Monday, September 04, 2006

health food

The same issue of the AARP mag that had the articles on Living Longer also had one on five foods that are particularly good for you. I'd never heard of Spirulina, the one that leads off the list. Since it's short, I'll give the whole thing:

5 Foods That Can Add Years to Your Life
, by Donna Jackson Nakazawa

New research suggests that including a combination of antioxidants on your plate yields a more powerful advantage than eating any one type of antioxidant-rich food alone. Try to make the following foods a part of your daily diet:

1. Spirulina (blue-green algae) Spirulina contains not only the antioxidant phycocyanin but also a bundle of protein, plus omega fatty acids. Once a mainstay food of the Aztecs, spirulina additionally works as an ibuprofenlike nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory. Add one teaspoon to one tablespoon of spirulina a day to smoothies or yogurt, or take it in capsule form. Caution: for some people, spirulina can be overstimulating (kind of like too much coffee), so experiment to find the right balance. [Note: There is little empirical evidence for spirulina's health benefits. For some indications of its nutritional value, see this site.]

2. Cranberries, blueberries, blackberries These are jam-packed with antioxidants called anthocyanins and polyphenols, which also have anti-inflammatory qualities. Try to work in a cup of berries a day.

3. Leafy greens (such as kale or spinach) They're full of lutein, another super-antioxidant; it's been proven to protect against macular degeneration of the optic nerves, thus protecting eyesight. Scientists recommend eating a cup of cooked kale or one to two cups of raw spinach each day.

4. Almonds and walnuts These nuts are a fantastic source of omega-6 fatty acids, as well as phytosterols (plant sterols) and vitamin E (tocopherols). People who regularly consume nuts tend to have both a lowered risk of Parkinson's and lower cholesterol. Try to eat a quarter cup of these nuts a day whenever you can.

5. Flaxseed It contains fiber and omega-3 fatty acids that help to clear plaque and bad fats from the cardiovascular system. The fiber also protects against colon cancer. For best results, buy flaxseed ground (or grind it yourself) and throw one teaspoon to one tablespoon a day into everything from meat loaf to muffins.

Finally, don't forget to add these superfoods into a diet rich with lean meat, fish, and whole grains.

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