Food GOLD: Turmeric is just as effective as 14 pharma drugs but suffers from NONE of the side effects


Image: Food GOLD: Turmeric is just as effective as 14 pharma drugs but suffers from NONE of the side effects

What if you could replace all the pills in your medicine cabinet with just one herb? Depending on what you take and why, that may be possible with turmeric. Its main component, curcumin, boasts enough health-enhancing properties to keep pharmaceutical execs up at night.

In fact, this herb is so powerful that it has been at the heart of more than 12,000 peer-reviewed biomedical studies. Researchers have found more than 800 different therapeutic and preventive uses for curcumin. Here is a look at just a few of the drugs to which it compares favorably, as outlined by Green Med Info.

Metformin (for diabetes)

Diabetes numbers continue to climb as Americans grapple with obesity, and that means more and more people are taking Metformin – and taking on its scary risks as well. However, a study in the journal Biochemistry and Biophysical Research Community found that curcumin has value in treating diabetes; it is between 500 and 100,000 times more powerful than Metformin when it comes to activating AMPK, which raises glucose uptake. Studies have also shown that it has a 100 percent efficacy rate in preventing those with pre-diabetes from developing full-fledged diabetes.

Lipitor (for cholesterol)

A 2008 study revealed that curcumin compares favorably to atorvastatin, which you may know as Lipitor, when it comes to dealing with the endothelial dysfunction behind atherosclerosis while reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. Other studies have shown that it can impact triglyceride levels, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol. While most of the studies so far have been done in animals, it is believed that it could have the same effect in humans, although the right levels have yet to be established.

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Prozac (for depression)

A study in 2011 found that curcumin compares favorably to the antidepressants fluoxetine (Prozac) and imipramine when it comes decreasing depressive behavior. Best of all, it doesn’t carry the serious side effects that Prozac does, which include sleep problems, tremors, headaches, nausea, a lower sex drive, and suicidal ideation. In addition, it’s well-tolerated by patients.

Researchers believe it works on depression by inhibiting monoamine oxidase, the enzyme that has been linked to depression when it’s present in high amounts in the brain. It also raises levels of calmness-inducing serotonin and dopamine.

Oxaliplatin (for chemotherapy)

A study published in the International Journal of Cancer looked at curcumin’s effects in stopping colorectal cell lines from proliferating. The researchers discovered the herb compared favorably to the chemotherapy drug oxaliplatin. Other studies are underway exploring the impact curcumin has on various types of cancer after animal studies showed it could help prevent illnesses like skin, stomach and colon cancer in rats.

Anti-inflammatory medications

Curcumin is also great for inflammation, which is at the root of many chronic illnesses today such as cancer, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, degenerative diseases, and heart disease. A study published in Oncogene identified it as an effective alternative to drugs like ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen given its strong anti-inflammatory effects, fighting inflammation at the molecular level. Meanwhile, in a study of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, curcumin worked even better than anti-inflammatory drugs.

Curcumin is so effective at addressing such a vast array of conditions that it’s hard to discuss it without sounding like you’re exaggerating. However, turmeric is truly “food gold” and it’s something well worth making a conscious effort to consume more of. You might not be ready to clean out your entire medicine cabinet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start adding this spice to your food. It pairs well with a variety of dishes, soups, salads, stews, and smoothies; consuming turmeric with fats is ideal, and make sure you add a pinch of pepper to boost its bioavailability.

Sources for this article include:

GreenMedInfo.com

NaturalNews.com

VeryWellHealth.com

Here’s what research shows about the mental health benefits of ginger


Image: Here’s what research shows about the mental health benefits of ginger

Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory that also offers other health benefits. In fact, the versatile plant can even help boost your mental health.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) comes from the rhizome or root of a flowering plant native to China, but the spice can grow in any area that is warm and humid. Aside from its use as a natural remedy for digestive disorders, ginger can also be used to address arthritis, memory loss and dementia, and muscle aches and pains.

Thanks to scientific research, experts are beginning to understand how ginger works. To date, research has identified over 100 compounds in ginger. More than 50 of these are antioxidants, which is crucial to brain health since the organ is vulnerable to free radical damage.

Ginger is often used as an anti-inflammatory, making it a popular natural remedy for arthritis. The plant’s anti-inflammatory property can also help people with brain disorders like ADHD, Alzheimer’s, anxiety, brain fog, and depression, which are often associated with chronic inflammation of the brain. Experts believe that ginger’s anti-inflammatory effects on the brain are due to two unique compounds called 6-shogaol and 10-gingerol.

Like the Indian spice turmeric, ginger also has a compound called curcumin. This compound is a natural antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antiviral. Curcumin is a potent herbal brain supplement ingredient that can help address anxiety, brain aging, depression, and neurodegenerative diseases. (Related: What Happens To Your Body When You Start Eating Ginger Every Day.)

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Ginger for brain health

Your body is constantly under attack from oxidative stress. Oxygen in the body splits into single atoms with unpaired electrons, and electrons can often be found in pairs. These atoms, called free radicals, scavenge the body to find other electrons so they can become a pair. When these atoms are paired, they cause damage to cells, DNA, and proteins. Studies show that free radicals are linked to diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, atherosclerosis, cancer, and Parkinson’s, among others.

Your brain is prone to free radical damage since it requires a lot of oxygen. Free radicals are caused by common factors like:

  • Air pollution
  • Fried food
  • Grilled meat
  • Lack of sleep
  • Radiation from your mobile phone and computer
  • Stress

Antioxidants in ginger can also protect the brain from further damage and memory loss after a stroke.

Ginger increases the level of two of the most important brain chemicals: dopamine and serotonin. Depression is strongly associated with deficient levels of both chemicals.

Dopamine is called the “motivation molecule” because it helps you focus and be productive. Dopamine is also in charge of your pleasure-reward system. Meanwhile, serotonin is known as the “happiness molecule” because it helps sustain a positive mood.

The spice is traditionally used to treat memory loss and dementia and research has determined that ginger can help improve other cognitive functions besides memory. According to a study, healthy adults given dried ginger supplements showed improvements in attention, reaction time, and working memory.

People with diabetes also rely on ginger as a natural remedy because it can help control blood sugar, especially if you are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Ginger has antioxidants called gingerols that enhance insulin sensitivity and prevent certain neurological diabetic complications.

Ginger is an effective remedy that can minimize the pain of migraine headaches. The spice has similar effects to sumatriptan, a commonly prescribed migraine drug that narrows blood vessels to the brain. But unlike sumatriptan, which is associated with negative side effects, ginger can relieve migraines without any side effects.

Suggested ginger dosages

Ginger, which comes in many forms, can be used as a food and as a supplement. Ginger supplements are available as capsules, crystals, essential oils, extracts, loose powder, and tinctures.

A typical dose of ginger is one gram, and the best way to ingest this dose is by taking two ginger capsules. Most supplements contain at 500 milligrams (mg) per capsule.

Below are some ginger dosage equivalents:

  • One teaspoon of fresh, grated ginger root
  • Two droppers (or two milliliters [ml]) of liquid ginger extract
  • Two pieces of crystallized ginger (about a one-inch square and 1/4 inch thick for each piece)
  • Four cups of ginger tea (Make the tea by steeping two teaspoons of grated ginger in 32 ounces of water for five to 10 minutes.)

Possible ginger side effects and interactions

When consumed as a food, especially fresh, ginger is considered very safe with little to no side effects. However, when too much ginger is consumed in other forms, especially powdered ginger, it may cause side effects such as bloating, gas, heartburn, and nausea.

Ginger also functions as a blood thinner. Avoid taking it as a supplement if you take blood-thinning medication such as warfarin. If you take diabetes or high blood pressure medications, talk to a healthcare professional to determine adjustments to your medication if you want to take supplemental ginger.

