[this article appeared in the Oxford Review September 26th 2013]
I have often said that eating whole real foods are the best and quickest way to vibrant health. Read through this list of nutritious plant foods and think about the ones you might want to add to your life. A warning though – adding some of these can make you way healthier!
This veggie is very high in glutathione, which is an important anticarcinogen, and antioxidant. It also contains a substance called rutin that protects small blood vessels from rupturing, blocks cancer angiogenesis, and also helps the thyroid uptake and use more iodine. Asparagus is a good source of vitamins A, C and E, B-complex vitamins, potassium and zinc.
This is quite an amazing fruit and has more than twice as much potassium as a banana. Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fat, which is easily burned for energy and important for making new cells. For a delicious and creamy salad dressing, mix together avocado and fresh carrot juice with a touch of fresh lemon juice.
Beet greens contain notable amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese and phosphorus. The greens also contain vitamins A, a B-complex and C. The beet roots are very high in betaines which lower homocycsteine levels, and beetroot juice has been shown in multiple studies to lower blood pressure.
There is some clinic evidence that cilantro, along with cranberry extract and d-mannose, may be useful to treat urinary tract infections. As a digestive aid, both the leaves and seeds can relieve intestinal gas, pain and abdominal distention. Cilantro has also been useful for nausea, soothing inflammation, helping with rheumatic pain, headaches, coughs and mental stress. A little know fact is that cilantro is a member of the carrot family.
I have a love-hate relationship with dandelion greens. I love them in my salad, but I am not so found that they have taken up permanent residence in my lawn. That being said it is hard to ignore the incredible breadth of dandelion greens, which not only act as powerful digestive aids, but also in helping cleanse the liver. The list for dandelion’s benefits is long and contains other things like aiding to reverse jaundice, cirrhosis, edema due to high blood pressure, gout, eczema and acne. Dandelion greens are high in vitamin A in the form of an antioxidant carotenoid and vitamin C. And if that wasn’t enough dandelion greens are also brilliant sources of calcium, potassium and inulin, which has been shown to help lower blood sugar in diabetics.
I have praised the benefits of kale in the past due to its amazing nutrient profile. There are many health experts who call kale the most nutrient-dense food on earth. For starters, Kate contains high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin, which protect the eyes from macular degeneration. Kale also contains indole-3-carbinol, which may protect against colon cancer, ease symptoms of menopause. Indole-3-carbinol also has the ability to the block toxic xenoestrogens (“xeno” means foreign) that are creating havoc with the hormones of both genders. As far as vitamins and minerals are concerned, kale is an excellent source of calcium, iron, vitamins A and C, and chlorophyll (which means it is also high in magnesium).
Kohlrabi, which belongs to the cabbage family, is an excellent source of vitamin C and potassium. Due to being high in fibre Kohlrabi helps to stabilize blood sugar and is thus useful for those with hypoglycemia and diabetes alike. Like other members of the cabbage family, kohlrabi is effective against edema, candida and some viral conditions.
There is some compelling evidence that mustard greens have some very potent anticancer potential. They are very high in nutrients and compounds that work against the mechanisms of cancerous cells. Additionally mustard greens are good for colds, arthritis or depression by lowering inflammation and boosting the immune system. If you are buying mustard greens look for the milder kind first, since some mustard green varieties, especially those in Asia, can be as hot as a jalapeno due to their mustard oil content.
What would life be like without onions? I love cooking with onions – just not cutting them up. An excellent antioxidant, onions have anti-allergy, antiviral and antihistamine properties. One of the best things about onions is their high level of sulphur compounds, which help the body to create glutathione and detoxify. Another action of the sulphur from onions is to aid in cellular repair be supporting DNA replication. Onions are also a rich source of quercetin, which is a potent antioxidant.
Parsley is useful as a digestive aid and helps to purify the blood and stimulate proper bowel function. A little known fact about parsley is that it contains three times as much vitamin C as oranges, and twice as much iron as spinach. Parsley also contains vitamin A and is a good source of copper and manganese. And of all the anti-garlic-breath remedies out there, parsley tops them all. If you love garlic, like I do, keep some parsley close at hand.
It is recently come to my attention, through hair analysis, that there are a lot of folks that are zinc deficient. Pumpkin seeds to the rescue! Pumpkin seeds are high in zinc, which is good for the prostate, building the immune system, and battling high levels of copper (which can unbalance hormones). They also contain fatty acids that kill parasites. For maximum nutritional benefits, pumpkin seeds should be eaten raw.
Another powerful member of the cabbage family, radishes have antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. Radishes also contain vitamin C, potassium and other trace minerals and come in many colour varieties including: red, pink, white, gray-black or yellow.
If you need some carbs and you are not eating grains (for various reasons) then sweet potatoes are an excellent alternate. Sweet potatoes are a powerful source of carotenoid antioxidants, vitamins A and C, thiamine, and potassium. As with all carbohydrates, if you are trying to lose some weight – go easy. If you have a problem with nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers) you don’t have to worry about sweet potatoes since they are actually a member of the morning glory family.
The harvest wouldn’t be the same without fresh vine-ripened tomatoes. Rich in lycopene, flavonoids and other phytochemicals, tomatoes have been shown to have potent anticarcinogenic properties. They are also an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A and B-complex vitamins, potassium and phosphorus.
If you take anything away from the article is should be that real whole foods are packed with nutrition. Be very diligent in getting as many into your daily routine as possible. They are an invaluable and necessary part of a long, healthy and happy life!Read More →