superfood

SuperFood

1. Açai Berry
The açai (ah-sigh-ee) palm tree grows in Central and South America, with a range that extends from Belize south to Brazil and Peru. The palm produces a small, deeppurple fruit that is one of the primary foodstuffs for native people living in the Amazon region of Brazil where it is harvested. Açai “berry”—actually a drupe—tastes like a mixture of berries and chocolate, and is packed full of antioxidants, amino acids, and essential fatty acids. It has ten times the anthocyanins of red wine. It also has a protein profile similar to egg whites.
At least one study has shown that chemical compounds extracted from the açai berry slow the proliferation of leukemia cells in laboratory cultures, and others have shown that it has a powerful effect against common oxygen free radicals. The açai fruit not only shows potential in cancer prevention, but also reduces inflammation, which has been implicated in heart and lung disease, allergies, and auto-immune disorders.
For a fruit, açai contains a relatively high proportion of fatty acids, including oleic, palmitic, and linoleic (an unsaturated omega-6 fatty acid), as well as aspartic and glutamic amino acids, which contribute to building proteins.
Nutritional Facts :
One ounce of freeze-dried pulp provides 152 calories, 14 g carbohydrate, 2.5 g protein, 9 g fat, 13 g dietary fiber, 286 IU vitamin A, 74 mg calcium, 17 mg phosphorus, and 1.3 mg iron.
2. Apples
The old adage holds true: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Doctors in ancient Greece praised the healing properties of apples. Galen, the famous second-century Greek physician, wrote that apples “restore countless invalids to health” and described the healing properties of different types of apples for several illnesses.
What the ancients didn’t know is what substance in apples makes them so good at protecting health. We now know that it’s a flavonoid called quercetin and that apples are one of the best dietary sources for it. In laboratory studies, quercetin reduces allergic reactions and inflammation, and it has demonstrated some potential to limit the growth of tumors. It may also reduce symptoms in chronic prostatitis and interstitial cystitis. A study in 2007 found that cyclists given quercetin during a regimen involving three hours of bicycling per day developed fewer respiratory tract infections than a control group that did not get the supplement.
Apples have long been appreciated for their keeping qualities—stored in a cool and dry cellar or barn, they provided crisp, fresh flavor throughout the winter even in the days before refrigeration. Today, properly refrigerated, they will keep for months. Apples are also a good source of pectin, a soluble dietary fiber that helps lower cholesterol and is useful for relieving both constipation and diarrhea. Apples’ high fiber content means that they slow the absorption of glucose—good for controlling blood sugar. And they contain alpha hydroxy acids, so you can even use apples as an exfoliating masque for your skin.
Unsweetened organic applesauce makes a great snack by itself and can replace oil and fats in baked goods. I use applesauce in place of the oil in my oat bran muffins, making them much more moist and tasty—and lower in fat and calories— than muffins made with oil. The trick also works for baking brownies, producing a chocolate treat that’s fluffy, moist, and cake-like.
Nutritional Facts :
One medium size (about 4-inch diameter) apple with the skin provides 81 calories, 21 g carbohydrate, 0.3 g protein, 0.5 g fat, 3.7 g dietary fiber, 73 IU vitamin A, 8 mg vitamin C, 10 mg calcium, and 159 mg potassium.
3. Apricots
The apricot has been cultivated for at least 5,000 years. Both fresh and dried, this fruit provides plenty of vitamin A, potassium, beta-carotene, and iron. In addition, a fresh apricot provides 17 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C. Dried apricots, high in dietary fiber, provide nearly a gram of fiber in just three halves. Fiber is essential for intestinal health, but most Americans consume less than 10 grams per day. Include apricots in your diet as a delicious way to add to your fiber intake.
Nutritional Facts :
(raw apricots) Three medium raw apricots provide 51 calories, 11.8 grams carbohydrate, 1.5 g protein, 0.4 g fat, 2.5 g dietary fiber, 2769 IU vitamin A, 11 mg vitamin C, 15 mg calcium, 314 mg potassium, and 20 mg phosphorus.
(dried apricots) Three dried apricot halves provide 24 calories, 6.6 g carbohydrate, 0.4 g protein, 0 g fat, and 0.9 g dietary fiber.
4. Bananas
Bananas grow in more than 100 countries and are a major food crop throughout the tropical world, where they are cultivated in many sizes and colors, including red, yellow, purple, and green. Only 10 to 15 percent of the bananas grown are for export.
In the United States, the vast majority of supermarket bananas are the Cavendish variety, a sweet, seedless, yellow “dessert” banana—one eaten without cooking.
Plantains, which have become more readily available in recent years, are banana varieties intended for cooking, and they tend to be less sweet and more starchy.
Because our fruit-stand bananas are so sweet, they’ve gotten a bad reputation among the low-carb crowd. But they are an incredibly rich source of potassium, vital for regulating blood pressure and a factor in preventing heart disease, stroke, and muscle cramps. One medium banana provides more potassium by weight than practically any other fruit.
Most of us can afford the 15 grams of carbohydrate found in half a banana in exchange for its nutrient benefits, given that Americans typically get only about half the recommended daily intake of potassium.
Nutritional Facts :
One medium raw banana provides 105 calories, 26.7 g carbohydrate, 1.2 g protein, 0.5 g fat, 2.7 g dietary fiber, 92 IU vitamin A, 10 mg vitamin C, 22 mcg folic acid, 451 mg potassium, 7 mg calcium, 23 mg phosphorus, and 33 mg magnesium.