Ginger is a versatile herbal remedy that can help relieve digestive upset, and it also offers various benefits for brain health and function. Add fresh ginger to your diet or take it as a supplement to enjoy its many benefits and improve both your physical and mental well-being.

Visit Healing.news to read more articles about ginger and other natural cures that can help improve your mental health.

Sources include:

BeBrainFit.com

LiveScience.com

Accumulating evidence suggests curcumin and turmeric can treat psychiatric disorders


Living with a psychiatric disorder can be devastating for both sufferers and their loved ones. Unfortunately, many of the solutions offered by modern medicine do more harm than good while offering little in the way of relief. Thankfully, researchers have discovered that a compound in the popular Indian spice turmeric has the potential to effectively treat psychiatric disorders like bipolar disorder and depression.

You may have heard the fanfare about turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties, which it gets from a compound within the spice known as curcumin. It has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine and has been gaining popularity in Western medicine in recent years. This polyphenol is being revered for its protective, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and is being used to help fight cancer and stop the cognitive decline of neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s. Non-toxic and affordable, it’s showing a lot of promise in helping deal with many of the health problems facing people today.

Image: Accumulating evidence suggests curcumin and turmeric can treat psychiatric disorders

The same anti-inflammatory qualities that make it so good at addressing issues like arthritis can also extend to mood disorders. Not only does it reduce levels of tumor necrosis factor alpha and inflammatory interleukin-1 beta, but it also reduces salivary cortisol concentrations while raising the levels of plasma brain-derived neurotrophic factor.

A study carried out by researchers at Australia’s Murdoch University found that curcumin extracts reduced people’s anxiety and depression scores. They noted that it was particularly effective at alleviating anxiety. Moreover, even low doses of the spice extract were effective in addressing depression. In addition, the researchers found it worked quite well on those with atypical depression, which is a marker of bipolar depression.

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Growing evidence of curcumin’s usefulness in addressing psychiatric disorders

Curcumin has been found in other studies to be just as effective as one of the most popular SSRI antidepressants on the market, Prozac, making it an excellent option for those who wish to avoid the negative side effects of this psychiatric medication. It works by raising levels of dopamine and serotonin, two vital neurotransmitters related to depression. In addition, because depression is believed to be caused by chronic inflammation, it makes sense that curcumin’s ability to reduce inflammation could alleviate depression.

Interestingly, studies have also found that when curcumin is taken either alone or with saffron, it reduces the symptoms of anxiety and depression in those suffering from major depressive disorder. When taken alongside the herb fenugreek, meanwhile, it can reduce fatigue, stress and anxiety in those with extreme occupational stress. Curcumin supplementation has also been shown to significantly improve compulsiveness and memory loss in those with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

It’s also worth noting that curcumin can be taken alongside antidepressants safely; studies have even shown taking the two together can enhance their effectiveness. However, it’s important to keep in mind that antidepressants carry a lot of risks, so it’s worth exploring whether curcumin alone could be enough to alleviate an individual’s depression.

The idea of curcumin helping with mood is supported by a study that was published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry earlier this year. In that study, researchers found that participants who took curcumin supplements noted mood improvements, and they plan to explore this connection in a study of patients with depression. The researchers expressed optimism that curcumin could be a safe way to provide people with cognitive benefits; they also discovered the spice can improve memory.

Now, researchers are looking for ways to increase curcumin’s bioavailability so that people can enjoy the benefits of this all-star natural treatment. In the meantime, be sure to add black pepper to your dishes when cooking with turmeric or look for curcumin supplements that contain piperine, a black pepper extract, as this boosts its bioavailability.

What are the best foods to reverse symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis?


Image: What are the best foods to reverse symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is a debilitating disease that causes the joints, usually in the hands, to become inflamed and painful. It usually affects older individuals, although people as young as 30 can suffer from the disease. Like most autoimmune diseases, there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, but effectively managing it begins with eating the right food.

There is strong evidence supporting the link between food and the symptoms and effects of rheumatoid arthritis, which can include swollen joints, pain, and disability. In a study published in the journal Frontiers of Nutrition, researchers found that the state of a person’s microflora, the bacteria in the gut, as well as a leaky gut, all contribute to the occurrence of rheumatoid arthritis.

Changes in a person’s diet, they found, can also have pronounced benefits. For instance, fasting produces ketones that help suppress the pro-inflammatory molecules that cause pain in rheumatoid arthritis. Shifting to a plant-based diet has also been found to reduce immune reactivity to antigens found in certain foods.

The Mediterranean diet against rheumatoid arthritis

Because of the close link between rheumatoid arthritis and inflammation, it goes without saying that the best diet for sufferers is one that incorporates a lot of anti-inflammatory foods. When it comes to ingredients that fight inflammation, nothing does it better than the Mediterranean diet.

The Mediterranean diet places a lot of emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables, high-quality proteins, and whole, unrefined carbohydrates. According to experts, this diet is so healthy that it gives over 1,500 mg of polyphenols every day. Polyphenols are natural compounds with anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, and anti-allergenic properties.

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The Mediterranean diet is linked to a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease. One explanation for this is the liberated use of anti-inflammatory ingredients in almost any dish. Research has proven that many of the staples in this diet can help reduce the expression of pro-inflammatory compounds that may worsen rheumatoid arthritis. (Related: Study finds Mediterranean diet more effective cure for acid reflux than meds.)

Here are some of the pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory nutrients found in many of the foods under the Mediterranean diet:

  • Anthocyanins – These plant pigments are found in blueberries, blackberries, and eggplants. They are powerful antioxidants that reduce oxidative stress and help prevent inflammation.
  • Reservatrol – This antioxidant is abundant in grapes and red wine. Just like anthocyanins, it is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect the joints from inflammation and damage.
  • Mangiferin – Another antioxidant, this time found in mangoes, mangiferin is so powerful that it has been described as having the ability to prevent the destruction of joints.
  • Kaempferol – A compound found in grapefruit, kaempferol reduces the molecules that destroy the bones and the cartilage. The degradation of these parts is one of the main causes of pain of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Bromelain – This compound from pineapples is known for being a potent anti-inflammatory agent. Studies vouch for its efficacy as a pain reliever that does not cause any adverse effects.
  • Oleic acid – Found in olive oil, this is one of the hallmark ingredients in the Mediterranean diet. This compound is known to provide therapeutic and protective effects from rheumatoid arthritis. When consumed by people without the condition, oleic acid can lower the risk of developing the disease.
  • Curcumin – This compound is found in turmeric and is known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Some studies say that turmeric is best combined with ginger, yet another anti-inflammatory food, to maximize its ability to relieve rheumatoid arthritis pain.
  • Probiotics – These “friendly” bacteria help promote digestion and improve the overall health of the gut. They can help prevent the negative effects of leaky gut and offset bad bacteria that may be causing damage to the body. Probiotics are found in fermented foods. Lactobacillus casei, for instance, is found in yogurt.

Learn which foods you need to eat to relieve body pain at Remedies.news.

Sources include:

NaturalHealth365.com

Arthritis.org

Berries are some of the best anti-cancer foods you’ll ever find


Image: Berries are some of the best anti-cancer foods you’ll ever find

If you’re constantly on the lookout for ways to reduce your cancer risk, welcome to the club. With so many different types of cancer to worry about and so few safe and effective treatments, prevention really is better than cure. Most natural foods possess anti-cancer benefits to some degree, but if you want to get the most benefits, you should head straight for the berry aisle at your grocery store or farmer’s market.

Your first clue that berries possess remarkable properties is their color. Many fruits that are deep purple, red and blue get their shade from anthocyanins. These powerful antioxidants help fight free radicals and curb the oxidative stress and inflammation at the heart of many types of cancers as well as degenerative diseases.

While they boast a lot of useful benefits, like preventing the buildup of plaque in arterial walls that can lead to heart disease, anthocyanins’ crowning achievement is their ability to prompt various types of cancer cells to kill themselves. They also have the power to interfere with tumors’ abilities to resist chemotherapy, helping make this often-ineffective treatment that much more useful.

