Add these foods to your dietary arsenal to help arm yourself against disease and age-related ailments. Liz Pearson, co-author (along with Mairlyn Smith) gives us the news on longevity-boosting champions.
1. The Weapon: 100% whole grains
The Ailment: Inflammation
The Risks: Cancer, Type 2 diabets and heart disease
The News: “What we’re finding is that inflammation is like gas on a fire for disease”, Pearson says. She cites a study conducted by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, which shows a diet rich in whole grains significantly reduces inflammation.
Recommendation: Six to eight whole grain servings daily. For creative recipes using whole grains, go to www.wholegrainpasta.ca.
2. The Weapon: Berries
The Ailment: Age-related loss of balance and co-ordination; memory loss
The Risks: Falls, which could lead to injury and broken bones; Alzheimer’s disease; cancer.
The News: Pearson points to research at teh Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging that demonstrates how a diet of berries, a known antioxidant megastar, had a significant impact on the balance and co-ordination in mice as they aged.
Recommendation: One-half to one cup (125 to 250 ml) of berries daily. Add them to cereal, salads and yogurt or whip them into smoothies.
3. The Weapon: Dark, Leafy Greens
The Ailment: Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
The Risks: Heart disease, cancer
The News: “Leafy greens are the most nutrient-dense food you can eat containing more nutrition per calorie than any other food”, says Pearson. Spinach, broccoli, kale, collard greens, watercress, Swiss chard and arugula contain a gold mine of vitamins, minerals and plant compounds to fight disease.
Recommendation: Go for at least one cup (250ml) of dark leafy greens daily in salads, soups, pasta dishes and stir-frys and with eggs.
4. The Weapon: Nuts
The Ailment: Vitamin, mineral and fibre deficiency; cardiovascular-related issues.
The Risks: Heart attack, stroke
The News: Nuts are loaded with vitamins, minerals, fibre and plant compounds that protect the heart. “If you eat nuts regularly, not only are yo less likely to have a heart attack or stroke but if you do have one, you’re much less likely to die from it,” she says.
Recommendation: Limit your intake to about a quarter of a cup (50 ml) – two tablespoons (25 ml) of peanut or almond butter (preferably natural) – daily since nuts are high in calories. Toos them into salads, pasta or cereal or enjoy them on their own as a snack.
5. The Weapon: Chocolate
The Ailment: Poor Circulation
The Risks: Cardiovascular disease, stroke
The News: High in cocoa flavanols, chocolate has been scientifically proven to support healthy circulation. Pearson refers to research from the University of Cabridge in England that analyzed seven studies involving more than 100,000 participants, linking eating chocolate to as much as a 37 per cent reduction in cardiovascular disease and 29 per cent reduction in stroke. The study didn’t distinguish between dark or milk chocolate, but dark chocolate, preferably containing 60 to 70 per cent cocoa, contains more of the beneficial flavanols and has less sugar. In addition, people don’t tend to overeat dark chocolate.
Recommendation: Limit daily intake to a half to one ounce. Try using chocolate in 100 per cent whole grain muffins or pancakes or add to trail mix. If sugar is an issue, there are low-sugar and sugar-free options. Another great way to enjoy chocolate is in a cocoa drink.