5. Blackberries
Blackberries may extend your life! The pigments that give them their color are strong antioxidants, and they retain that power when eaten. They’re also rich in anthocyanins, and there is laboratory evidence that anthocyanins may be effective against cancer, diabetes, inflammation, bacterial infections, and neurological diseases.
Every 100 grams of blackberries provides 317 mg of anthocyanins.
Nutritional Facts :
One-half cup of raw blackberries provides 37 calories, 9.2 g carbohydrate, 0.5 g protein, 0.3 g fat, 3.8 g dietary fiber, 119 IU vitamin A, 15 mg vitamin C, 24 mcg folic acid, 141 mg potassium, 23 mg calcium, 15 mg phosphorus, and 14 mg magnesium.
6. Blueberries
The health Benefits of blueberries have made them one of the hottest topics in antiaging research. A potent mix of flavonoids, tannins, and anthocyanins make blueberries one of the top antioxidant foods, ranking first among 40 antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables. A number of studies have shown that blueberries appear to slow down and even reverse age-related neurological degeneration.
Blueberries also have potential as cancer fighters. Lab results show that blueberries appear to slow down the rate of cell mutation and the growth of cancer cells; speed up cell turnover, which gives cancer cells less time to develop; reduce inflammatory agents that have been implicated in the onset of cancer; and slow down the growth of new blood vessels that nourish tumors. Researchers at Ohio State University are in the process of extending this research into human trials. At Rutgers University in New Jersey, researchers have identified a compound in blueberries that promotes urinary tract health and reduces the risk of infection. It appears to work by preventing bacteria from sticking to the cells that line the urinary tract walls.
Nutritional Facts :
One cup of raw blueberries provides 81 calories, 20.5 g carbohydrate, 1 g protein, 0.6 g fat, 3.9 g dietary fiber, 145 IU vitamin A, 19 mg vitamin C, 9 mcg folic acid, 129 mg potassium, 9 mg calcium, 15 mg phosphorus, and 7 mg magnesium.
7. Blueberries Dried
Blueberries rank first among 40 antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, with a potent mix of flavonoids, tannins, and anthocyanins. Dried blueberries provide many of the Benefits of fresh ones, with the addition of more fiber. They are a terrific portable snack!
Nutritional Facts :
One-third cup of dried blueberries provides 140 calories, 33 g carbohydrate, 1 g protein, 0 g fat, 4 g dietary fiber, and 6 mg vitamin C.
8. Boysenberries
Boysenberries are the result of crosses between raspberries, blackberries, and loganberries and are named for Rudolph Boysen, a California horticulturist who experimented with a number of berry hybrids in the 1920s. Although Boysen gave up on commercializing his results, Walter Knott later popularized the unique fruit at his theme park, Knott’s Berry Farm. A dark reddish-purple berry full of anthocyanins and other antioxidants, the boysenberry is reputed to have more than twice the antioxidant power of blueberries. Boysenberries contain ellagic acid, which binds to some carcinogens, including nitrosamines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and thus they may help prevent some cancers.
Nutritional Facts :
One cup of frozen, unsweetened boysenberries provides 66 calories, 16 g carbohydrate, 1.5 g protein, 0.3 g fat, 5.1 g dietary fiber, 88 IU vitamin A, 4 mg vitamin C, 84 mcg folic acid, 183 mg potassium, 36 mg calcium, 36 mg phosphorus, and 21 mg magnesium.
9. Cantaloupe
Both the “true” cantaloupe (the European variety, Cucumis melo cantalupensis, which has a smooth or warty skin) and the North American cantaloupe (Cucumis melo reticulatus, with its “netted” or reticulated rind) are orange-fleshed melons of the muskmelon species, which also includes honeydews and more exotic melons.
What gives cantaloupe a special place among the SuperFoods is its high betacarotene content, indicated by its rich orange color. It’s also a good source of vitamin A. One cup of cantaloupe cubes is just 56 calories, but it provides 103.2 percent of the recommended daily value for vitamin A. Since beta-carotene can be converted into vitamin A in the body, when you eat cantaloupe, it’s like getting a Carbohydrates: Fruits 15 double helping! Vitamin A appears to reduce the risk of cataracts, and it’s a good source of lutein, which some studies have suggested may have a role in preventing age-related macular degeneration, a major cause of blindness in the elderly.
Nutritional Facts :
One cup of raw cantaloupe provides 56 calories, 13.4 g carbohydrate, 1.4 g protein, 0.4 g fat, 1.3 g dietary fiber, 5158 IU vitamin A, 68 mg vitamin C, 27 mcg folic acid, 494 mg potassium, 18 mg calcium, 27 mg phosphorus, and 18 mg magnesium.
10. Cherries
Cherries are a colorful fruit whose pigmentation packs an antioxidant punch. In particular, sour or tart cherries have been found to contain high levels of anthocyanins that work to neutralize free radicals and reduce inflammation. Cherries are a good source of beta-carotene, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, iron, fiber, and folate.
At least two species of tart cherry (Balaton and Montmorency) have been shown to contain melatonin, which may help regulate sleep patterns and help with jet lag. In one study, cherries reduced total weight, body fat (especially the important “belly” fat), inflammation, and cholesterol—all linked to increased risk for heart disease.
Nutritional Facts :
Ten raw sweet cherries provide 49 calories, 11.3 g carbohydrate, 0.8 g protein, 0.7 g fat, 1.6 g dietary fiber, 146 IU vitamin A, 5 mg vitamin C, 3 mcg folic acid, 152 mg potassium, 10 mg calcium, 13 mg phosphorus, and 7 mg magnesium.


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