It’s no surprise, then, that acai berries, with their incredible antioxidant content, have been shown in studies to inhibit cancer. They can be especially useful when fighting colon cancer; a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that acai could suppress the growth and reproduction of colon cancer cells in humans by a remarkable 90 percent.

That doesn’t mean you should seek acai at the expense of other berries, however. Bilberries might not be as glamorous as other superfoods, but they are still worthwhile, especially in those who have breast or intestinal cancer cells as studies have shown they can cause cell death in these cancers. Also known as the European blueberry, they are like smaller versions of the typical blueberry and can be used in any way you would use the more familiar fruit.

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Another more obscure berry, the chokeberry, puts many other fruits to shame. According to a 2012 study in Oncology Reports, the berries were able to cause malignant brain tumor cells to die. That study looked at the combination of these berries and curcumin. While curcumin fared well when it came to inducing cell death, chokeberries were completely lethal to the cancer cells while also inhibiting the expression of genes that help cancer to spread.

Raspberries, meanwhile, offer a double-pronged approach to fighting cancer. In addition to their high anthocyanin content, they also have a high amount of ellagitannins, enabling them to limit colon cancer cells’ invasiveness and spur cell death in prostate, breast, oral and cervical cancer. Ellagic acid attacks cancer from several angles, acting not only as an antioxidant but also helping to slow cancer cell reproduction and deactivate carcinogens.

Berries’ benefits extend beyond their antioxidant abilities

The American Institute for Cancer Research points out that berries are also excellent sources of vitamin C, which has been shown to help protect against esophageal cancer. They also contain a lot of fiber, which can lower your risk of colorectal cancer.

When you consider all these benefits, combined with the fact that berries happen to be delicious, it might be tempting to get as much of them into your system as possible. Eating berries is unlikely to hurt you, unless you happen to be allergic to them. However, it’s important to keep in mind that berries contain astringent tannins, so taking high doses of very concentrated berry extracts could be damaging over time. Use common sense and talk to a naturopath if you’re concerned about striking a healthy balance.

Sources for this article include:

NaturalHealth365.com

AICR.org

Naturalpedia.com

Pomegranates are some of the best foods you can eat to prevent cancer


Image: Pomegranates are some of the best foods you can eat to prevent cancer

Why do you need to make pomegranates a part of your diet? Apart from being refreshingly delicious, pomegranates are packed with vital nutrients and offer many health benefits, among which is protection from cancer.

Fruits are an essential part of a healthy diet. A significant chunk of their nutritional profile is composed of antioxidants. These are compounds that fight free radicals, which are unstable molecules that tend to accumulate in your body because of factors like natural body processes, your diet, the presence of disease, and your environment.

High concentrations of free radicals in your body lead to oxidative stress, which damages your cells and tissues. The effects of oxidative stress can range from prematurely aging skin to serious diseases, including cardiovascular conditions, neurodegenerative diseases, and cancer.

Antioxidants modify free radicals and turn them into harmless substances your body can either process or expel without incident. In this way, they are an essential part of a substantial protection against cancer.

Pomegranates are rich in antioxidants. One cup of its seeds gives you 30 percent of the recommended daily intake (RDI) for vitamin C, known as one of the most powerful antioxidants in nature. Pomegranate peel and juice also have an abundance of punicalagins. These compounds have antioxidant properties that are three times more potent than those of either red wine or green tea, which by themselves are known for being antioxidant powerhouses.

But the cancer-fighting benefits of pomegranates do not stop with their antioxidant load. A review of the fruit’s value in cancer therapy, published in the journal Pharmacological Research, emphasized its anti-inflammatory, antiproliferative, anti-angiogenic, anti-invasive, and anti-metastatic properties as great reasons it is so effective against cancer.

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Inflammation is, under normal circumstances, actually a good thing. As part of your immune response, it tells you that your immune system is up and functional. It becomes problematic when it is prolonged and persistent, becoming a risk factor for cancer and a number of other diseases. The punicalagins and other antioxidant compounds found in pomegranate are linked to reductions in inflammatory activity in breast cancer and colon cancer cells.

Angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels, is a key factor in metastasis or the proliferation of cancer cells to other parts of the body. Once cancer has metastasized, it becomes a lot harder to treat, so preventing angiogenesis is an important step in disrupting the disease’s progression. The extracts of pomegranate peel have been confirmed, in a study published in the journal Research in Pharmaceutical Sciences, to have both antiangiogenesis and antiproliferative effects against melanoma.

Pomegranates can also induce apoptosis, or cellular death, according to research published in Growth Hormone & IGF Research. At the end of the day, cancer cells are simply mutated cells. Causing them to undergo the natural process of cellular death by administering substances with apoptotic effects is considered one of the safest ways to kill tumor cells and treat cancer. In the study, pomegranates were shown to cause the death of prostate cancer cells.

Other health benefits of pomegranates

Here are yet more reasons to eat more pomegranates:

  • Pomegranates lower blood pressure – Hypertension increases your risk of dying from a heart attack. Some studies have found that drinking pomegranate juice for two weeks can effectively reduce your systolic blood pressure.
  • Pomegranates reduce joint pain – The discomfort caused by arthritis can be debilitating. The anti-inflammatory compounds in pomegranates can help mitigate the damage caused by osteoarthritis on the joints.
  • Pomegranates treat impotence – Impaired blood flow is considered one of the reasons behind erectile dysfunction. The antioxidants in pomegranates help improve blood flow and may even aid in improving erectile response.
  • Pomegranates protect from infections – The compounds in pomegranates have been shown to protect against bacterial and fungal infections. Among the microorganisms this fruit can boost your resistance to is Candida albicans, the cause of yeast infections.
  • Pomegranates may improve memory – Some studies indicate that pomegranates can help improve the memory of those who have just gone through surgery. Other inquiries found that it can enhance both visual and verbal memory.
  • Pomegranates improve exercise performance – One study found that taking pomegranate extracts 30 minutes before exercise can improve your blood flow. This can delay the onset of fatigue and improve your workout’s efficiency.

 

Sources include:

Science.news

ScienceDirect.com

Cancer.gov

NCBI.NLM.NIH.gov 1

NCBI.NLM.NIH.gov 2

NCBI.NLM.NIH.gov 3

Healthline.com

An ancient pear endemic to Italy is a little-known superfood with high concentrations of antioxidant compounds


Image: An ancient pear endemic to Italy is a little-known superfood with high concentrations of antioxidant compounds

The Apennine mountains of central Italy are home to an ancient and rare variant of the European pear (Pyrus communis) called the Cocomerina pear. A study conducted by local researchers revealed that this pink-fleshed pear is a superfood bursting with natural antioxidants.

“Cocomerina” is derived from “cocomero,” the term for watermelon. This variant of pear is called that because of its sweet-smelling and pink flesh, which grows more vivid in color as the fruit ripens.

It is one of the so-called “ancient fruits,” which are very old and only found in a few small areas. The Cocomerina variant of the European pear is restricted to the Apennine area of Romagna and Tuscany. The early-ripening cultivar is harvested in August, while the late-ripening one is collected in October.

Many pears contain large amounts of anthocyanins, flavonoids, and polyphenols.  These plant-based compounds have powerful antioxidant properties that protect cell tissue and membranes from free radicals. (Related: The strange-looking tropical fruit graviola is a POWERFUL superfood against cancer.)

Methodology

Researchers from the Universita di Urbino – Carlo Bo (UdU Carlo Bo) studied the nutritional value of the Cocomerina pear. They harvested ripe specimens of the early-ripening cultivar, as well as both ripe and unripe examples of the late-ripening cultivar.

The cores were removed from the sample fruits before they were chopped up and prepared into fruit extracts. Each extract was analyzed to determine the amount and types of anthocyanins, flavones, flavonoids, flavonols, and polyphenols that it contained.

