It is bold to assert that one can identify the top foods that human being must eat regularly in order to optimize wellness, retard aging, and maximize longevity. At the risk of infuriating readers by omitting some of their favorites or including others they find distasteful, I wish to identify what 35 years of experience and consultation with many distinguished colleagues in the field have revealed as most beneficial to human health.
I will assume appropriate in take of protein and calories to sustain life. Also, be mindful that each of the following foods is a powerhouse of wholesome good food value and can be prepared in deliciously exciting ways, pleasing to even the most finicky palates.
1) Essential fatty acids, especially omega-3s
Volumes have been written on omega-3s as building blocks for all cell membranes as raw materials for local hormones, and on their wide-ranging effects reducing inflammation, reducing cardiovascular risk, supporting mental functioning, reducing depression and more. Every single cell in your body can suffer from omega-3 deficiency and benefit from optimal omega-3 intake. What are our best sources? The most concentrated sources are flaxseed oil and fish oil. Judicious blends of essential fatty acid sources are also available.
Omega-3 fatty acids in flax and fish oil
- Help maintain healthy low inflammation
- Help maintain healthy blood pressure levels
- Reduce risk of heart attack or stroke
- Reduce tendency for asthma attacks
Sugars and starches are merely the simplest membered of the carbohydrate family. Fiber compounds, native to the whole range of whole organic plant foods, are far more varied and underappreciated missing components of the modern refined diet. For example, lignans, found in oil seeds, especially flaxseed, have demonstrated remarkable benefits in reducing risk for breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, complications from diabetes, and liver damage from chemical insult.
- Help protect against breast, uterine and prostate cancers
- Decrease risk for diabetes
- Helps maintain healthy blood pressure levels
- Protects against cardiovascular disease
Now we begin discussing the value of brilliantly pigmented foods. We're talking about more than just romaine lettuce here. Except for people who are culturally rooted in the American Southeast, the wide range of green leafy vegetables (collards, kale, turnip, mustard greens, chard, etc.) seems to be foreign to many American dinner plates. This is tragic because greens are teeming with micronutrients (folate, magnesium, potassium, antioxidants, etc.). Greens must be micronutrient powerhouses because they have sustained virtually all species of herbivores since the dawn of time on earth. To make them more palatable, use healthy culinary accouterments-onions, garlic, fresh ginger, balsamic vinegar or curry powder-to upgrade your taste. You can power up your intake of an enormous range of nutrients to a whole new level by taking a greens concentrate with water of juice every day.
4) Carotene-rich foods
Of the hundreds of members of the carotene family of compounds, the body can convert some into vitamin A. Although carotenes are found in greens, people are more aware of the bright yellow, orange and red fruits and vegetables rich in these compounds, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, squash and apricots. Carotenes are powerful antioxidants and support visual acuity, integrity of the skin and mucous membranes (lungs and gastrointestinal tract) and immune function, while reducing the risk for cancer.
5) Flavonoid-rich foods
The flavonoids are an even larger family than carotenoids. In addition to green leaves, flavonoids are found in the dark red, purple and blue vegetables and fruit like red beets, dark berries and dark cherries. But flavonoids are also found in diverse foods as onions and apples. Invaluable functions of flavonoids include slowing the aging process, antioxidant protection, supporting integrity of connective tissue (the most abundant tissue in the body that holds us together), reducing cardiovascular risk, reducing inflammation tendency and optimizing the way tissues respond to environmental and lifestyle challenges.
6) Nuts and seeds
Long before agricultural development of grains and legumes, nuts and seeds were important parts of the human diet among strong, vigorous hunter-gatherer peoples. In addition to being great sources of high quality fiber (including lignans, most abundant on flaxseed), nuts and seeds are also premier sources of essential fatty acids, minerals (zinc and selenium) and vitamin E.
7) Culinary herbs and spices
These include onions, garlic, ginger, turmeric, basil, oregano, parsley and cilantro. Why are these and other natural flavoring agents important to health? Spices and cooking herbs contain a wide range of antioxidants. Fresh onions, garlic and ginger also help reduce abnormal blood clotting tendency that can lead to heart attack or stroke. A pigment in turmeric, a major ingredient in curry powder, is an excellent botanical anti-inflammatory. Cinnamon helps control blood sugar, so even what we use ton add flavorful zest to our foods can be good for us.
8) Raw plant foods
It has been observed that patients with malignancies and other disorders seem to do better on a diet of raw food. We are speaking mainly of plant foods. Of course, research is needed to confirm this observation. What is the advantage of eating at least some raw foods everyday? Cooking damages some enzymes and polyunsaturated, heat-sensitive nutrients in plant foods. There is a great controversy surrounding microwave cooking as the most damaging. Animal foods may need to be cooked to prevent exposure to parasites. Yet, raw plant foods are safe if hygiene is adequate (not so in many nations of the world) and if a person is not in a state of immune system comprise. Some people prefer eating uncooked foods that are safe and palatable in that state-for example, fruits, some vegetables, fresh juices, nuts and seeds and fresh oil.