These antioxidant-rich items have the power
to change your life
By Jill Wendholt Silva
BEANS Knight Ridder News Service
Why? Beans can help lower
cholesterol and LDL levels, scavenge TOMATOES
free radicals, moderate insulin levels, Why? Tomatoes contain lycopene plus beneficial
and reduce cancer risk. Blueberries are brain food. phytochemicals that protect against heart attack,
cancers, and age-related macular degeneration.
How much? Eat a ½-cup serving a
day of cooked or canned beans. If there’s one good-for-you food that has cut through the din Cooked tomatoes contain more lycopene than raw
of conflicting and controversial diet headlines, it’s the tiny indigo How much? Eat one serving a day with a little bit
of healthy fat, such as olive oil, to help absorb the
berry native to North America, which scientists have discovered lycopene. Serving sizes are one medium raw
tomato, about 1 cup cherry tomatoes, or 6 ounces
contains powerful disease-fighters that may improve memory, juice.
intelligence, and coordination.
But blueberries aren’t the only food with bragging rights. WALNUTS
Pomegranates, kiwifruit, and, yes, even dark chocolate are Why? Walnuts
are one of the few
the latest buzz, joining such everyday foods as broccoli, spinach, plant sources high
in omega-3 fatty
wild salmon, sweet potatoes, soy, oats, walnuts, and tomatoes. acids, and the only
nuts that contain
Together these nutrient-dense foods containing health-promoting ellagic acid, a
Why? A true nutritional powerhouse,
blueberries provide more antioxidants
phytonutrients are being dubbed “super foods.” cancer-fighting
than any other fruit or vegetable and can Super foods are widely available foods that contribute to good arginine can
fight cancer, heart disease, and age-
related memory loss. health. reduce the risk of
How much? If possible, eat ½-cup of
fresh or frozen or ¼-cup of dried Cruise the aisles of any supermarket in America, and broccoli How much? Eat 1½ ounces of nuts per day.
One ounce equals 14 walnut halves.
blueberries every day. Eat any type of
berry at least three times a week. is ubiquitous for three reasons: it’s easy to buy, it’s inexpensive,
and it’s easy to cook. It’s also one of the most studied foods, which
is how we know it’s one of the most nutritious items on the planet.
Beyond the traditional vitamins and minerals Mother told us
about, scientists have discovered broccoli is also a good source of
lutein, an antioxidant that helps prevent macular degeneration, a
condition that can cause blindness in older adults.
But not all super foods are as obvious. Nutrition experts
agree we’ve only begun to scratch the surface in our efforts to
discover how foods prevent disease in the body.
BROCCOLI Naked Juice, a California company, is already marketing WILD SALMON
Why? Wild salmon contains large amounts of
Why? Cruciferous vegetables are loaded
with antioxidants. Broccoli contains grab-and-go bottles of juice made from the obscure Brazilian berry omega-3, a fatty acid that reduces the risk of
cancer-fighting substances that promote heart disease and heart attack by lowering
eye health and ward off macular known as acai (pronounced ah-sigh-ee), which is touted to have 10 blood pressure and cholesterol. Omega-3s
degeneration. also reduce inflammation that triggers arthritis
How much? Eat ½-cup of raw or 1 cup of
times the antioxidants of red grapes. and autoimmune diseases.
How much? A serving is just 3 ounces,
cooked broccoli every day. But typically Brazilians pour an avalanche of sugar on acai to roughly the size of a deck of cards, or ¼ cup
canned. Eat 12 ounces a week.
tame its tartness. Naked Juice chose to combine the tart berry
juice with sweeter apple, banana, and white grape juices.
In 12 Best Foods Cookbook (Rodale, 2004, $21.95), Dana
Jacobi highlights foods that are not only loaded with phytonutrients OLIVE OIL
but also that have what she calls a certain “voluptuousness.” After Why? The
all, if a food doesn’t taste good, most of us won’t eat it no matter fats of olive oil are
how good it is for us. fats that reduce
“I tried to look at foods beyond what its headline fame might disease, lower
be,” says Jacobi, a New York-based food writer and chef who and prevent some
types of cancer.
developed the recipes for her book. “These 12 foods cover the How much? Eat 1
whole range of what a balanced diet is and include variety.”
Why? Oatmeal’s already mighty nutrition profile
is well documented. “What I hope (readers) take from the book is the things that
How much? Eat at least three servings of
whole grains a day. A serving equals 1 cup of
are good for them and have a good time with them. Not to have
cooked oatmeal, ½-cup of uncooked rolled oats
or ½-cup of steel-cut oats.
them feel like this is a duty or a sacrifice,” Jacobi says.
Food, after all, should taste better than a spoonful of
Why? Loaded with beta-
carotene, sweet potatoes
boost the immune DARK CHOCOLATE
system, reduce Why? Dark chocolate has the highest antioxidant
SOY cholesterol buildup in the content of any food. The darker the chocolate, the
Why? Soy contains isoflavones, an estrogen-like arteries, and help fight higher the count.
substance that protects and maintains bone strength, plus age-related macular How much? Eat a 1-ounce serving daily. Also, try
SPINACH degeneration and a variety of cancers.
omega-3 fatty acids, which promote heart health. grapes, red wine, and green tea, which are high in
Why? Spinach is packed with carotenoids How much? Eat at least one ½-cup serving of sweet
How much? Eat one serving of soy foods a day. Try polyphenols that boost good cholesterol.
such as beta-carotene and lutein for eye potatoes or other beta-carotene-rich produce (carrots,
edamame for snacking out of hand.
health, as well as iron. butternut squash, pumpkin, and orange bell peppers) a
How much? Eat at least 1 cup cooked day.
spinach or dark leafy green vegetable a day.