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Armed with the knowledge of the bioactive plant compounds present in the fruits, the researchers tested the extracts for their antioxidant activity. They measured the effectiveness of each extract when it came to scavenging DPPH free radicals, as well as its capacity to absorb oxygen radicals.

Furthermore, they evaluated the ability of the extracts to prevent inflammation. In the 5’-lipoxygenase assay, they measured the amount of extract required to inhibit 50 percent of the inflammatory activity of lipoxygenase.

Phytochemical content of Cocomerina pear extract

To begin with, the UdU Carlo Bo researchers noted the different amounts of phytochemicals found in the cultivars of the Cocomerina pear. The late-ripening cultivar has higher levels of polyphenolic compounds. Likewise, its ripe fruits contain more polyphenols than unripe samples.

The unripe fruits of the late-ripening cultivar have the best number of flavonoids. Interestingly, the ripe fruits of both ER and LR strains contain similar levels of flavonoids.

When it came to flavones and flavonols, the ripe fruit of the early-ripening cultivar demonstrated the highest level. Dihydroflavonol levels were much higher in the late cultivar, however.

Comparison of the unripe and ripe fruits of the late-ripening cultivar showed that the levels increased alongside the maturity of the fruit. So ripe fruits of the Cocomerina pear contains more phytochemicals than unripe fruits.

The amount of anthocyanin in late-ripening cultivar is 126 times greater than in the early-ripening one. Ripe LR cultivars contain more anthocyanins than unripe ones.

Free radical scavenging and antioxidant activity

All three extracts were able to scavenge DPPH free radicals. The ethanolic extracts made from the unripe and ripe pears of the late-ripening cultivar were much more effective.

Next, the extracts were also effective at inhibiting the activity of the inflammatory enzyme 5’-lipoxygenase. Again, the late-ripening cultivar’s extracts displayed greater effectiveness.

The antioxidant activity was greatest in the ripe fruits of the late-ripening cultivar. When compared with commercial pear cultivars, the Cocomerina pear extracts showed comparable or superior activity.

The researchers concluded that the Cocomerina pear possesses significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. These health benefits could encourage the conservation and recovery of this ancient fruit.

For more stories about cocomerina pear and other fruits that serve as superfoods, check out Fruits.news.

Sources include:

Science.news

Academic.OUP.com

TAndFOnline.com

Pubs.ACS.org

7 Surprising Superfoods to Look for This Spring


Story at-a-glance

  • Eating locally means eating what’s in season. This spring, consider adding some of the following superfoods, many of which you may never have heard of before: morel mushrooms, fiddlehead ferns, cherimoya, sorrel, stinging nettles, purslane and wild leeks
  • Most of these are only available for a short amount of time, and now’s the time to start looking for them
  • Morel mushrooms are packed with immune-boosting, disease-preventing vitamin D. Fiddleheads are picked from immature, uncoiled ostrich ferns, and have a flavor reminiscent of asparagus
  • Cherimoyas contain approximately 60 percent of the daily recommended dose of vitamin C and a third of your vitamin B6 needs, while nettles provide healthy amounts of vitamin K and calcium
  • One cup of sorrel provides more than your daily requirement of vitamins A and C, along with high amounts of potassium and iron; purslane is the omega-3 powerhouse of the plant kingdom

By Dr. Mercola

Eating locally grown foods comes with a bounty of benefits, from fresher foods to saving both money and the environment. One 2007 study from the University of Alberta, Canada, determined that the transportation alone of organic produce actually causes an environmental impact large enough to cancel out many of its benefits.1

If you look, you’ll find that most of the organic fruit and vegetables in your local grocery store come from much farther away than your conventional produce. Fresh produce in most regions of the U.S. actually travel between 1,500 to 2,000 miles on the road. That’s even higher than processed foods, which are shipped an average of 1,346 miles.2 Eating locally grown foods helps eliminate a substantial amount of the carbon footprint associated with food transportation.

Eating locally automatically means eating what’s in season. This spring, consider adding some of the following superfoods,3 many of which you may never have heard of before. Most of these are only available for a short amount of time, and now’s the time to start looking for them.

No. 1: Morel Mushrooms

Morel Mushrooms

Morel mushrooms, the tops of which resemble small shower loofahs, are packed with immune-boosting, disease-preventing vitamin D. Its taste has been described as umami, or savory. Rarely cultivated, morel mushrooms are typically wild-harvested and picking the mushrooms is a popular tradition for many.

That said, avoid picking mushrooms in the wild unless you are absolutely sure you know what you’re picking. There are a number of toxic mushrooms, including a species called “false morels,” and it’s easy to get them confused unless you have a lot of experience and know what to look for.

As noted in a recent study,4 “Morels have been in use in traditional medicine for centuries, due to their health-related benefits, and current research demonstrated their anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory bioactivities, in addition to immunostimulatory and antitumor properties.”

Most of the health benefits have been attributed to polysaccharides, along with a number of phytochemicals, primarily phenolic compounds, tocopherols, ascorbic acid and vitamin D. Morel mushrooms are an excellent addition cooked with any side dish and go great with all kinds of meat and fish. Many people enjoy eating them as a side dish on their own, gently sautéed for five to 10 minutes with a pat of butter. Never eat morel mushrooms raw, as they contain trace amounts of a toxin that make some people ill.

No. 2: Fiddlehead Ferns

Fiddlehead Ferns

Chances are you’ve never heard of fiddlehead ferns5,6 unless you’re a frequent visitor of farmers markets and specialty health food stores. As the name implies, the small curly discs are picked from immature, uncoiled ostrich ferns. The taste has been likened to that of asparagus, but with bit more crunch and bitterness. Others say they taste like a mix of asparagus, spinach and broccoli all in one.

High in antioxidants (twice the amount of blueberries) and plant-based omega-3, fiddlehead ferns are a potent anti-inflammatory food.7 They also contain vitamins A and C, both of which are important for healthy vision and immune function. Iron and phosphorous aid red blood cell production and are important for healthy formation of cell membranes and bone, while potassium supports heart health and electrolyte and muscle functions.

Fiddleheads are commonly picked in Maine and Canada, but can often be found in health food stores. Their season is quite brief — two to three weeks at the most. To ensure quality, look for specimens that have tightly coiled heads with stems about 2 inches in length. If picking your own, make sure you know how to identify ostrich ferns, as they are commonly confused with bracken fern — a species known to cause cancer in lab animals.

Also, fiddleheads may cause gastrointestinal upset when consumed raw, so light cooking, just as you would asparagus, is recommended. They can also be pickled for longer shelf life. For instructions, see this spicy pickled fiddleheads’ recipe by The Spruce.8

The following video will help you properly identify edible fiddleheads from the ostrich fern. Consider adding them to dishes that normally call for asparagus. Many recipes suggest eating them steamed or boiled with hollandaise sauce, cooked then chilled and topped with plain mayo, or lightly sautéed and tossed with some butter, lemon, vinegar and Parmesan cheese.

No. 3: Cherimoya

Cherimoya

This heart-shaped “dragon-scaled” tropical fruit has a sweet, buttery inside. Select specimens that are hard and green. As avocados, cherimoyas ripen quickly on the counter. Once the skin turns a bronze color and feels soft to the touch, it’s ready to eat. Simply peel and slice. Their flavor has been likened to a combination of banana, papaya and pineapple. Pureed, they can also be added to smoothies.

A single fruit contains approximately 60 percent of the daily recommended dose of vitamin C and a third of your vitamin B6 needs. In Mexico, the fruit has traditionally been used to ease anxiety, thanks to the presence of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), which has mild antidepressive effects.

It’s also high in fiber, iron and niacin, and contain powerful compounds shown to combat cancer, malaria and human parasites. Cherimoya provides high amounts of potassium that help control heart rate and blood pressure. Furthermore, it contains more minerals weight per weight than a lot of more common fruits, including apples.

No. 4: Sorrel

Sorrel

Sorrel, also known as spinach dock or narrow-leaved dock, is a perennial leafy herb cultivated around the world. Packed with health benefits and a tangy, lemony flavor, it adds a bit of zing to just about any salad or dish, including creamy soups.

One cup of sorrel provides more than your daily requirement of vitamins A and C, along with high amounts of potassium and iron. Keep in mind that sorrel contains oxalic acid, which is contraindicated for those struggling with or prone to oxalate kidney stones. For most people, small quantities are completely safe and provide valuable health benefits. According to Organic Facts:9

The health benefits of sorrel include its ability to improve eyesight, slow the aging process, reduce skin infections, strengthen the immune system, and improve digestion. It also builds strong bones, increases circulation, increases energy levels, helps prevent cancer, lowers blood pressure, increases appetite, protects against diabetes, strengthens heart health and improves kidney health.”

No. 5: Stinging Nettles

Stinging Nettles

While typically considered a pesky and painful weed, stinging nettles10 have unique health benefits. (On a side note, should you have them growing in your yard, they’re actually a sign of rich, healthy soil.) Just make sure you use gloves during handling until they’ve been cooked, to avoid a painful rash.

Once blanched or sautéed, they can be safely consumed, providing healthy amounts of vitamin K and calcium. Traditionally, nettles have been valued for its blood purifying properties, and can also be made into tea, said to ease congestion and soothe allergies and asthma.

Nettle tea may also boost milk production if you’re nursing, and helps stimulate your digestive glands, including your intestines, liver, pancreas and gallbladder. To learn more about the health benefits of stinging nettles and the various ways you can use it (including instructions for making nettle tea), see “Nettle: The Stinging Weed That Can Help You Detoxify.”

No. 6: Purslane

Purslane

Purslane11 (also called duckweed, fatweed, pigweed, pusley, verdolaga, ma chi xian in Chinese, munyeroo or wild portulaca), is the omega-3 powerhouse of the vegetation kingdom, and there’s a high probability it’s growing in your yard right now. According to Mother Earth News, it’s the most reported weed species in the world.12

Purslane looks very much like a miniature jade plant, with fleshy succulent leaves and reddish stems. The stems grow flat to the ground and radiate outward from a single taproot, sometimes forming large, flat circular mats up to 16 inches across. In about mid-July, it develops tiny yellow flowers about one-quarter inch in diameter.

Seeds of purslane are extremely tough, some remaining viable in the soil for 40 years, and it can grow in almost anything, from fertile garden loam to the most arid desert soil — even in your rock driveway. Just be very careful not to confuse purslane with spurge, because they can look similar, and spurge will make you sick. The following video shows how to tell them apart.

Purslane has a stellar omega-3 fatty acid profile, compared to other vegetables, containing anywhere from 300 to 400 milligrams (mg) of omega-3 per cup. It also contains six times more vitamin E than spinach, seven times more beta carotene than carrots, providing about 44 percent of your daily vitamin A needs per 100 grams,13 25 mg of vitamin C per cup, plus magnesium, calcium, iron, riboflavin, potassium, phosphorous and manganese.

Purslane can be eaten either raw or cooked. If you’re planning on eating raw purslane, make sure no pesticides or herbicides have been used nearby. If you’ve been spraying Roundup in your yard, never eat weeds collected from the area. Also avoid them if your neighbor has used Roundup in their yard, as the chemicals can easily drift across property lines.

As a precaution, wash the leaves and stems thoroughly before consuming. Typically, people eat the young purslane leaves and stems to avoid the tougher parts of the plant. For cooked purslane, there are numerous ways to incorporate this herb in your favorite dishes. You can boil it in water for 10 minutes and drain, or simply add it to other recipes to give the dish an added crunch.

No. 7: Ramps

Ramps

Ramps is a type of wild leek, featuring small white bulbs with hairy roots. While resembling green onions in appearance, their flavor is more akin to garlic. If you’re lucky enough to find them, be sure to get some. Ramps are exceedingly scarce as they’re a slow grower, and are only in season for a few weeks in spring.

Look for specimens that are firm, with bright green leaves. Don’t buy or use them if you notice brown spots or slimy areas. Unwashed and wrapped in a plastic bag, ramps can be refrigerated for up to a week. Ramps are a good source of vitamins A and C, selenium and chromium, the latter of which helps stabilize blood sugar. As for how to use them in your cooking, Organic Authority suggests:14

“[U]se ramps as you would scallions, green onions or leeks. Anything that would pair well with garlic or leeks will love the ramp. Slice them thinly and use sparingly, and also handle them gently, adding them at the end of the cooking process. Think simple to allow ramps to shine: Scrambled into eggs, garnished alongside seafood, mixed into big bowls of pasta, or oven roasted or grilled to perfection.”

How to Find Locally-Grown Food That Is in Season

When you eat locally grown foods, the contents of your shopping bag inevitably change with each passing season. In other words, adjusting what you eat to what’s in season becomes an inescapable fact if you’re going to eat locally-grown foods, and if you keep this in mind, it can become a pleasurable part of your culinary experimentation. Here are some tips for tracking down locally-grown foods that are in season:

  1. If you’re lucky enough to have a local farmers market, that’s the way to go. For a listing of national farmers markets and local food directories, see the USDA’s website. Another great resource is www.localharvest.org.
  2. Another good route for finding local food is to subscribe to a community supported agriculture program (CSA). Some are seasonal while others offer year-round programs. Once you subscribe, many will drop affordable, high quality locally-grown produce right at your door step. For a comprehensive list of CSA’s and a host of other sustainable agriculture programs, check out my Sustainable Agriculture page.
  3. Local farmers are perhaps your best source for seasonal produce. You can search for local farms on www.localharvest.org.
  4. Shop at your local natural food store or health co-op, as many of them get their produce from local farmers.
  5. If everything else fails, shop at your locally owned grocers rather than large chain supermarkets. Many small private grocers also supply produce from local sources.

Eight Signs of High-Quality Food

Last but not least, here are some general tips on what to look for when trying to determine the healthiest foods possible, no matter where you shop. You’ll want to look for foods that are:

  1. Grown without pesticides and chemical fertilizers (organic foods fit this description, but so do some nonorganic foods). If harvesting edible weeds or plants from your garden, make sure no pesticides or herbicides have been applied in the area
  2. Not genetically modified
  3. Contains no added growth hormones, antibiotics or other drugs
  4. Does not contain artificial anything, nor any preservatives
  5. Fresh (if you have to choose between wilted organic produce or fresh conventional produce, the latter may be the better option)
  6. Did not come from a factory farm
  7. Grown with the laws of nature in mind (meaning animals are fed their native diets, not a mix of grains and animal byproducts, and have free-range access to the outdoors)
  8. Grown in a sustainable way (using minimal amounts of water, protecting the soil from burnout, and turning animal wastes into natural fertilizers instead of environmental pollutants)

8 Superfoods to Supercharge Your Life


Powerful Foods for Optimal Health

The term “Superfoods” refers to a category of mostly plant-based foods that are known for their health-enhancing and disease preventing properties. And though there is no scientific definition of “superfood” — though there should be — it is generally accepted that these power foods contain an abundance of vitamins, minerals and other health enhancing components such as:

  • Antioxidants: natural substances that prevent or delay cell damage that can lead to diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Phytochemicals: naturally occurring chemical compounds that give plants their vibrant colors and distinctive aromas, and that possess health enhancing and disease preventing properties.
  • Fiber: necessary for a healthy digestion system allowing for maximum absorption of life-giving nutrients.
  • Healthy Fats: needed for heart and cardiovascular health, optimal brain function, and energy.

Here are eight of the more popular superfoods that should be on your grocery list!

Avocados

Avocados are often referred to as “alligator pears” due to their shape and green choppy rind that resembles the texture of alligator skin.

A recent study concluded that “avocado consumption is associated with improved overall diet quality, nutrient intake and reduced risk of metabolic syndrome.”

Did you know that per serving, avocados contain a higher amount of potassium than bananas? A 100-gram serving of bananas contains 358 mg. of potassium, whereas a 100-gram serving of avocado contains 485 mg. of potassium. Potassium reduces blood pressure in people with hypertension and studies show that it may also lower the risk of stroke by 24%.

Avocados also contain oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid that has been shown to reduce inflammation and possibly reduce the risk of many cancers as the phytochemicals in avocados have been found to inhibit the growth of precancerous cells.

Did you also know that eating avocados helps your body to absorb the nutrients in other plant foods, specifically fat-soluble nutrients such as Vitamins A, D, E, K, lycopene, and lutein? Yep, it is true!

Blueberries

study published in The International Journal of Circumpolar Health, 2013 found that blueberries have the highest antioxidant level with wild blueberries ranking the highest!

They have been shown to boost brain health and protect against Alzheimer’s Disease. (J Agric Food Chem. 2011)

“These preliminary memory findings are encouraging and suggest that consistent supplementation with blueberries may offer an approach to forestall or mitigate neurodegeneration…

On balance, this initial study establishes a basis for further human research of blueberry supplementation as a preventive intervention with respect to cognitive aging.”

Blueberries also help protect against age-related macular degeneration, and contain the same compound found in cranberries that promotes urinary tract health.

And speaking of cranberries…

Cranberries

Cranberries have a high concentration of anthocyanidins, antioxidants that have been shown to inhibit the development of atherosclerosis, cancer and other degenerative diseases.

The deeper the color of the cranberry, the higher the concentration of the anthocyanidin pigments. Most of the phytonutrients are contained in the skins of the cranberries. Antioxidant levels decrease when cranberries are juiced, processed or dried — cranberry juices with added sugars and artificial sweeteners have the lowest level of antioxidants.

Cranberries are well known for their ability to treat and prevent urinary tract infections. They are loaded with phytonutrients, including proanthocyanidins, which have been shown to prevent certain bacteria from attaching to the lining of the bladder and urinary tract. It has been reported that the use of cranberries is most effective in treating women with recurrent urinary tract infections. Read more HERE.

Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center found that the proanthocyanidins that may prevent urinary tract infections may also be beneficial in treating gum disease by preventing bacteria from binding to teeth. The anti-inflammatory properties of cranberries can also reduce inflammation around the gums thus lowering the risk of periodontal disease.

Cranberries also contain the antioxidant quercetin which adds to the beneficial effect of cranberries on cardiovascular health.

Daikon

Low in carbohydrates with a high nutrient content makes it a very sought after vegetable in Asian cuisine.  The Daikon Radish is a white winter radish grown mainly in Southeast and East Asia. It can be found in Asian markets and some mainstream grocery stores.

It is considered a cruciferous vegetable and thus its leaves have the same benefits as the other more common vegetables in the cruciferous family. In Asia, the root is pickled and the vegetable is used in salads, soups, curries, rice dishes and more.

Daikon has been found to be a natural expectorant and promotes respiratory health. It possesses similar enzymes to those found in the digestive tract and supports proper digestion, reduces constipation and helps nutrient uptake efficiency in the intestines. It also aids kidney function as it is a natural diuretic.

The high concentration of Vitamin C in its leaves enhances the immune system. It is also a rich source of Calcium which contributes to bone health and is known to possess anti-inflammatory properties.

Interested in reading more about the health benefits of Daikon including its anti-cancer properties, immune system enhancer, and digestion aid? Then you’ll want to read 5 BIG Reasons to Include Daikon in Your Diet!

Goji berries

Goji berries, also known as wolfberries, are bright orange-red in color and come from a shrub native to China. They can be eaten fresh, cooked or dried.

Goji berries are extraordinarily rich in antioxidants that help prevent cell damage and lessen your risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.

The Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) contained in goji berries is important for glucose (sugar) metabolism, and the health of eye tissue, skin tissue and the mucous membranes of the respiratory system.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) it is believed that goji berries strengthen the kidneys, balance the body and possess anti-aging properties. TCM practitioners find that they are beneficial for those with diabetes, liver disorders and high cholesterol.

Now all of that is pretty awesome on its own, but did you know that there just might be a link between eating Goji berries and longevity? Find out more HERE!

Kale

Kale is considered a “superfood” because it is one of the most nutrient-dense foods out there.

There has been some concern triggered by those who claim that Kale can cause hypothyroidism. However, research does not support this claim as a blanket statement. It is true that Kale contains goitrogens, which compete with iodine for receptor uptake within the thyroid. So technically, a diet high in Kale and too low in iodine could cause a problem with the thyroid. That being said, if you enjoy Kale, simply make sure that you also eat foods high in iodine to maintain balance.

Foods high in iodine include kelp, shrimp, cranberries, eggs, and potatoes.

Spinach

It is not surprising that spinach is among the vegetables considered a superfood. Historically it was known as a food with the ability to restore energy, increase strength and stamina, and improve the quality of the blood.

Spinach is loaded with a variety of flavonoid andcarotenoid compounds that have been proven to have anti-inflammatory properties. It is also one of the most alkaline-producing foods and a healthy pH is a necessity for a healthy immune system. If the body is in a highly acidic state, its ability to absorb nutrients and repair damaged cells will diminish, allowing bacteria, viruses, parasites and yeasts to flourish. When the body is in a more alkaline state it is better able to heal itself.

Multiple studies have shown spinach to be effective in combating many cancers, including breast, ovarian, and prostate. The anti-cancer properties of spinach have been dramatic enough to prompt researchers to create specialized spinach extracts to be used in clinical studies, and the National Institute of Environmental Health found that spinach extracts administered both orally and topically had the ability to reduce skin cancer.

Spinach contains the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin which have been shown to promote healthy vision and prevent macular degeneration.

Eating raw or lightly cooked spinach provides the most nutritional benefit.

Sweet Potatoes

There is much research showing that sweet potatoes possess anti-inflammatory and other disease preventing properties.

A study published in Functional Foods in Health and Disease 2012 set out to find just how effective the anti-ulcer activity in sweet potatoes actually was against peptic ulcers.  The results showed the following:

“The results of the present study showed that TE possessed gastro-protective activity as evidenced by its significant inhibition of mean ulcer score and ulcer index and a marked increase in GSH, SOD, CAT, GPx, and GR levels and reduction in lipid peroxidation in a dose dependent manner.”

(This means that the sweet potato was very effective!)

To find out more about Sweet Potatoes, including whether they are safe for diabetics, the article Sweet Potatoes are More Than Just an Ordinary Spud is something you should read.

So, are any of the foods listed here a part of your regular diet?

If so, which ones and why did you initially incorporate them into your diet? How have you benefited from them? Have you created any inspiring recipes using these Superfoods?

Also, this article only lists a few of the many Superfoods that can significantly boost your overall health – can you name a few more?

Superfoods That Give You the Most Bang for Your Buck


superfoods

Story at-a-glance

  • Eating a healthy, nutrient-dense diet is a potent preventive strategy, and getting more raw organic foods and healthy fats in your diet are key considerations
  • Seventeen superfoods that give you the most bang for your buck are listed, along with tips to save even more money and boost the nutritional content of the food by proper preparation and cooking

Ideally, food is your “medicine.” It’s certainly one of the best preventive strategy I can think of, and getting more raw organic foods and healthy fats in your diet are key considerations.

However, while any type of whole food is better than none, some choices can give you more bang for your buck than others.1

For example, while lettuce is a staple in most people’s homes, even if they don’t eat a whole lot of vegetables in general, and many may even spend the extra money on organic lettuce, there are far more cost-effective ways to get higher quality nutrients into your diet.

