The Crunchy Snack that Fights Cancer
Posted By Dr. Mercola | January 31 2011
Are you afraid that trying to eat healthily will drain your wallet? Not to worry -- some of the healthiest foods in the world are actually very, very cheap. Planet Green lists a number of foods that are great for your body but won't break the budget:
It's loaded with vitamin C, vitamin B, and calcium, and costs just over a dollar a bunch.
Broccoli and Cabbage
These low-cost cruciferous vegetables neutralize toxins in your liver.
It's just a few dollars a pound, it's a good source of vitamin B6 and folate.
They're full of fiber, protein, vitamin A, and vitamin C.
Adzuki beans contain some of the highest levels of protein of any variety of beans, and they also contain high levels of potassium, fiber, B vitamins, iron, zinc, and manganese.
These are a good source of folate, dietary fiber, manganese, protein, magnesium, vitamin B1 (thiamin), phosphorus, and iron.
Raw sunflower seeds contain 76 percent of the RDA for vitamin E.
Almonds are good for heart health and loaded with vitamin E.
To see the rest of their cheap superfood selections, along with a recipe for each food, click on the link below.
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
It's impossible to talk about health without coming back to the basics, namely food. The state of your physical health is the result of what you put into your body, and how you live your life. Unfortunately, the financial situation of most people is strained these days, to say the least. But that doesn't mean you can't maintain good health through your diet.
It's a common misconception that buying pre-packaged processed foods is less expensive than eating fresh and cooking from scratch, but don't fall for this notion. When you consider the nutrient value of fresh versus processed-to-death denatured foods and the subsequent health consequences of each choice, it's quite clear that you can eat well and improve your health and still not spend a fortune.
Health Starts with Your Diet
Your body was designed to maintain equilibrium of health, and one of the basic cornerstones is your diet. Unfortunately, most Americans are flat out delusional about what constitutes healthy eating.
When you're misinformed about what foods are actually healthy, then even the strictest adherence to your diet will get you nowhere.
I think part of the problem is that a lot of people do not understand what "processed food" means. They keep thinking they're eating healthy because they leave the lettuce on their Big Mac's, and they choose vitamin water over soda and eat microwaved veggies with their dinner...
One key aspect of eating healthy is eating non-adulterated foods—foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. If you do that, then basically everything you eat is a "superfood." You need nutrients—all of them—and nutrients are found in abundance in fresh, raw foods.
Still, lists like the one by Planet Green above, and mine below, can be helpful to steer you in the right direction. Just remember that broccoli, for example, will likely not be a superfood any longer if you buy the pre-packaged, sauced-up variety that comes in a microwaveable bag... Ditto for canned health foods like beans and vegetables, and irradiated and pasteurized almonds.
In order for any of these foods to impart the health benefits you'd expect, they must be eaten as close to their natural state as possible. If you don't understand (and implement) this key point, you'll never experience the truth of your diet being your number one health insurance policy.
Eating for Your Personal Biochemistry
Another important factor is that we all have different nutritional needs. Everyone needs the basic nutrients of fats, protein and carbohydrates, but the ratio of these will vary from person to person based on their personal biochemistry, or simply "nutritional type."
There is no one-size-fits-all diet—even if you're only eating healthy foods.
A simple way to ascertain how well-suited your diet is for your constitution is to evaluate how you feel after eating. If you feel hungry, irritable, sleepy or sluggish after you eat, it's a sign that you're likely not giving your body the fuel that it needs to do its job properly.
I outline the details of nutritional typing in my book Take Control of Your Health, but I'm pleased to now also be able to provide the entire online nutritional typing program for free to everyone. We've previously charged $29 for this program that we're now offering free of charge. It's such an important factor, I urge you to take advantage of this offer to improve your health.
Take a fresh salad, for instance. On the surface, this is a healthy meal. Yet, the same salad is not ideal for everyone. Your body may do best with some chicken, olive oil and onions added. Or you may feel better by adding some grass-fed steak, and using spinach instead of lettuce.
