There is a lot of confusion about what food is good to eat. Here are the top 10 foods you should try to eat.
Americans should avoid taking their cues from the USDA’s food pyramid, which is the product of interest-group politics. Matter of fact, if you use the Standard American Diet acronym (SAD) that is exactly what you get – a “SAD” diet. I do not recommend following the food pyramid.
Instead, I think you should follow a Mediterranean-style diet rich with fruits, vegetables, fish, olive and nut oils, focusing on the following 10 foods in particular. Although I think it is a must to take supplements* for optimal health, many people ask if they can “just eat food” to be healthy.
In my opinion, because of the lack of nutrients in food today, you cannot get everything you need without “supplementation,” but here are a couple of suggestions:
- Cherries—Cherries are packed with anti-inflammatory properties. They contain antioxidants, thought to help the body protect against the damaging effects of free radicals and the chronic diseases associated with the aging process. This is probably my single favorite food for people that suffer with arthritis. I recommend 6-8 cherries (fresh, frozen, dried, or pure cherry juice).
- Blueberries—Like cherries, blueberries contain antioxidants found to promote heart health. A 2009 study showed that rats fed blueberries lost belly fat, the kind of fat linked to diabetes and heart disease.
- Kiwi Fruit—This tart little green fruit, with its soft, hairy skin and seeds you can swallow, is chock full of vitamin C–a whopping 115% of what you need to eat in a day. It’s also low in calories–just 45 per fruit sans skin.
- Beef—unlike mass-produced cows raised in feedlots, free-range cows nibble grass and avoid the ravages of hormones, steroids and antibiotics. Grass-fed beef is full of omega-3 fatty acids. Some say beef’s bad rap comes from highly processed varieties like McDonald’s hamburgers and ballpark franks. “Grass-fed beef is a whole different animal.”
- Wild Salmon—Even more so than grass-fed beef, wild salmon is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, associated with heart and brain health, and with bringing down blood pressure and triglycerides, a risk factor for heart disease. Omega-3s have also been found to improve mood and reduce inflammation.
- Flax Seed—Also a tremendous source of omega-3 fatty acids, flax seed has been shown to contain powerful anti-cancer compounds called lignans. Flax is also a great source of fiber, which enhances digestion. Try throwing it into your next smoothie or sprinkling on a salad. You can really not have too much fiber.
- Whey—Little Miss Muffett knew what she was doing when she ate her curds and whey. A run-off of the cheese-making process, whey in powder form can be a great source of protein. It’s also been shown to stimulate the immune system. So get off your tuffett and try sprinkling some in your next smoothie.
- Vegetable Royalty (Kale)—A member of the cabbage family, kale has been dubbed “vegetableroyalty.” Kale contains indoles, a compound found to fight cancer. Kale is also full of sulforaphane, another cancer-prevention agent. Plus, Kale contains calcium, iron and vitamins A, C and K, and two nutrients that are great for the eyes, including zeaxanthin.
- Dark Chocolate—Rich with a phytochemical called flavanol, found by a 2005 study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology to improve cardiovascular health. Look for chocolate with at least 60% cocoa content.
- Broccoli—Broccoli and related vegetables such as cabbage and Brussels sprouts naturally contain a chemical known as glucobrassicin. When these vegetables are crushed by chewing, a chemical reaction transforms glucobrassicin into indole-3-carbinol (I3C). In laboratory studies, I3C has been found to have tumor-suppressing effects, which may partially explain broccoli’s cancer-fighting properties. But the story doesn’t end there: When broccoli is digested, two molecules of I3C combine to form a single molecule of 3, 3’-diindolylmethane (DIM). DIM, like I3C, has been linked to cancer-fighting properties in laboratory studies, and also to immune-boosting effects. The I3C/DIM story provides a telling example of why eating healthy foods is always superior to taking extracts or other synthetic food-derived products.