Below are 17 of my personal favorites in no particular order, with some added cost-saving and nutrition-boosting tips thrown in along the way.

1. Wild-Caught Alaskan Salmon

Research suggests eating clean fish like salmon, sardines or anchovies once or twice a week may increase your lifespan by more than two years and reduce your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 35 percent.2

However, the devil’s in the details, and when it comes to salmon, it’s quite crucial to buy the right kind.

What you’re looking for is wild-caught Alaskan salmon. Steer clear of all farmed and genetically engineered varieties.3 Virtually all salmon marked “Atlantic salmon” comes from fish farms, and researchers have shown farmed salmon may be one of the most toxic foods in the world.

Levels of healthy omega-3 fats are also reduced by about 50 percent in farmed salmon compared to wild salmon, due to the use of grain and legume feed.

Canned salmon labeled “Alaskan Salmon” is a cost-effective way to buy salmon, as it is far cheaper than whole salmon steaks. If you’re not a fan of salmon, you can get many of the same health benefits by eating anchovies or sardines, ideally canned in water rather than olive oil, as inferior grades of olive oil are typically used.

2. Avocado

In addition to being an excellent source of healthy fats, avocados also have other unique health benefits, including enhancing your body’s absorption of nutrients and inhibiting production of an inflammatory compound produced when you eat beef.4

They also contain compounds that inhibit and destroy oral cancer cells,5,6 and being very high in potassium avocados will help balance your potassium to sodium ratio.

Avocados are one of the safest fruits you can buy conventionally-grown, so you don’t need to spend the extra money for organic ones. Their thick skin protects the inner fruit from pesticides.

Another cost-saving measure is to keep them refrigerated. If you buy unripe avocado in bulk when they’re on sale, storing them in the fridge will significantly slow down the ripening process and save a bundle.

Simply place however many you want to use within the next day or two on the counter, and they’ll rapidly ripen.

3. Sprouts and Microgreens

Many of the benefits of sprouts and microgreens relate to the fact that, in their initial and early phase of growth, the plants contain more concentrated amounts of nutrients.7,8,9

As a result, you need to eat far less, in terms of amount, compared to a mature plant. Sprouts may be harvested within just a few days or a week of growth, while microgreens10 are typically harvested after two to three weeks, when they’ve reached a height of about 2 inches.

Essential fatty acids heighten and the protein quality of several vegetables improves when sprouted. Sprouts can also contain up to 100 times more enzymes than their full-grown counterparts, and help protect against chemical carcinogens.11 Watercress may be the most nutrient-dense of all.12,13

Sprouts and microgreens are easy and inexpensive to grow at home. They’re a particularly excellent choice during winter months, when outdoor gardening is limited or ruled out.

Another major benefit is that you don’t have to cook them. A simple way to dramatically improve your nutrition is to swap out lettuce for sprouts and/or microgreens in your salad, or on burgers, sandwiches or tacos.

Even a few grams of microgreens per day can “entirely satisfy” the recommended daily intake of vitamins C, E and K.14

4. Broccoli

Research shows this cruciferous veggie may reduce your risk for many common diseases, including arthritis, cancer, heart disease and more.

When you eat broccoli, you’re getting dozens of super-nutrients that support optimal, body-wide health, including fiber, the anti-cancer compounds sulforaphane15,16,17,18and glucoraphanin,19,20 anti-inflammatory and free radical quenching phenolic compounds21,22,23 and immune-boosting diindolylmethane (DIM).24,25

Three servings of broccoli per week may reduce your risk of prostate cancer by more than 60 percent.26 Sulforaphane also helps raise testosterone levels, inhibits the retention of body fat, helps detox carcinogens27 and helps protect your muscles against exercise-induced damage.28

Ideally, choose raw broccoli, as frozen broccoli has diminished ability to produce sulforaphane. The enzyme myrosinase,29 which converts glucoraphanin to sulforaphane, is quickly destroyed during the blanching process.30

Even better, opt for broccoli sprouts, which can contain 20 to 50 times more chemoprotective compounds than mature broccoli.31,32

When using raw broccoli, steaming it for three to four minutes will optimize the sulforaphane content. Do not go past five minutes. If you want to boil your broccoli, blanch it in boiling water for no more than 20 to 30 seconds, then immerse it in cold water to stop the cooking process.

The sulforaphane content can be further optimized by eating it with mustard seed, daikon radishes, wasabi, arugula and/or cole slaw.33

5. Onions

Onions are another potent anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer food. Recent research shows people with the highest consumption of onions have a lower risk of several different types of cancer.34,35,36,37

Research has also revealed that the stronger the flavor of the onion, the better its cancer-fighting potential. In one analysis,38,39 shallots, Western yellow and pungent yellow onions were the most effective against liver cancer. The latter two were also particularly effective against colon cancer.

Onions also contain compounds known to protect against cardiovascular disease and neurological dysfunction or decline. They also help prevent obesity and diabetes, in part by inhibiting certain enzymes in your digestive tract, and by supporting healthy blood sugar control.

Antioxidants are most concentrated in the outer layers of the onion, so peel off only the outermost paper-like layer. Overpeeling can reduce important antioxidants and chemoprotective compounds by as much as 75 percent.40

On the upside, the anti-cancer compound quercetin does not degrade when cooked over low heat. Store whole, dry bulbs in a cool, dry, dark place with plenty of air movement to maximize shelf life.

6. Spinach

Spinach is also rich in cancer-fighting antioxidants, vitamin K1 (good for your veins and arteries), magnesium and folate, the latter of which is important for short-term memory and helps lower your risk for heart disease and cancer by slowing down wear and tear on your DNA. It also contains more potassium than banana.

One caveat and contraindication: If you have calcium oxalate kidney stones, spinach is on the list of foods to strictly avoid, as it is high in oxalate. Also keep in mind that boiling the spinach will leach valuable nutrients like vitamin C into the water. After 10 minutes of boiling, three-quarters of the phytonutrients in spinach will be lost, so you’re better off eating it raw, or lightly steamed or sautéed.

7. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil provides a mix of medium-chain fats, including C6, C8, C10 and C12 fats, the latter of which (lauric acid), is most well-known for its antibacterial, antimicrobial and antiviral properties.

The shorter-chained MCTs, on the other hand, are more readily converted into ketones, which are an excellent mitochondrial fuel. Ketones also help suppress the hunger hormone ghrelin, and coconut oil has been shown to aid weight loss and improve your HDL to LDL cholesterol balance.41

My new book, “Fat for Fuel,” explains many of the health benefits associated with a diet high in healthy fats, including coconut oil. Indeed, the ketogenic diet, featuring low net carb and high fat intake, has been shown to be beneficial for many chronic health conditions, including cancer, and can significantly improve your chances of weight loss.

One way to save money on coconut oil is to buy it by the gallon. Big box stores like Costco also tend to have better prices on such bulk items. Unlike other healthy oils such as olive oil, coconut oil is very resistant to oxidation that occurs once you open the jar or apply heat, so buying in bulk is not a major concern.

8. Fermented Cabbage

Cabbage tends to be inexpensive, and you can supercharge its health benefits by fermenting it, thereby also significantly extending its shelf life. The fermenting process produces copious quantities of beneficial microbes that are extremely important for your health, as they help balance your intestinal flora and boost your immunity.

These beneficial bacteria can even help to normalize your weight, and play a significant role in the prevention of type 2 diabetes, depression and other mood disorders.

9. Organic, Pastured Eggs

Free-range or pastured eggs are a relatively inexpensive and amazing source of high-quality nutrients, especially protein and fat. A single egg contains nine essential amino acids, high quality protein, lutein and zeaxanthin for your eyes, choline for your brain, nervous- and cardiovascular systems, and naturally-occurring B12.

