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Thursday, February 19, 2009

14 Foods That'll Change Your Life

14 Foods That'll Change Your Life
By Staff eDiets

We try to eat healthier in order to improve our health... and because we want to look like a million bucks! But lost in all this diet chatter is that certain foods have a real impact on your daily well-being. In fact, their benefits can be so powerful that they help you even if you're doing other things you shouldn't (such as smoking).

Now, don't take that as an invitation to be lazy about your health. It's just an illustration of how powerful some foods can be. The well-known mantra "You are what you eat" has lost its bite a little because it's been so overused. But in reality, it couldn't be more true. Every time you put something in your mouth, you're making a decision that affects your body for the rest of your life.

Scary? Maybe. But it might just be the shock you need to get your health on track.

Don't despair: It's superfoods to the rescue! Authors Steven Pratt, M.D., and Kathy Matthews have written SuperFoods Rx to help you learn how to live longer and happier. In the book, they put forth the statistic that estimates 300,000 to 800,000 preventable deaths per year in the United States are related to nutrition. You don't have to be one of them. Here's their list of the "Elite 14 Foods":

Beans, beans, they're good for your heart. The more you eat, the more you'll... LIVE! It's not just talk. Beans are good for the heart... and a bunch of other things, too. There's evidence that they prevent cancer, level your blood sugar and give you a sense of being full, which keeps you from overeating.

These little gems have been neglected for many years in favor of other more "popular" fruit. But now that we know more about antioxidants and how they reverse degenerative diseases, this flavonoid-rich food will have you aging gracefully.

Mom told you to eat your broccoli. And this time, her advice was right. It's also super effective in fighting cancer.

In 1997, the FDA started to allow the labeling of oatmeal, oat bran and oat flour products as being connected to a reduced risk for coronary heart disease. Among its other benefits is the ability to help control your blood sugar levels.

They may not be very exciting or exotic, but this old standby sure lives up to its reputation as a healthy favorite. Yet, even with its supposed popularity, Americans still are lacking in vitamin C. Because it is rapidly excreted from your body, constant replenishment is a must.

There's nothing wrong with a glass of OJ. But eating the orange is even better because its pulp has 10 times the vitamin C dosage found in the juice.

It's not just for the holidays anymore. High in fiber and low in calories, pumpkin has some of the highest levels of carotenoids, which function as antioxidants and help beat the effects of aging.

Fish of all kinds are fantastic. And you should try to get some two to four times a week. After going through a long period of fat phobia, we've now come to realize that not all fats are created equal. Some are not only good for you, but they are also an essential ingredient in a healthy diet. Salmon is one of the richest sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which can protect against a multitude of diseases.

The new kid on the block, relatively speaking, soy has long been a secret of the Far East. It's the total package, rich with vitamins, minerals, plant-based omega-3s and disease-fighting phytonutrients. Is tofu just not for you? Well, there are many other ways to incorporate soy into your diet.

  • Soy milk is a rich and creamy alternative to dairy.
  • Try a soy protein shake.
  • Eat soy nuts as snacks.
  • Some breakfast cereals contain soy-enriched ingredients.

We learned as children that this leafy green wonder gave Popeye his "mus-cools." But it carries much more than iron. Just a few of the many added benefits include beta carotene, vitamins B, C and E, calcium and magnesium.

Tea (green or black)
It's relaxing, has no calories and comes with health benefits. Tea is an anti-allergy, anti-inflammatory superfood that has been linked to heart health, cancer and stroke prevention, and lowered blood pressure. All of this in a cheap, no-calorie treat -- you can't beat that!

If you don't have a major aversion to them, tomatoes are yet another superfood. Even though tomato season is short, you can get some of the same veggie benefits from ketchup and tomato sauce. Aside from all the vitamins, tomatoes are disease fighters. Like some of the other superfoods, they help fight cancer and heart ailments.

Stick to the skinless breast and you have a winner of a meal. One of the best low-fat protein sources you can eat. Need we say more?

Although nuts can be high in calories, don't let that discourage you from one of the most nutritious snacks around. Walnuts head the list because they are one of the few rich sources of plant-derived omega-3 fatty acids. Besides the fiber and protein, the plant sterols contained in walnuts help with cholesterol levels.

This is a great snack for work. It has calcium and other nutrients. But what makes yogurt a superfood is the presence of prebiotics and probiotics -- living organisms that promote gastrointestinal health. Oh, and yogurt tastes good, too!


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