“An apple a day keeps the doctor away” is an old Welsh proverb that most of us are familiar with, but what makes this fruit so special? What health benefits are associated with eating apples? Apples are extremely rich in important antioxidants, flavanoids, and dietary fiber.
The phytonutrients and antioxidants in apples may help reduce the risk of developing cancer, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease.
Apples deserve to be called “nutritional powerhouses”. They contain the following important nutrients: -Vitamin C: a powerful natural antioxidant capable of blocking some of the damage caused by free radicals, as well as boosting the body’s resistance against infectious agents, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. -B-complex vitamins: (riboflavin, thiamin, and vitamin B-6) these vitamins are key in maintaining red blood cells and the nervous system in good health. -Dietary fiber: the British National Health Service2 says that a diet high in fiber can help prevent the development of certain diseases and may help prevent the amount of bad cholesterol in your blood from rising. -Phytonutrients: apples are rich in polyphenolic compounds”. These phytonutrients help protect the body from the detrimental effects of free radicals.
Minerals such as calcium, potassium, and phosphorus.
A handful of spinach can do wonders for your brain. Spinach is a great source of folate, a B-vitamin that helps the brain in many ways. Folate helps maintain healthy brain circulation by preventing the buildup of plaque. Folate, also called methyl, helps to form neurotransmitters needed for all thinking and learning. In addition, folate helps protect DNA in neurons from damage. Lastly, folate helps the liver to detoxify substances in the body to keep the brain healthy. Scientists found that a diet rich in spinach can help keep your brain alert in old age. The vegetable is packed with antioxidants which experts say can block the effects of free radicals – toxins produced by the body that damage cells and can lead to heart disease, cancer and strokes.
Studies suggest the lifelong accumulation of free radicals in the brain is linked to mental decline in old age and is also a probable factor in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. For those who can’t stomach their greens, blueberries are also rich in antioxidants, scientists also found. They said this ‘has rather hopeful implications for prevention of neurological disorders in our increasingly aging population’ Try spinach raw or lightly sauteed with olive oil and fresh garlic, or freshly juiced.
Centuries before European confectioners processed the beans of the Theobroma cacao plant to make a confection we call “chocolate,” cocoa was used in Mexico and parts of Latin America in its powdered form for medicinal purposes. Recent studies in medical journals have found that cocoa may actually be cardioprotective, and a new study showed it may even be able to reverse the effects of endothelial dysfunction by improving the dilation of blood vessels. Cocoa has a high concentration of polyphenol compounds, specifically a class of natural compounds called flavonoids. Scientists have identified several cocoa flavanols, including epicatechin and catechin, which can benefit circulatory health. Cocoa flavanols improve endothelial function by enhancing nitric oxide bioactivity, increasing blood flow, reducing the tendency of blood clot formation, reducing moderately high blood pressure, and helping LDL resist oxidation, which may prevent the buildup of atherosclerotic plaque in artery walls.
A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that giving flavanol-rich cocoa to diabetic patients improved their vascular function. In an editorial accompanying the research report, another team of scientists noted that the study provides “sizable evidence that cocoa flavanols have a positive effect on the health of the arteries.”
The benefit of grapes comes from flavonoids that give them, their juices and wines that vibrant purple colour. The flavonoids, quercitin and resveratrol, appear to be most concentrated in the skins, stems and seeds of grapes rather than their juicy middle sections. These flavonoids have been shown to prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol (‘bad’ cholesterol) that leads to the formation of plaque in artery walls. They can also lower the risk of developing the blood clots that lead to heart attacks. Also berries (such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries) are rich in antioxidant flavonoids (such as anthocyanins) that can help prevent artery hardening and help to scour plaque from the walls of the arteries.
Antioxidants are a major help in fighting free radicals, which may be damaging to joints and can contribute to joint discomfort. Antioxidants include vitamin A (or beta carotene and other carotenoids), vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium. An easy way to remember these is the acronym ACES. Foods that contain any of the four ACES are powerful weapons for combating free radicals. Choice foods for each include:
Vitamin C – Fruits such as grapefruit, papaya, oranges, mangoes, raspberries, pineapples and tomatoes, as well as vegetables such as asparagus, red peppers, and broccoli Vitamin E – Avocados, whole-grain breads and cereals, sunflower seeds and peanut butter Selenium – Salmon , Brazil nuts, oatmeal and brown rice
Certain fatty acids are protective by nature and can reduce swelling and discomfort in joints. The most common types of fatty acids are omega-3s. Excellent dietary sources include cold water fatty fish such as salmon, sardines and herring, as well as green vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains.