It's true — apples really can keep the doctor away. Dr. Steven Pratt
explains the health benefits of some 'super' fruits and vegetables
In the groundbreaking 2004
national bestseller "SuperFoods RX," Dr. Steven Pratt revealed how 14
nutrients common to the most disease-preventing, anti-aging diets in the
world exist in 14 "superfoods" easily found in your supermarket. Now,
building on cutting-edge science, Pratt leads the next frontier in healthy
living with his new book, "SuperFoods HealthStyle: Proven Strategies for
Lifelong Health." Pratt visited "Weekend Today" to share some tips on these
Apples : Apples are a great source of
fiber, vitamin C, polyphenols and potassium. Apples have proven themselves
to be potent weapons against cancer, heart disease, asthma and Type II
diabetes. They are also filled with super antioxidants. The antioxidant
activity of approximately one apple is equivalent to about 1,500 mg of
vitamin C. And don't peel the apple! The peel has two to six times more
polyphenols and vitamin C than the flesh of the apple itself.
Try to eat: One apple a day
Pomegranates : A new study from the
University of Wisconsin finds that pomegranate-fruit extract inhibits highly
aggressive prostate-cancer cells in the lab. Pomegranates are a great source
of vitamin B6, vitamin C, polyphenols and potassium. Pomegranate juice may
have two to three times the antioxidant power of green tea or even red wine.
The juice has been shown to lower blood pressure and may improve
cardiovascular health and reduce cholesterol.
Try to eat: 4-8 oz. of 100% pomegranate juice multiple times a week
Kiwis : Kiwis are a great source of
vitamin C, folate, vitamin E, potassium, fiber, carotenoids, polyphenols,
chlorophyll, glutathione, pectin and contain low sugar. Kiwis are an unusual
source of vitamin E since the vitamin mostly comes from nuts and oils. One
medium kiwi packs as much vitamin C as an orange. Kiwis help thin the blood,
like aspirin but without the side effects.
Try to eat: One kiwi many times each week
Garlic : Get out the mouthwash! Garlic
is a great source of vitamin C, potassium, arginine, selenium and
polyphenols. It may look small, but it plays a huge role in our health.
Garlic helps fight cancer and cardiovascular disease as well as having
anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. There are nearly 100 nutrients
in a clove of garlic — the most important is a sulfur compound or an amino
acid called allicin. But allicin is not present in a clove of garlic — it's
formed when it is crushed, cut or even chewed!
The best source of garlic is fresh garlic. There are supplements, but one
garlic supplement has 600 mg of allicin, while one clove of fresh garlic has
18,300 mg of allicin. Eat fresh!
Try to eat: Multiple times a week
Onions : An onion is similar to garlic —
it's a great source of vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium, fiber, selenium,
fiber and polyphenols. Just like garlic, health-promoting compounds are
released when the onion is cut. Onions have been shown to lower high
cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. Onions, along with tea, apples
and broccoli are the richest dietary sources of flavonoids, which have been
shown to reduce the risk of heart disease by 20%. And regular consumption of
onions has also been associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer.
Try to eat: Multiple times a week
Parsley, sage, rosemary and ... cinnamon? One study found that 10 grams of
spice (roughly 2 tablespoons) contained as many health-promoting
antioxidants as 10 servings of fruits and vegetables. Virtually all spices
are beneficial and they're essentially free of calories. They are full of
phytonutrients that lower inflammation and other age-related diseases like
Cinnamon : The USDA found that half a
teaspoon a day lowered blood-sugar levels in patients with Type II diabetes
and brought down their bad cholesterol. For a double benefit, try
substituting spices for salt. Use a vegetable all-purpose seasoning,
available in most natural-food stores. Also, smelling cinnamon offers a
"brain boost" and it is anti-bacterial. It's has been shown to be effective
in fighting E.coli.
Turmeric : Although best known as a
spice that gives a distinctive flavor and yellow color to curry powder and
mustard, turmeric ( curcuma longa) is a member of the ginger family and has
long been used for healing. Ayurveda, siddha, unani and other traditional
medicine systems practiced in India have relied on this pungent spice for
centuries, so it's not surprising that the Asian subcontinent is where the
most intensive research about this herb has been conducted. The plant's
healing properties reside in its fingerlike stalk, which is scalded and then
dried for medicinal preparations. This is the same part of the plant used to
flavor, color and preserve foods. Turmeric also relieves rheumatoid
arthritis and cystic fibrosis.
Dark chocolate : Perhaps the best news
is that dark chocolate (but not milk chocolate) is now a superfood. It's not
just the antioxidants that make it healthy. Dark chocolate contains
substances similar to the heart-healthy compounds in green tea. The latest
research focuses on flavanols. They help boost the production of nitric
oxide in blood vessels, lowering blood pressure and improving blood flow.
Six brands were tested for levels of these compounds. The winner: Newman's
Own sweet dark chocolate. It's even organic. Super, indeed.
Try to eat: About 100 calories of dark chocolate daily, adjusting your
calorie intake and exercise appropriately
Fats and extra virgin olive oil
Extra virgin olive oil : Long a staple
of the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet, olive oil is looking even better
now that scientists have shown that the extra-virgin variety has
anti-inflammatory properties. Extra virgin olive oil is a great source of
monounsaturated fatty acids, vitamin E, carotenoids, polyphenols and
phytosterols. Olive oil can reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer,
lower blood pressure and improve heart health. Look for the words "first
cold pressed," which indicate that little heat was used. Heat destroys some
of the beneficial compounds. The greener the oil, the better.
Try to eat: One tablespoon on most days
Avocado : A great source of fiber,
monounsaturated fatty acids, magnesium, folate, vitamin E, chlorophyll and
carotenoids. Avocados are rich in magnesium, which is an essential nutrient
for healthy bones, the cardiovascular system (especially regulating blood
pressure), prevention of migraines and Type II diabetes. Avocados provide
more magnesium than the 20 most commonly eaten fruits. They are also rich in
potassium and folate. Various studies have shown a correlation between diets
high in folate and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Try to eat: 1/3-1/2 of an avocado multiple times a week.