This is a list of twelve power foods that promote optimal health when part of your diet. No single food performs miracles or supplies all the nutrients your body and mind need to function optimally. The real value of these power foods involves food synergy. Each one provides benefits, and when eaten together they offer health payoffs.
Nuts are nutritious, and almonds provide calcium. One ounce provides 75 grams, equivalent to 1/4 cup of milk. They’re also a good source of potassium and iron, zinc, copper, and other trace minerals, including magnesium and phosphorus. Raw or dry-roasted, unsalted nuts are the healthiest. Almonds are also a good source of vitamin E. One ounce provides 6 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber. Free of trans fats and cholesterol, almonds contain good fats to support the cardiovascular system, similar to avocados. Edgar Cayce referred to them as "Nature's Surgeon," rich in silica, they cut out cysts and tumors from the body. They calm the nerves, provide fiber and are a good substitute for milk in recipes when you powder them in a blender with water, vanilla and honey.
Cultivated for over 7,000 years, avocado selections exceed 500 in variety. Guacamole has been traced to early Aztec cultures. They are calorie dense, but the monounsaturated fat they contain is good for you. Monounsaturated fats help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and maintain HDL (good) cholesterol levels when substituted for less-healthy saturated fats. Avocados provide folate (an important B vitamin), potassium, vitamin E, and lutin. Recent research found avocados act as a nutrient-booster when added to other foods, like salads and salsa—helping the body absorb and utilize other nutrients.
Antioxidants are vital in helping our bodies fight off free radicals, the harmful byproducts of cellular metabolism that contribute to age-related diseases. Researchers at the US Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging tested a variety of fresh and dried fruits, vegetables, nuts, and herbs and spices for total antioxidant capacity per serving and found blueberry scored the highest. They are associated with health benefits like improving brain function, lowering blood cholesterol levels, and promoting urinary tract health. European blueberry, bilberry, contributes to eye health through its ability to improve night vision and reverse macular degeneration.
Tea derived from the Camellia sinensis plant are rich sources of antioxidant compounds called polyphenols, which protect against damage from free radicals. The antioxidant compounds in green tea have been estimated to be more than 100 times as powerful as vitamin C. Ongoing studies are investigating a range of this leaf’s benefits—from cardiovascular health to immune system support. Research shows that drinking several cups of green tea a day can help lower risks for both heart disease and cancer.
Loaded with folate and riboflavin, broccoli is one of the cruciferous vegetables that aids in the prevention of cancer and diseases. Broccoli provides a protective effect against these diseases as a great source of fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and phytochemicals. The phytochemicals in broccoli include indoles, which protect against hormone-related cancers like breast and prostate, and sulforathane, which operates to increase the production of Phase 2 enzymes within the body that can help rid the body of carcinogens. Sulforathane has the ability to shorten the lifespan of cancer cells and inhibit development of cancer.
Guavas, traced to ancient Peru, have been discovered in many archaeological sites. The scent of the essential oil eugenol, also found in cloves, enticed sailors from Spain and Portugal to carry guava seeds to other parts of the world. The sweet tropical guava is packed with more than a day’s worth of vitamin C to boost the immune system; carotenoids that fight signs of aging and protect against cancer; potassium to maintain healthy blood pressure, and fiber to regulate bowel function.
Ginger is one of the universal healing herbs. In Ayurvedic medicine, it is considered tri-doshic, meaning it is appropriate for all three dosha types. It aids digestion and combats nausea. This pungent herb is also good for colds and flu. It cuts congestion and mucus generated by dairy products. Ginger has strong antibiotic and antibacterial properties. Because it has a warming effect on the body it also aids in burning body fat.
