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Jan 19, 2010

20 Foods You Should Be Eating


On the heels of the recent New York Times article about the 11 foods you should be eating (but aren't), the UK's TimesOnline has come up with a list of 20 "superfoods [that] could help you to live a healthier, flat-bellied and longer life." Written by Amanda Ursell, it's a pretty good list--although to the average American one or two things might seem a bit suspect (Baked Beans on Toast? Really?)

Here's the list, complete with British spelling:

  1. Baked beans: Great for soluble fibre (the type that helps to lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels), baked beans also give you 6g of protein per average serving; about the same as in a medium-size egg. Have them on toast, with a baked potato or, if you absolutely must, straight from the can.
  2. Green tea: Swap a couple of cups of your builder’s brew a day for green tea. Especially rich in polyphenols, green tea antioxidants have antibacterial and antithrombotic roles, and regulate the immune system. The lazy man’s solution to boosting antioxidants, which may also help to fight tooth decay.
  3. Oily fish: Fling fresh sardines under the grill, or have them from a can; either way, like mackerel, salmon and anchovies, they are great for omega-3 oils, which seem to make platelets in the blood less likely to clump together and cause a clot.
  4. Parsley: Chew on some after a meal and this herb, which is rich in chlorophyl, can help to keep your breath fresh and mop up pongy odours; vital if out on the town after eating. Also good for vitamin C, a vital antioxidant that helps to protect sperm from free-radical attack.
  5. Apples: With an astonishing 150 supernutrients packed into each apple you eat, this easy-to-transport, easy-to-eat, no-waste fruit is especially good for quercetin, an antioxidant that appears from laboratory research to help to kill off viruses such as herpes, which causes cold sores. Quercetin sits just under the skin so never peel your apples before eating.
  6. Grapefruit: It is said that eating a grapefruit before each meal helps you to cut calorie intake in the meal itself, possibly because it slightly lowers blood sugar and makes participants feel more satisfied. Grapefruits also give you glucaric acid, a supernutrient known to lower “bad”, artery-clogging cholesterol.
  7. Tomatoes: This vegetable is packed with the red pigment lycopene, the main antioxidant in the prostate gland. Studies reveal that men eating tomatoes (or tomato products such as purée, juice and soup) ten or more times a week have a 35 per cent reduced risk of developing prostate cancer.
  8. Pomegranates: You don’t need to fiddle around with fresh pomegranates. Israeli scientists found that men drinking only a couple of gulps (100ml) of this powerful juice each day for 12 months helped to reverse artery damage. This may be down to the fruit’s increasing production of paraoxonase, a cholesterol-breaking enzyme.
  9. New potatoes: A baked potato gives you fast-release energy, making it a great post-workout, muscle-refuelling food. If you are not an exercise nut, new potatoes are a better option. They provide slow-release energy to keep blood sugar levels and appetite under control between normal meals.
  10. Oats: Have them in muesli or porridge, Oatibix or oatmeal. Full of the soluble fibre called beta glucan, which lowers “bad” cholesterol, they also give us silica, a trace mineral believed to be vital for good- quality skin, metrosexual or otherwise.
  11. Poached eggs: Eggs give us lecithin, which is turned into choline once eaten, a vital component of transmitters in our brains involved in memory. This brain-boosting food is also fabulously filling — eat two for breakfast (poached or boiled, not fried) and, according to research, you will eat 400 calories less during the rest of the day.
  12. Frozen peas: The ultimate convenience food, frozen peas lock in the B vitamins needed for a healthy nervous system, plus soluble fibre to help to fill you up and keep cholesterol under control. A 140g portion gives you 16mg of immune-boosting vitamin C, about as much as you will get in a satsuma.
  13. Prunes: Blend them with milk and yoghurt to make an antioxidant-rich, free-radical- zapping drink that also gives ferulic acid, a supernutrient associated with bowel health. The special sugars in prunes will also help to keep you regular and potentially help to resist bowel cancer.
  14. Dark chocolate: The dark varieties (above 70 per cent cocoa solids) are rich in antioxidants. Studies have shown that flavanol-packed cocoa acts in an “aspirin-like” way to stop blood cells clumping together.
  15. Frozen berries: An easy way to increase potential brain- boosting, anti-ageing antioxidants to help to keep you ahead of the game on the work front. Throw them into smoothies or defrost and mix with yoghurt for breakfast.
  16. Olives: Put on home-made pizzas or eaten as a bar snack, olives are good for monounsaturated fats, phenolics and vitamin E, which are all important for artery health and long life.
  17. Almonds: Ditch cholesterol-raising snacks such as biscuits and cakes and trade them in for a fistful of almonds. Research shows that this will help you to feel full and cut back on artery-clogging fats.
  18. Chillies: These are sure to raise your metabolism: the hotter you can stand, the more their effect. Expect a 15 per cent increase in calories burnt for about two hours after eating a hot chilli sauce.
  19. Wholewheat pasta: The ultimate filling — and so easy to cook. The wholewheat variety has a lower glycaemic index than plain and releases energy slowly. Good for sportsmen who need muscles packed with energy.
  20. Turmeric: As used liberally in Gordon Ramsay’s recipes, this is a great source of curcumin, which is believed to have anti-inflammatory effects and may help to fight bowel cancer. For Indian takeaways, choose healthy dishes such as tandoori chicken and chicken tikka, which provide turmeric but don’t have loads of fat.
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