Ideally, you’ll want to eat your eggs as close to raw as possible, such as soft-boiled or poached. Scrambled or fried eggs are the worst, as this oxidizes the cholesterol in the egg yolk. If you have kidney damage, you may want to discard the egg white. If you chose to use the egg white, avoid eating it raw unless it’s in combination with the yolk. Eating only egg white could potentially lead to biotin deficiency.

Besides superior nutrition, pastured chickens are much healthier than factory farmed chickens and therefore have a far lower risk of producing eggs infected with salmonella. To find a free-range pasture farm in your local area, check out www.eatwild.com or www.localharvest.org.

Keep in mind that eggs sold as “cage-free” does not mean the chickens were raised under ideal conditions. They’re not raised in cages, but they may still not have access to the outdoors. So, there are still significant differences between “cage-free” and “free range” or “pastured” eggs. To identify better commercial producers and brands, see the Cornucopia Institute’s egg report and scorecard, which ranks 136 egg producers according to 28 organic criteria.

10. Berries

Berries are loaded with vitamins, minerals and micronutrients that impart a host of health advantages. Importantly, their antioxidant power helps keep free radicals in check and fights inflammation. Some of the most important antioxidants in berries are anthocyanins, flavonols, ellagic acid and resveratrol, which studies say help protect your cells and fight off disease.

Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, cranberries and blackberries are known as some of the world’s best dietary sources of bioactive compounds associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, neurodegeneration, diabetes, inflammation and cancer. One way to prevent waste — as berries can get moldy within days if you don’t eat them — is to buy frozen berries and simply thaw what you need. Frozen berries also tend to be less expensive pound-for-pound compared to fresh berries.

11. Kiwi

If you need vitamin C, which helps support immune function, look no further than the kiwi. One medium-sized fruit provides 117 percent of your daily recommended intake. They’re also a good source of fiber, vitamins E and K, potassium and antioxidants that help ward off chronic disease. Interestingly, kiwis have also been shown to help lower blood pressure.42

Acerola cherries are far better but they are not available commercially and need to be grown in subtropical environments. They are less than 10 percent the size of a kiwi and have more vitamin C. I have two trees that supply me with 50 to 75 or more cherries a day for about 8 months out of the year, which supplies me with many grams of a complete vitamin C matrix.

12. Raw Yogurt and Kefir

While most commercial yogurts are little more than glorified desserts loaded with sugar, yogurt and kefir made from cultured raw, organic grassfed milk are a real superfood, providing an array of healthy bacteria that support optimal health, along with high-quality protein, calcium, B vitamins and even cancer-fighting conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).

If you want to know which commercial yogurts are healthy and which are not, refer to The Cornucopia Institute’s Yogurt Report. Their investigation found many products being sold as yogurt do not even meet the standards for real yogurt. The report also includes a comparative cost analysis of commercial yogurt brands.

The good news is many organic yogurts are actually less expensive, on a price-per-ounce basis, than conventional, heavily processed yogurts (although some of the organic brands of yogurt actually contained some of the highest amounts of sugar). Your absolute best bet — and also your least expensive — is to make your own kefir or yogurt using organic grassfed milk. It’s a simple process requiring nothing more than the milk, some starter granules and a few mason jars.

13. Grassfed Beef and Beef Liver

Swapping grain-fed beef from concentrated animal feeding operations for organic grassfed beef is well worth the added price, as you get higher quality nutrients and less exposure to antibiotics and pathogenic bacteria. As for organ meat, it is a nutritional powerhouse, loaded with vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other compounds vital to your health, many of which Americans are deficient in.

Liver is particularly packed with nutrients. In fact, it contains more nutrients, gram for gram, than any other food, including choline, B vitamins, bioavailable iron, vitamin D and CoQ10.

You can save money by buying directly from a farmer and then freezing the meat. To ensure you’re getting the highest quality possible, look for the American Grassfed Association’s certification. Their website also allows you to search for AGA approved producers certified according to strict standards that include being raised on a diet of 100 percent forage; raised on pasture and never confined to a feedlot; never treated with antibiotics or hormones; born and raised on American family farms.

14. Grassfed Raw Butter

Butter, when made from grassfed cows, is rich in CLA, known to help fight cancer and diabetes. Butter is also a rich source of easily absorbed vitamin A and other fat-soluble vitamins (D, E and K2) that are often lacking in the modern industrial diet, plus trace minerals such as manganese, chromium, zinc, copper and selenium (a powerful antioxidant).

About 20 percent of butterfat consists of short- and medium-chain fatty acids, which your body uses right away for quick energy. Real butter also contains Wulzen Factor, a hormone-like substance that prevents arthritis and joint stiffness, ensuring that calcium in your body is put into your bones rather than your joints and other tissues. The Wulzen factor is present only in raw butter and cream; it is destroyed by pasteurization.

Here, you again have the option of making your own butter from raw grassfed milk. You may also find unpasteurized grassfed butter at your local farm or farmers market. The next best is pasteurized butter from grassfed cows, followed by regular pasteurized butter common in supermarkets.

Even the latter two are healthier choices by orders of magnitude than margarines or spreads. Just beware of “Monsanto Butter,” meaning butter that comes from cows fed almost entirely genetically engineered grains. This includes Land O’Lakes and Alta Dena.

15. Mushrooms

A number of different mushrooms — including shiitake, maitake and reishi — are known for their immune-boosting powers. In fact, some of the most potent immunosupportive agents come from mushrooms, and this is one reason why they’re so beneficial for both preventing and treating cancer. Long-chain polysaccharides, particularly alpha- and beta-glucan molecules, are primarily responsible for the mushrooms‘ beneficial effect on your immune system.

They’re also rich in protein, fiber, vitamin C, B vitamins, selenium, calcium, minerals and antioxidants, including some that are unique to mushrooms. One such antioxidant is ergothioneine, which scientists are now beginning to recognize as a “master antioxidant.”

When it comes to mushrooms, make sure they’re organic, as mushrooms tend to absorb and concentrate toxins from soil, air and water. Growing your own is an excellent option, but avoid picking mushrooms in the wild unless you are absolutely sure you know what you’re picking. Some mushrooms are guaranteed lethal and have no known antidote.

16. Kale

The nutritional density of kale is virtually unparalleled among green leafy vegetables, boasting all essential amino acids and nine non-essential ones. One-half cup of raw kale provides 100 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin A, 340 percent of your vitamin K and 67 percent of your vitamin C. It’s also loaded with both lutein and zeaxanthin, which are important for good eyesight. Gram-for-gram, kale even contains more calcium than milk.

Like many other superfoods on this list, kale contains potent chemoprotective agents, including the phytonutrient indole-3-carbinol — which has been shown to aid DNA cell repair and slow the growth of cancer cells — and sulforaphane. Its anti-inflammatory capabilities have also been shown to help prevent and even reverse arthritis, heart disease and several autoimmune diseases.

17. Whey Protein Concentrate

Whey protein, a byproduct of milk and cheese, has been linked to a variety of health benefits, including:

Helping your insulin work more effectively, which helps maintain your blood sugar level after a meal Promoting healthy insulin secretion, which is imperative for optimal health
Helping to promote your optimal intake of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals needed for your overall wellness Helping you preserve lean body tissue (particularly during exercise) as it delivers bioavailable amino acids and cysteine
Supporting your immune system, as it contains immunoglobulins Maintaining blood pressure levels that are already within the normal range

Whey protein concentrate (not to be confused with the far inferior whey protein isolate) is an ideal choice as it’s a rich source of amino acids.

It’s also the best food for maximizing your glutathione levels as it provides all the raw materials for glutathione production (cysteine, glycine and glutamate). Glutathione is your body’s most powerful antioxidant and has even been called “the master antioxidant.” It is a tripeptide found inside every single cell in your body. When shopping for a whey protein, be sure to look for a product that is:

  • Cold pressed
  • Derived from organic grassfed cows
  • Free of hormones
  • Toxin-free
  • Free of artificial sweeteners and sugar

Source:mercola.com