daniel Nadeau, M.D., and Anne Underwood
From The Color Code: A Revolutionary Eating Plan for Optimum Health
Top scientists now believe that certain foods have medicinal powers and that the best diet for optimum health is low in fat and includes special compounds found in colorful fruits and vegetables. Studies show that a diet high in brightly colored produce can help guard against debilitating chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Cool-green kiwis, bright-red strawberries and zesty ripe oranges are loaded with disease-fighting phytochemicals. These substances in plants are known to ward off the dangers of radiation, bacteria, viruses and insects. Among the phytochemicals are pigments, which give plants their bright colors. When plants are consumed, these same substances serve as helpful antioxidants, compounds that trap harmful molecules in the body known as free radicals (naturally occurring by-products of metabolism that may damage nearby healthy cells). Because man originally consumed a plant-based diet, scientists believe that modern ailments like heart disease and cancer result in part from a shortage of phytochemicals.
What to eat for what ails you:
Cherries reduce inflammation better than aspirin.
Cranberries may help fight ulcers.
Citrus peel reduces skin cancer risk.
Carrots can cut chance of stroke.
Avocados help lower cholesterol.
Spinach protects the eyes from cataracts.
Blueberries may improve memory.
Grape juice may keep arteries clear.
Color Yourself Healthy!
Fruits and vegetables are divided into four broad color groups: red, orange0yelloy, green and blue-purple. The goal is to eat foods from each of these groups every. And because each group of these foods contains a unique set of phytochemicals, it’s best to choose as many colors as possible. Other richly colored foods like chocolate (cocoa beans), green tea and spices such as saffron, turmeric and paprika have hefty doses of phytochemicals, and all may be included as part of a healthful diet.
Besides adding visual appeal to a drab dinner, red foods have potent disease-fighting pigments as well as other benefical phytochemicals. Strawberries, cranberries, raspberries, cherries, red grapes, beets and red peppers all make the list of the most potent sources of antioxidants.
In addition to a high amount of vitamin C, folate and fiber, strawberries and raspberries contain a compound called ellagic acid, which has been shown in animal studies to protect against colon and esophageal tumor formation. Ellagic acid works by destroying carcinogenic substances in the body and making cancerous cells self destruct. In studies of rats, strawberries also helped protect against the mental decline that occurs with aging.
Cherries contain high levels of anthocyanins, a group of pigments that have well-known anti-inflammatory benefits and have been shown in the lab to work as well or better than asprin. Perhaps that’s why cherry juice has long been used as an effective folk remedy to treat arthritis pain and may protect against heart disease.
Tomatoes, guava, watermelon, papaya, and pink grapefruit contain a special red pigment called lycopene, which is thought to be one of the most potent free radical scavengers in nature. High intake of foods rich in the pigment has been shown to reduce dramically the risk of cancers in the prostrate and lungs. Intake of lycopene has been shown to reduce risk of stomach cancer as well as pancreatic, colorectal, esophageal, oral, breast and cervical tumor formation.
Cranberries, well known for preventing urinary tract infections, also may help fight other types of bacteria including salmonella and ulcer-causing H.pylori. A study at the University of Western Ontario showed that in mice, cranberries inhibited the incidence of breast tumors.
Yellow and orange are the ultimate comfort colors. They provoke images of warm sunshine, autumn leaves, cozy fires and fields of grain. Surround yourself with yellow and orange foods to feel comfort and get protection against cancer, heart disease, and blindness.
In a review of 206 human studies, carrots consistently emerged as one of the top cancer-fighting foods. The power of carrots lies in the group of pigments called carotenoids (beta-carotene is among this group), which give them their orange color. In a Harvard study of 124,207 health professionals, those with a diet rich in carotenoids had a 32 percent lower risk of lung cancer than those with a diet poor in the pigments. It has become clear that cancer-fighting compounds are meant to work in combination. The famous trials with beta-carotene supplements that indicated an increase in lung cancer in heavy smokers show that isolating a compound out of a food as a supplement may not offer the same protection as consuming the whole food. In addition to fighting cancer, carrots may dramatically cut risk of stroke and lower cholesterol levels by as much as 11 percent, the same reduction seen with cholesterol-lowering medication.
Oranges, lemons, and grapefruits, well known for having a high content of the antioxidant vitamin, are also rich in a flavonoid called hesperetin. As a heart-protecting, cancer-fighting, infection-stomping compound, hesperetin works in conjunction with the vitamin C in citrus fruits to keep you healthy. The Harvard Nurse’s Health Study, which included over 87,000 male and female nurses, found a 25 percent lower risk of stroke in those who drank one glass of orange juice a day. Studies indicate that whole citrus fruits may reduce stomach, mouth, esophageal and breast cancer. Researchers in Italy found that hesperetin lowers hypertension, increases “good” cholesterol and lowers the “bad,” or LDL, cholesterol. Hesperetin works in part by restricting the liver’s production of one major constituent of LDL cholesterol. Another compound called limonene, found in the peel of citrus fruits, is thought to reduce risk of squamous cell carcinoma. So adding some lemon or orange zest to recipes may help stave off skin cancer.
