Dr. Gray's Straight Talk

Honest and blunt healthcare discussion and advice.

Easy Grocery Store Health

Posted by Dr. Gray on Thursday, March 4, 2010

I am often asked what foods are the most important and easiest to add to a daily diet to help with nutrition and health. Here are eight foods readily available at your local grocery store that can easily be added to your weekly diet:

  1. Cruciferous Vegetables – This is a family of vegetables that includes broccoli, cabbage, kale, radish, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, collard greens, kohlrabi, mustard, rutabaga, turnips, bok choy, Chinese cabbage, arugula, and watercress. These foods have been shown to prevent and fight cancer by enhancing the elimination of carcinogens before they can damage DNA, and by altering cell signaling pathways in a manner that helps prevent normal cells from being transformed into cancerous cells. They are also packed with vitamins, minerals, and other life-giving, disease-fighting compounds.
  2. Apples – The many benefits of apples have been documented extensively. Here’s a short list: normalize cholesterol levels, decrease metabolic syndrome, retard cancer cell growth, cut smoker’s risk of COPD in half, improve lung function, decrease bone loss… this list could go on and on.
  3. Berries – Berries are a good source of vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. They are high in vitamin D, folic acid, and manganese. They also contain cancer fighting carotenoids, tannins, ellagitannins and gallic acid, as well as quercetin and eye protective lutein. And just as with apples, the seeds of berries are a good source of the anti-cancer vitamin B 17, or laetrile. Berries are also among the best sources of antioxidants which fight against chronic diseases associated with the aging process.
  4. Spinach – Spinach is an excellent source of energy boosting iron, an integral component of hemoglobin which transports oxygen to all body cells. Cancer is only able to grow in cells where the oxygen level is deficient. Spinach also contains at least 13 flavonoid compounds that act as antioxidants and anti-cancer agents, particularly for stomach-, breast-, and skin cancer. A carotenoid called neoxanthin induces prostate cancer cells to self-destruct. Spinach is also high in vitamin K, vitamin C, beta-carotene, folate, riboflavin, and vitamin A.
  5. Beans & Lentils – These vegetables provide soluble fiber that passes through the digestive tract grabbing and trapping bile that contains cholesterol, and removing it from the body. Eating a cup of cooked beans a day reduces risk of heart attack by almost 40%. This soluble fiber also creates more insulin receptor sites for insulin molecules to connect to, allowing insulin to get to the cells that need it, instead of floating freely through the bloodstream.
  6. Nuts & Seeds – Eating these foods five or more times a week reduces your risk of heart attack by a whopping 60%. Research shows that people who eat nuts are generally thinner, have lower levels of LDL cholesterol and better bones. They are also at a lower risk for cancer and inflammation.
  7. Salmon – This superfood really needs its own article to list all its health benefits. Eating just two servings of wild caught salmon a week provides as much omega-3 essential fatty acids as taking daily fish oil supplements. Omega-3 fats help prevent erratic heart rhythms, make blood less likely to clot inside arteries, improve the ratio of cholesterol, and prevent cholesterol from becoming damaged and thereby preventing clogged arteries. It has anti-inflammatory properties on a par with prescription drugs but without the side effects, and is also able to lower high levels of triglycerides. It is a tremendous source of the B vitamins including B12 that normalize blood pressure and promote heart health. Eating salmon as little as 1 to 3 times per month offers protection against stroke caused by lack of blood supply to the brain. Eating it 4 times a month reduces the risk of deep vein thrombosis by 30-45%, and the risk for atherosclerosis.
  8. Turkey – Fantastic lean source of proteins, B vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.

It doesn’t take too much work to eat right, and you don’t have to be so restrictive. The best rule to live by is to increase your intake of good stuff, limit your intake of bad stuff,… and enjoy life!

Sources:
Barbara L. Minton, Natural News.com
Silvina Lotito, Ph.d., “Why Apples Are Healthful”, Linus Pauling Institute Research Report.
“Why Blueberries are Healthful”, Blueberry Council.
“Cruciferous Vegetables”, Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University.
“Spinach”, WHFoods.
“Nutritional Benefits of Beans”, essortment.
“Salmon”, WHFoods.
“Turkey”, WHFoods.

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