Heart Health & Cancer Fighting Foods in the Grocery Store
As seen on Charlotte Today on February 8, 2013
As the words “heart attack” and “cancer” become more and more common, I am frequently asked what foods will help prevent and fight heart disease and cancer. I’ve created a list of some of the most powerful foods, but it is important to note that WHOLE, RAW, and REAL foods are ALL powerful when it comes to building health in our bodies. When we start eating these foods on a daily basis, we begin to build health in our bodies so that it is able to weather any storm that comes it’s way!
1) Blueberries & Other berries
Why: Beta-carotene and lutein (carotenoids); anthocyanin (a flavonoid); ellagic acid (a polyphenol); vitamin C; folate; calcium, magnesium; potassium; fiber.
How to use them: Add blueberries to your oatmeal (which is also heart healthy) or yogurt. Use dried cranberries in trail mix with heart healthy nuts and seeds.
Why: Beta-cryptoxanthin, beta- and alpha-carotene, lutein (carotenoids) and flavones (flavonoids); vitamin C; folate; potassium; folate; fiber.
How to use them: Think fresh squeezed orange juice or a grab ‘n go snack!
Why: Alpha-carotene (a carotenoid); fiber.
How to use them: Baby carrots are a great snack. Sneak shredded carrots into pasta sauce.
Why: Lutein (a carotenoid); B-complex vitamins; folate; magnesium; potassium; calcium; fiber; folate.
How to use it: Use fresh spinach leaves in place of iceberg lettuce on sandwiches and in salads.
Why: Beta-carotene and lutein (carotenoids); B-complex vitamins; folate; fiber; folate.
How to use it: Grill or steam with olive oil and lemon juice or lemon pepper.
Why: Omega-3 fatty acids; folate; niacin.
How to use it: Canned tuna (Chicken of the Sea brand) over salad greens or Ahi Tuna for meal.
Why: Omega-3 fatty acids; Vitamin D.
How to use it: Grill and eat by itself or serve in pasta or salad.
1) Black Beans
Why: B-complex vitamins; niacin; folate; magnesium; omega-3 fatty acids; calcium; soluble fiber.
How to use them: Add to a soup or even in brownies. Try Brooke’s Black Bean Brownies.
Nuts & Seeds
Why: Omega-3 fatty acids; fiber, phytoestrogens.
How to use them: Throw ground flaxseeds into smoothies, in yogurt, or your morning oatmeal.
Why: Plant omega-3 fatty acids; vitamin E; magnesium; folate; fiber; heart-favorable mono- and polyunsaturated fats; phytosterols.
How to use them: Add crunch to a salad, eat as a snack, or use as an add in to Gilda’s Gluten-Free Pancakes.
1) Herbs such as rosemary, oregano, cilantro, thyme, basil, parsley, peppermint, sage all help to protect against cancer and heart disease.
2) Ginger works directly on cancer cells. Through apoptosis, it basically causes the cancer cells to kill themselves without harming the cells around. Through autophagy, the cancer cells digest themselves, thus proving ginger’s cancer fighting ability.
1) Red Wine
Why: Catechins and Resveratrol (flavonoids) help improve HDL levels.
2) Dark Chocolate
Why: Resveratrol and Cocoa Phenols (flavonoids) lowers blood pressure, but choose 70% or higher cocoa content.
Heart & Cancer Protective Nutrients Defined:
Phytoestrogens are substances in plants (like flaxseed) that have a weak estrogen-like action in the body. Studies suggest that flaxseed lowers the risk of blood clots, stroke, and cardiac arrhythmias. It may also help lower total and LDL “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides, and even blood pressure.
Phytosterols are plant sterols that chemically resemble cholesterol — and seem to reduce blood cholesterol. All nuts and seeds have phytosterols.
Carotenoids are heart-protective antioxidants in many colorful fruits and veggies. Alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene are carotenoids.
Polyphenols are another set of antioxidants that protect blood vessels, lower blood pressure, reduce LDL “bad” cholesterol. Flavonoid polyphenols include catechins, flavonones, flavonols, isoflavones, resveratrol, and anthocyanins. Non-flavonoid polyphenols include ellagic acid (found in all types of berries).
Omega-3 fatty acids and alpha-linolenic fatty help boost the immune system, reduce blood clots, and protect against heart attacks. They also increase good HDL levels, lower triglyceride levels, protect arteries from plaque buildup, are anti-inflammatories, and lower blood pressure.
B-complex vitamins protect against blood clots and atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. Niacin (vitamin B-3) helps increase HDL cholesterol.
Vitamins C and E are antioxidants that protect cells from free radical damage.
Vitamin D helps curb the growth of cancer cells.
Magnesium, potassium, and calcium help lower blood pressure.
Fiber-rich foods help lower cholesterol levels. Fiber is the body’s natural cleanser!
Folate– rich foods help protect against DNA mutations.
Source: WebMD & Brooke’s Top Tips on Grocery Shopping.