The words “You are what you eat” always seem to pop into my head whenever I find myself indulging in one of my guilty food pleasures. Mostly it’s when I’m overtired or stressed that I reach for one of my favorite comfort foods. It’s like a “high” in the beginning with each spoonful of yummy goodness––almost as if it’s washing away all the cares of the world. However, by the end of my splurge, even though I’m overly full (stuffed!), I feel empty and unsatisfied. I’m in need of more, and yet feeling absolutely horrible that I ate such an unhealthy and not very nourishing food that I almost feel sick! Do you ever feel like that?
But the decision is ours. In the end we choose whether we stop at the fast-food drive-in window, or we go home to our vegetables and fruit. Hard decision? Yes, it is! If it’s any consolation to you, I struggle too. It’s not always easy to eat what’s good for you, even when you’re body is starving for it.
In a report by ABC News entitled Fast Food: A Fast Track to Liver Damage?, states that bad nutrition has the same impact on the liver that drinking alcohol does. It can cause cirrhosis and eventually lead to liver failure. In the same report a study released by Sweden challenged sixteen healthy individuals to stop exercising and to replace two meals a day with meals from popular fast-food chains. The results were scary! The individuals gained 16 pounds, ate 70% more daily calories, and their liver enzyme ALT (which is an indicator of liver damage) was 4 times the normal level. Most of the individuals’ livers were starting to spiral downward within one week of the unhealthy eating.
So now that we’ve found out that the way we’re eating is killing us, “whatever are we to do”? Don’t worry; it’s superfoods to the rescue! Well, that was hardly anything comic-page worthy; but seriously, there’s some really powerful foods packed with nutrients to help us combat the damaging effect of unhealthful living. From Men’s Health magazine here are eight superfoods to help recharge your body:
Pronounced KEEN-wah this hearty grain is being touted as the newest superfood and it’s easy to see why. Rich in protein, with only a few carbohydrates and a bit of healthy fats, quinoa is nutritionally superior to rice, corn, and wheat. It’s easy to prepare and can be served in a variety of ways from a dessert dish to breakfast cereal.
These amazing berries are on anyone’s list of super foods. Recent research shows that they’re brain food—feeding blueberries to rats actually slows their age-related mental decline. Blueberries contain pterostilbene, a plant compound recently shown to have cholesterol-lowering properties. Their ORAC value (antioxidant rating) is the highest of any fruit. And blueberries are rich in fiber.
Among the super foods of the world, guava is a sleeper. With a taste that’s been described as “part strawberry and part pear,” one low-calorie cup of this vitamin-rich fruit contains a whopping eight grams of fiber. And in one widely used test of antioxidant power, guava scored second only to blueberries, right behind kale. Guava also contains cancer-fighting lycopene.
Kale is a member of the brassica family—vegetable royalty that boasts cabbage and broccoli among its relatives. It’s rich in cancer-fighting substances called indoles, and loaded with bone-building vitamin K. Kale has the highest antioxidant rating of any vegetable and is ridiculously low in calories.
The juicy red or green apple’s reputation for keeping you out of the doctor’s office is well deserved. Loaded with pectin (an important fiber), apples are one of the best sources of boron, a little known nutrient that helps support strong and healthy bones. An apple with a glass of water is a great natural appetite suppressant. Highest antioxidant value: Red Delicious
This superb oil has been long neglected as a healthy oil because it contains saturated fat. But not to worry. The saturated fat in coconut is a very healthy kind called MCT (medium chain triglycerides) which is easily burned by the body for energy. Coconut oil also contains lauric acid, a natural anti-viral and anti-microbal. And today’s excellent virgin coconut oil doesn’t contain trans fat.
A superstar beverage if there ever was one, green tea helps with weight loss and helps fight against cancer. It contains EGCG, a catechin (plant compound) which stimulates metabolism and has anti-cancer properties to boot. Green tea also contains theanine, a natural relaxant.
Flaxseed oil is one of the only plant sources of omega-3 fats, but the flaxseeds themselves provide the added benefit of fiber along with omega-3. They also contain lignans, a group of plant nutrients that have been studied by the National Cancer Institute for their cancer preventative properties.
So, how about it, do you need rescuing from your food villains? Let superfoods liberate you and be amazed at what a little healthful eating can do!