Contrary to many dieting fables, feeling and looking good has less to do with the quantity you eat and more to do with the quality of what you eat. Beyond fewer pounds and greater energy, studies have unveiled that the consumption of certain foods and avoidance of others can significantly reduce the risk of numerous conditions and diseases including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, cataracts and blindness. Food is arguably the most important field in non-drug medicine, with science increasingly turning to nature in its quest for solutions to the growing health crisis. Figures show that 95 per cent of people die from heart disease, cancer or diabetes - these top three killers all being diet related. In fact, eight out of the top 10 causes of death in the US have dietary correlations.
With the consensus diet trends of the West today, fast life-styles, processed foods and soil depletion, many people aren't getting the nutrition they require for optimum or even adequate health. Superfoods, packed with a rich and varied supply of nutrients and phytochemicals, are the heroic dynamos that serve as valuable expedients on our journey to healthier living.
These kings and queens reign by virtue of their outstanding compositions and offer a cornucopia of gifts to the body and its functioning. Superfoods are the most health-promoting, anti-aging, disease-fighting, mood-enhancing, beautifying, nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich foods on the planet; the pièce de résistance of the plant kingdom with astonishing benefits.
The worlds 5 top superfoods:
The inner gel of the aloe vera leaf contains around 200 active compounds with over 75 nutrients. These include 20 minerals, 18 amino acids and 12 vitamins (even vitamin B12 - one of the very few plant sources of this vitamin). Aloe vera has anti-microbial properties fighting fungi and bacteria and contains anti-inflammatory plant steroids and enzymes. Aloe vera also aids digestion and elimination, boosts the immune system, and is incredibly healing and beautifying for the skin, stimulating collagen production and moisturizing.
Goji berries contain 500 times more vitamin C than oranges and more beta-carotene than carrots as well as 21 minerals, 18 amino acids, B vitamins (B1, B2 and B6) and vitamin E, efficacious polysaccarides that excel at boosting the immune system and other complex compounds that work their bio-magic in the body. Goji berries are said to deter aging (eaten daily by the most well documented case of longevity, Li Qing Yuen, who reportedly lived to the age of 252!), boost your libido, lower cholesterol and improve vision. They also show anti-cancer potential due to their content of germanium, a trace mineral known to induce the production of the powerful anti-cancer agent interferon.
Pure chocolate contains over 300 compounds including psychoactives such as PEA (phenylethylamine) the 'love chemical' that releases dopamine in the pleasure-centres of the brain and is said to induce feelings of excitement, attraction, and euphoria, and the feel-good cannabinoid anandamide that mimics the effects of marijuana and has recently been attributed to the 'runner's high' experienced by athletes. Tryptophan is also known for its mood-enhancing traits and increases levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Chocolate is an aphrodisiac king, these chemicals no doubt contributing to such efficacy, and contains 'nature's Viagra' arginine that enhances arousal and sensation in men and women. Chocolate is also the highest antioxidant food on the planet, exceeding blueberries, grapes and green tea, is exceptionally high in magnesium (great for the heart and nervous system) and contains the beautifying mineral sulphur. No wonder it has been called 'the food of the gods'! Note that these properties are highest in raw cacao (pure and unrefined) which is leagues apart from commercial chocolate products, containing none of the detriments such as sugar, hydrogenated fats, milk, additives, agro-chemicals and solvents.
Chlorella (and Spirulina)
Water grown algae such as chlorella and spirulina have phenomenal nutritional value. Chlorella is 60% protein (19 amino acids including all eight essentials), contains all the B vitamins (including B12 - a rare plant source), vitamins C and E, a wealth of minerals and trace minerals, nucleic acids (RNA and DNA) and chlorophyll (the highest quantities of these ever found in a natural source), as well as essential fatty acids and a host of phytochemicals. Chlorella is exceptionally good at detoxifying the body of pollutants such as heavy metals, pesticides and PCB's. It also contains age-defying nucleic acids, is immune and blood boosting and shown to be an effective aid aside cancer treatments. Chlorella is the most popular supplement in Japan, classified by the government as a 'functional food' and taken daily by over 7 million users. Aside a few differing benefits, chlorella and spirulina have many parallel virtues. As a note, grasses such as wheat and barley grass are also potent detoxifiers, bursting with life and high in enzymes, chlorophyll, antioxidants and amino acids.
Called the 'perfect food', bee pollen has an awesome constitution. Around 40% protein of a highly digestible form, these magical grains house 16 vitamins, 28 minerals, a host of enzymes, hormone precursors (that stimulate hormone production), lecithin, fatty acids, nucleic acids and antioxidant phytonutrients as well as yet identified constituents. Studies have revealed antibiotic and cholesterol lowering abilities, immune system enhancement and excellent skin healing traits. Pollen is also believed to be an anti aging food, discovered by Dr. Tsitsin, chief biologist at the Longevity Institute in Vladivostak, to be eaten daily by over 200 natives of Georgia (formerly the Soviet Union) that were living upwards of 125 years of age! Try to get fresh or unheated pollen to reap the benefits of all the enzymes and healthy constituents. Other bee products such as honey and propolis are also potent healing foods.
Copyright 2006 Sylvia Riley
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