Yellow corn contains two carotenoids called lutein and zeaxanthin, which give corn its golden hue. Like other carotenoids, they help fight heart disease and cancer. Lutein and zeaxanthin also play a distinct role as antioxidants, protecting the eye from macular degeneration, one of the leading causes of blindness in the elderly. Yellow corn is a rich source, but white corn lacks the carotenoids.
Pumpkin (and its seeds), squah, apricots, sweet potatoes and bananas are some other yellow-orange foods that contain phytochemincals with apparent anticancer properties.
Green is the color of life. Thanks to green grass, trees and plants, we are able to survive; they provide food and oxygen to nourish and sustain us. In addition, green fruits and vegetables contain a bounty of life-giving phytochemicals.
Spinach, kale and other dark leafy greens contain high amounts of the phytochemicals lutein and zeaxanthin and other pigments that are strong protectors of the eyes. Consuming these foods may reduce chances of macular degeneration and cataracts, which tend to develop as you age.
Despite the fact that avocados are high in calories and fat, there are many reasons to enjoy small amounts of the fruit (often mistaken for a vegetable). Avocados contain cholesterol-lowering substances called phyosterols, which actually block the absorption of the cholesterol we consume from animal sources. The result is a lowering of the amount of cholesterol in the bloodstream. Phytosterols also inhibit excessive cell division, thus reducing cancer growth and fighting plaque that causes hardened arteries. Use avocados in place of mayonnaise on sandwiches or make guacamole to use as a salad dressing.
Broccoli is truly a wonder, with its rich store of protective phytochemicals. The compounds it contains combat numerous diseases, especially cancer. Decades of research has shown that broccoli, along with cruciferous vegetables like kale, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, contains a substance called sulforaphane that may help protect against colon, breast, lung, prostate and stomach cancer. Sulforaphane kills cancerous cells and halts the growth of tumors. Broccoli sprouts, which look similar to other sprouts, are one of the richest sources of sulforaphane. Use them on salads or in sandwiches for a potent phytochemical-filled lunch.
Just as the clear blue sky and crystal blue waters relax you and reduce stress, so do the blue and purple foods. Blue foods have intense doses of protective pigments called anthocyanins, which zap damaging free radicals in the body before harm is done.
Blueberries are a storehouse of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. With a high concentration of phytochemicals, they may help prevent chronic ailments like heart disease and cancer, and they also seem to help reverse some aspects of brain aging. In a Tufts University study, rats fed a diet supplemented with the equivalent of ½ to 1 cup of blueberries daily had improved memory function, coordination and balance during a series of tests. The blueberry-fed rats developed more brain cells with stronger signals between cells and less damaged proteins within the brain than rats fed the standard diet. Researchers suspect that blueberries may help in treating diseases like Alzheimer’s and in providing an improved quality of life for the elderly.
Grape juice and red wine are true elixirs of heart health. The flavonoids, found in the juice of purple grapes may help stop plaque formation in blood vessels, keep arteries elastic and inhibit clot formation. These are all very important functions for reducing the onset of coronary artery disease. An added benefit of moderate alcohol intake (about 5 ounces of win per day) is an increased production of good cholesterol.
Dried plums (prunes), plums and eggplant are other members of the blue-purple group with good amounts of phytochemicals. In fact, thanks to the purple pigment in the skin, plums score in the top 10 highest antioxidant fruits.
Spectacular Seasonings and Sips
A spice called turmeric, an important ingredient in curry, has long been used in India to improve digestion, treat heart disease and heal wounds. Turmeric contains a bouquet of cancer-fighting compunds including the yellow migment curcumin, shown to fight colon polps and possibly colon cancer. Research into the use of curcumin for intestinal ailments such as colitis and inflammatory bowel disease is under way with early promising results. Cumin is a spice with high concentrations of phytochemicals shown to suppress pancreatic cancer in animal studies.
Sprinkling food with herbs does more than just add flavor. Herbs such as sage, thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil and mint contain a variety of phytochemicals that may fight cancer. Fresh herbs are the best at delivering phytochemicals, but even dried herbs retain some. Although you don’t get a lot of phytochemicals with a sprinkling of herbs, small doses can really add up!
Green tea has gotten a lot of positive press due to mounting evidence that it can help prevent heart disease, stroke and cancer. The protective effects are thanks to compounds in tea called polyphenols. Black tea has been shown to be just as effective as green tea in protecting against cancer and heart disease. Studies show that one to two cups a day can cut risk of hardened arteries by 46 percent and drinking four cups a day will cut it by 70 percent. In Japan and China, where tea consumption is high, rates of stomach, esophageal and liver cancers are very low.
Eating by Color
Now that you know the many health benefits of eating colorful fruits and vegetables, start adding these foods to your diet. By increasing your intake of mostly low-fat, low-calorie fruits and vegetables, you’ll edge out the less healthful choices. Fruit snacks will replace doughnuts. Tea will oust sodas. Make changes gradually by replacing one or two desserts or snacks with a fruit or vegetable and advancing until you’re eating the most colorful diet possible. It’s worth the effort. In addition to fighting againg, following a colorful eating plan can help you lose weight and trim fat-an inevitable outcome of replacing junk foods with fruits and vegetables. Per gram, produce has fewer calories and less fat. That means you can eat a whole lot of food and lose weight.
For Your Better Health,
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