Consume Super Foods for Super Health and Disease Prevention

Copyright 2006 Frank Mangano

We all know that when it comes to nutrition, all foods are not made the same. Whole wheat flour is better than white flour, almonds are more nutritionally sound than peanuts, and grilling is a much healthier alternative form of cooking than frying.

When it comes to what we put in our bodies, we ought to be aiming for what the Man of Steel eats on a regular basis—super foods.

Super foods are not new to the marketplace. In fact, you may have lots of super foods in your pantry or refrigerator at this moment. What is new, however, is the realization of just how “super” these foods really are for our health and well-being through independent studies by health experts.

Super foods by definition are foods that are nutritionally dense, high in fiber and are believed to fight disease and increase longevity. And not surprisingly, most super foods are the ones you’ll find in nature that don’t require any kind of processing or refining. Take berries, for example. Every berry is considered “super” but a study done on blueberries and strawberries properties elicited some exciting results for berry lovers.

The study, published in the journal of Neurobiology and Aging, used 60 different rats and divided the rats into three groups. One group was fed strawberry extract, and the other was fed blueberry extract. The third was the control group and was not fed any berry extract. The rats were then released to run through a water maze, but not before they were exposed to a radioactive iron source which was meant to simulate age-related cognitive decline. After the run through was completed, results revealed that the control group showed significant impairment in learning ability, while the groups of rats that ate berry extract showed a resistance to cognitive decline.

While scientists who performed the study say more testing needs to be done, this study suggests that consuming berries protects the brain from radiation damage and decline in learning ability.

It’s believed that the chemical responsible for blueberries’ superpower is anthocyanin—what gives blueberries their color and may also play a role in their antioxidant activity. Blueberries, according to the USDA Human Research Center, are ranked #1 in antioxidant activity when compared to 40 other fruits and vegetables (Antioxidants help rid the body of cancer-causing free radicals).

Berries aren’t the only super foods with super properties. Just as Superman’s powers aren’t relegated solely to super speed or super strength, each super food brings with it its own special power:

Avocados—Avocados do have a considerable amount of fat in them, but the right kind of fat. Like olive oil, avocados have healthy amounts of monounsaturated fat which help lower “bad” cholesterol levels (LDL) while raising the “good” ones (HDL). Avocados are also great to combine with other foods as its properties help the body absorb nutrients from other nutrient-dense foods (like lycopene found in tomatoes, for example).

Beans— The old school days song of beans being good for your heart is true, thanks to the high amounts of betaine found in them. In addition, beans also have high amounts of lutein, which won’t bring x-ray vision, but will help in protecting your eyes from sunlight.

Dark Chocolate—Believe it or not, chocolate, the dark variety, can help lower blood pressure and improve blood flow. The special power dark chocolate has lies in its flavonoids, a type of anti-oxidant. Even though flavonoids are found in apples, tea, onions and peanuts, research indicates that dark chocolate has the highest level of flavonoids. That doesn’t mean you should go out and eat it to your heart’s delight, but you no longer need to attach “guilty” with the “pleasure” you’ll get out of eating moderate portions of dark chocolate each week.

Oats—Eating raw oats isn’t exactly an appetizing meal, but they’re quite appetizing in oatmeal. Oats are a great source of vitamins and minerals, have a low glycemic index level, are high in fiber, low in sugar and have been proven to reduce blood cholesterol levels.

This is just a partial list of the super foods that can bring you a life of abundant health. Remember: Eating exorbitant amounts of almonds or blueberries does not equal more health. As with all things, moderation is key.