You probably already have a list of some of your favorite health foods that have a reputation for giving your immune system a huge boost, but I thought I’d share the results of some of the latest research into ‘superfoods’. These food super heroes should be in your pantry, or better yet, in your crisis garden!
1. Leeks, bananas, asparagus, arthichokes and onions all contain prebiotics, fiber that stimulates healthy bacteria in your digestive system. Having the right balance of friendly bacteria is key to proper digestive health and a strong immune system. The last thing any of us needs in a crisis is diarrhea.
2. If you’re anything like me and you’re not a fan of lots of green vegetables, you might be able to cheat your way into the benefits of eating lots of the green leafy stuff by including coriander in your diet. Along with berries, broccoli, peppers and carrots, coriander contains high levels of betacarotene and Vitamin C, both antioxidants that protect against complications of getting older.
3. If your grandmother told you that carrots were good for your night vision, she was right. In fact, Swiss chards, kale, spinach, peas, broccoli and eggs are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin protect eye health and can even reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.
4. Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the US, but increasingly, research is showing that your risk of cancer can be greatly reduced by changes in your diet, including eating more onions. Onions are packed with quercetin, a compound that some believe can protect against lung cancer. Shallots, leeks, chives and garlic are known to help prevent stomach cancer, while apples, oranges, parsley, tea and red wine are reknowned for their general anti-cancer properties.
5. You’ve probably read before how red wine can be good for you, and part of the reason is because the skin of the grapes contain polyphenols, which are great for your heart. The darker the grape, the higher the polyphenol level will be. In addtion to grapes and red wine, grape juice, nuts and oily fish also contain heart-healthy polyphenol.
6. Selenium is a trace mineral that is believed to help regulate your metabolism, improve your immunity and increase your reproductive health. You can find selenium in mussels, Brazil nuts, beef, cod, eggs and tuna.
7. In a long-term survival situation, you might end up eating a lot of venison. Venison is very lean and contains low levels of saturated fat, but is packed with protein, B vitamins, iron and zin. If you’ve not had venison before, it’s a very versatile meat that you can use as steak, as a roast, in stew or even hamburgers. In addition to venison, liver, chicken, beef, lamb, beans and dried fruit contain lots of protein.
8. Our modern diet leaves us with a lot of stuff in our bodies that we don’t really need, and sometimes it’s nice to supplement our diet with things that will help clear us out. One example is rye bread, which is high in fibre, something most of us don’t get enough of. You can also use beans, brown rice, lentils and oats to improve your digestion and reduce the risk of colon cancer and heart disease.
9. Sweet potatoes taste great and recent studies have determined that just one sweet potato gives you almost enough vitamin C to meet your daily requirement. Higher intake of vitamin C helps collagen build up, which will give you a smoother, less wrinkly appearance. Other skin-friendly foods include oranges, strawberries, raspberries and peppers.
10. Finally, if you need some help controlling fluctuating hormones, try hemp. Hemp seeds or cold pressed hemp seed oil contain gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which is the active ingredient in primrose oil, a common natural supplement that many women use to soften the symptoms of PMS. Other foods with GLA include miso, pumpkin seeds and green tea.
Next week I’ll share a few more superfoods you might want to keep around the house.