This is a rich source of protein, B vitamins, vitamin D, and potassium, and it is low in saturated fat. It’s also rich in omega-3s, especially EPA and DHA. From a cardiovascular perspective, these reduce clotting, lower levels of triglycerides, slightly lower blood pressure, and reduce the formation of arterial plaque. The American Heart Association recommends 1,000 mg of omega-3s daily, and two ounces of salmon meets that requirement. Recent concerns have arisen over farm-raised salmon because of high levels of PCBs (implicated in the development of cancer) and high counts of bacteria from questionable farming practices. Opt for wild salmon when it’s available, and limit your consumption of farm-raised to twice a month.
Oatmeal is rich in B complex vitamins, magnesium, potassium, iron, and soluble fiber, which gives it its chewy texture. This fiber lowers cholesterol and promotes heart health. Steel cut oats have a higher level of protein and fiber than the instant variety, and also retains the vitamin E in the grain germ.
Sometimes referred to as yams, sweet potatoes are not related to the familiar potato. Their name is derived from the Haitian word batata, and its descendents were wild tubers grown in Peru around 8000 BC. Sweet potatoes are loaded with carotenoids, vitamin C and A, folate, vitamin B-6, copper, potassium, and fiber. The bright orange color denotes high quantities of beta-carotene, which promotes growth and repair of body tissue, healthy eyes, and a strong immune system.
Part of the onion family, garlic was left as a food offering in Egyptian tombs, and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine and other ancient healing traditions for thousands of years. Garlic has strong antioxidant and antibacterial properties and is good for cardiovascular health. A powerful anti-clotting herb, garlic thins the blood and stops platelets from getting sticky and aggregating (clumping together), which can then decrease blood clots and help prevent heart attacks. Garlic helps protect against colds and flu.
OLIVES & OLIVE OILS
A great choice for energy, Bach used it in his flower essences for exhaustion. Edgar Cayce advocated the oil several times a day for digestive disturbances. It is the best oil for cooking, it does not go rancid when heated. It is considered to be a staple of the Mediterranean diet to have a healthy heart and normal blood pressure.
Add sliced avocado to your favorite sandwich or salad, or smash the ripe fruit with chopped tomatoes, a squeeze of fresh lime juice, a half clove of minced garlic, freshly ground pepper, and a dash of sea salt for guacamole that can be used as either a dip for vegetable and chips, or as a sandwich dressing.
Cut sweet potatoes into 1/2-inch thick slices and roast until tender, about 25 minutes at 350°F. Drizzle with chopped pecans and 1 tablespoon organic maple syrup.
Make oatmeal an occasional lunch or dinner substitute. Dress it up with cinnamon, currants, nuts, and fresh berries or chopped apple.
Canned salmon is almost always wild and all salmon is healthiest baked or grilled. Have yours with a salsa made from guava, papaya, sweet onions, and mango.
You can buy whole ginger root at most natural products stores. Add sliced ginger to a stir-fry of broccoli, tofu, onions, garlic, bean shoots, and pea pods. Prepare a cold-blasting tea with fresh ginger and boiling water and add honey or lemon to taste.
Slice fresh guava and serve alongside pineapple and mango for a tropical breakfast. Add a boiled egg for protein on a slice of multi-grain toast spread with 1/2 tablespoon of nut butter.
One ounce of almonds equals about 23 nuts. Sprinkle some on your morning yogurt, or enjoy them alongside a piece of fruit as an afternoon snack. Use 1 tablespoon almond butter as a spread on pear or apple slices, or as a substitute for butter on toast.
Add slices of citrus fruit or lightly crushed berries to a pitcher of freshly brewed green tea. After the tea is completely cooled, strain fruit, pour over ice and enjoy.
Toss a handful of fresh blueberries into your morning cereal, or add to whole wheat pancake mix. Top pancakes with more fresh berries, 1 tablespoon sliced almonds, and 2 tablespoons organic maple syrup.
Beth Coleman, N.D., Medical Intuitive, Empath and Instructor makes no claims, promises or guarantees and is neither diagnosing nor treating specific health challenges. Participants are solely responsible for managing and continuing their own medical treatment and care.