Superfoods: Protect Your Body By Eating Right

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In North Beach in San Francisco, where some pretty super food gets served every night.

“Absolutely very super food! “ “I really like the taste” are comments by two diners.

But we're not just talking about taste. Research now shows some foods, including tomatoes, onions, garlic, and olive oil -- are among the superfoods. Superfoods are packed with powerful chemicals that may offer your body great protection against chronic disease --

“Including cancer, obesity, and heart disease.Vibrantly colored red yellow orange and green all gving you different types of phytochemicals!”

Natalie Ledesma is a registered dietician at U.C.S.F. She says compounds found in superfoods -- called phytochemicals -- can reduce the risk of cancer, boost the immune system, and even protect the heart. She showed us what everyone should try to eat each week for optimal health.

On her shoppinglist? Herbs!

“Dark green ones (herbs), like rosemary and thyme,

And any intensely colored spice, like tumeric or red pepper.

"Both of those have anti-inflammatory properties.”

Tumeric may reduce the risk of leukemia, skin, and liver cancers. Hot peppers may reduce the risk of colon, stomach, and rectal cancers. Also on the list: green veggies, but not just any green veggies.

"Brussel sprouts are part of the cruciferous vegetable family that has significant anti-cancer properties," said Ledesma. "That family also has a very favorable effect on hormone metabolism."

Other cruciferous veggies include cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower. And don't forget the tomato.

"It is probably the best source of lycopene, which is one of the phytochemicals that has shown significant anticancer properties, especially with prostate and potentially lung and breast cancer as well," said Ledesma.

As for fruit, citrus contains Vitamin C, limonoids, and phenols, which inactivate cancer cells and strengthen the immune system. Cantaloupes, mangos, and carrots contain cancer-fighting carotenoids. And berries are bursting with flavonoids and ellagic acid -- antioxidants that protect against cancer, ulcers, and viruses. Natalie recommends organic.

"Organic fruits and veggies have shown not only to have lower pesticide toxicities and lower pesticide levels, but also now have been shown to have higher phytochemical content," she said.

Don't forget the fatty fish or flaxseed -- both are excellent sources of Omega Three fatty acids that inhibit the growth of cancer cells and boost the immune system, olive oil, which may reduce breast, prostate, or colon cancer, and soy.

"Soy has protective effects for heart disease as well as osteoporosis, potentially," Ledesma said.

And finally onions, garlic, and shallots. They may protect the heart, fight cancer, and help with asthma.

Follow-up Notes

  • North Beach is a neighborhood in San Francisco known for its restaurants.
  • The University of California in San Francisco is a famous medical school.

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