Additionally, while vegetables have potent medicinal qualities, the amount and type of vegetables you should eat daily will also depend on your nutritional type.
For example, Swiss chard, as well as collard greens, kale, and regular lettuces are typically too high in potassium for protein types and will tend to cause biochemical imbalances, whereas these veggie varieties are on the recommended list for carbohydrate types. Protein types tend to do better with vegetables that are lower in potassium, such as cauliflower, green beans, spinach, asparagus, mushrooms, and celery.
So, although some foods may not be deemed a "superfood" in general, if they're right for your constitution, then they are superfoods for you (again, provided they're not processed or cooked into oblivion).
Once you know which foods your body needs (and which you do better without), you will truly be on the road to increased energy, an upbeat mood, and a decreased risk of chronic disease. In short, you'll be on your way to reaching optimal health.
Diet as "Health Insurance"
While the Green Planet article above focuses on nutrient-dense foods that are easy on the pocketbook, I want to redirect your attention here to foods rich in nutrients that can help stave off a majority of health problems—foods that really give you lots of value. Some of these foods would not make the 'Most Inexpensive' list, but their value to your health is tremendous.
As I've discussed on numerous occasions, one of the primary risk factors of diseases of all kinds is chronic inflammation in your body. Low inflammation levels and a strong immune system typically go hand in hand, and together these two factors lay the groundwork for robust health.
Some of the foods below are both inexpensive and highly nutritious while others do cost a bit more but can go a long way toward healing your body of chronic inflammation and boosting your immune system naturally, without resorting to either supplements or drugs.
Some of these foods are also excellent detoxing agents, which is yet another important factor to consider as most of us are exposed to toxic chemicals on a daily basis, even when we actively try to avoid them.
Optimal Health "Superfoods" that Harness the Innate Power of Your Immune System and Quench Inflammation
Unpasteurized grass-fed milk -- Raw organic milk from grass-fed cows contains both beneficial fats and bacteria that boost your immune system. An outstanding source of vitamin A, zinc, and enzymes, raw organic milk is not associated with any of the health problems of pasteurized milk such as rheumatoid arthritis, skin rashes, diarrhea and cramps. Although raw milk availability is limited in the US, depending on where you live, you can locate the source closest to you at RealMilk.com.
Whey protein -- Even if you don't have access to raw milk, you can use a high-quality whey protein derived from the milk of grass-fed cows to receive much of the same health benefits. Whey protein contains beta-glucans and immunoglobulins, which protect your immune system and support your body's natural detoxification processes.
Fermented foods -- If you are serious about boosting your immunity, then adding traditionally fermented food is essential. One of the most healthful fermented foods is kefir -- an ancient cultured, enzyme-rich food full of friendly microorganisms that balance your "inner ecosystem" and strengthen immunity. Besides kefir, other good fermented foods include natto, kimchee, miso, tempeh, pickles, sauerkraut, and olives.
Raw organic eggs from free-range chickens – Raw, free-range eggs made it to my 2008 list of the 10 Healthiest Foods Under $1, and they're still an inexpensive and amazing source of high-quality nutrients that many people are deficient in, especially high-quality protein and fat. A single egg contains:
- Nine essential amino acids.
- Six grams of the highest quality protein you can put in your body. Proteins are nutrients that are essential to the building, maintenance and repair of your body tissues such as your skin, internal organs and muscles. They are also the major components of your immune system and hormones.
- Lutein and zeaxanthin (for your eyes).
- Choline for your brain, nervous- and cardiovascular systems.
- Naturally occurring B12
And as long as you have a good source for fresh, organic eggs, you need not worry about salmonella if you choose to eat them raw. To find free-range pasture farms, try your local health food store, or go to http://www.eatwild.com orhttp://www.localharvest.org.
Grass-fed beef or organ meats -- Grass-fed beef is very high in vitamins A, B12 and E, omega-3 fats, beta carotene, zinc and the potent immune system enhancer CLA (conjugated linoleic acid, a fatty acid). But don't confuse "organic" with grass-fed, since many organically raised cows are still fed organic corn, which you don't want. However, most grass-fed cows are raised organically.
Coconut oil -- Besides being excellent for your thyroid and your metabolism, coconut oil is rich in lauric acid, which converts in your body to monolaurin – a compound also found in breast milk that strengthens a baby's immunity.
Its medium chain fatty acids, or triglycerides (MCT's) also impart a number of health benefits, including raising your body's metabolism and fighting off pathogens such as viruses, bacteria and fungi. Additionally, a very exciting and recent discovery is that coconut oil may serve as a natural treatment for Alzheimer's disease, as MCT's are also a primary source of ketone bodies, which act as an alternate source of brain fuel that can help prevent the brain atrophy associated with dementia.
Make sure you choose an organic coconut oil that is unrefined, unbleached, made without heat processing or chemicals, and does not contain GM ingredients.
Berries -- Blueberries and raspberries rate very high in antioxidant capacity compared to other fruits and vegetables. They are also lower in sugar than many other fruits. Other good ones include natural cranberries, which have five times the antioxidant content of broccoli, and have been found to decrease total cholesterol and LDL (bad cholesterol) levels in animal studies. Unsweetened cranberry juice has also been traditionally used to successfully treat urinary tract infections.
Broccoli – Broccoli is also on Green Planet's list, and for good reason. This humble vegetable is indeed a superfood with near miraculous powers of healing and disease prevention. It contains the highest amount of isothiocyanates, a cancer-fighting compound, of all the crunchy vegetables. Isothiocynates work by turning on cancer-fighting genes and turning off others that feed the disease.
Other vegetables containing isothiocyanate include:
- Brussel sprouts
Research has shown that eating cruciferous vegetables can significantly reduce your risk of breast, bladder, lung and prostate cancer. Best of all, you don't need to eat massive amounts of these veggies to take advantage of their health benefits. Studies have shown that just 10 spears a week (5 servings) can make a difference in your health.
Chlorella – A superfood if there ever was one, chlorella is a single-cell freshwater algae that acts as an efficient detoxification agent by binding to toxins (most of which promote chronic inflammation), such as mercury, and carrying them out of your system. The chlorophyll in the chlorella helps you process more oxygen, cleanses your blood and promotes the growth and repair of your tissues. (For more information, please see my interview with expert, Ginny Banks.)
Tea – As for beverages, clean pure water is a must for optimal health, but if you want another beverage, a good choice with added health benefits is high quality herbal teas.
Matcha tea is the most nutrient-rich green tea and comes in the form of a stone-ground powder, completely unfermented. The best Matcha comes from Japan and has up to 17 times the antioxidants of wild blueberries, and seven times more than dark chocolate. Tulsi is another tea loaded with antioxidants and other micronutrients that support immune function and heart health.
Is Organic Worth the Price?
Last but not least, when shopping for fresh foods, do you have to buy everything organic?
I've noted a few instances in my list above where organic is essential, such as when buying eggs, dairy products (including milk, yoghurt, cheese and butter) and meats. Ideally, you'll want these to come from free-range, grass-fed animals that have been raised organically. If you can't afford to buy everything organic, focus your attention on these instead of organic vegetables. They will actually give you the greatest health benefits for your money.
This is because conventionally-raised animal foods, which are given pesticide-laced feed, tend to have higher concentrations of pesticides. Non-organic meats can have up to five times more pesticides than non-organic vegetables! Conventionally-raised animal products also contain inferior nutrition.
That said, most fruits and vegetables contain unacceptable and unsafe levels of pesticides, so it's a wise choice to buy organic produce as often as you can. Alternatively, and perhaps even preferably, look for fresh, locally-grown fruits and vegetables that are in season, as oftentimes locally grown foods are raised according to organic standards at a more affordable price.