Nutrition

Top 10 power plant foods

Author: Canadian Living

Nutrition

Top 10 power plant foods

Natural wonders

Plant foods are packed with phytochemicals, biologically active plant chemicals that are vital to your health. Thousands of phytochemicals have been identified, and many act as antioxidants, reducing the activity of free radicals, harmful compounds produced by the body that damage DNA and body tissues and lead to chronic disease. Plant foods are also good sources of potassium; vitamins A, C and E; folate; and fibre.

Cancer-fighting carotenoids
Carotenoids are a group of pigments found in plants, and all offer potent protection against a variety of cancers.

Lycopene is responsible for the red colour in tomatoes, watermelon and red grapefruit.
Lutein makes broccoli and spinach green.
Beta-carotene is the most abundant carotenoid and is found in dark green and bright yellow or orange vegetables, and red and orange fruits, including cantaloupes, mangoes, apricots and papayas. Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A by the body.

Plant power shopping list
1. Leafy green vegetables, specifically kale, collards and spinach, are excellent sources of fibre, vitamins A and C and the cancer-fighting carotenoid lutein.

Good for you recipes:
White Bean and Kale Soup

2. Tomatoes, pink grapefruit and watermelon are sources of vitamins A and C and of lycopene, a phytochemical associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer.

3. Berries, including cranberries, have antioxidant properties and are a source of anthocyanins, which belong to the group of plant compounds called flavonoids. Flavonoids may have antioxidant abilities and are being studied for their anticancer potential.

Good for you recipes:
Banana Berry Smoothie

4. Soybean products, such as tofu, can help lower cholesterol, may protect bone health and may prevent cancer.

Good for you recipes:
Cumin Carrot Tofu Patties

5. Fibre -- both soluble and insoluble -- offers a spectrum of benefits for heart health and the prevention of colon cancer and diabetes.

Good for you recipes:
Fibreful Muffins

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6. Ground Flaxseeds are associated with heart health and the prevention of stroke and cancer. They are a rich source of fibre, omega-3 fatty acids and lignans, which have antioxidant properties. Some research has shown that a diet rich in soy products and flaxseeds can help ease the symptoms of menopause in some women.

Good for you recipes:
Farmland Flax Cookies
Country Seed Bread

7. Garlic contains allylic sulphides, phytochemicals that may have cancer-fighting properties. Garlic is being studied for its antioxidant activities and potential heart-healthy benefits -- it is suggested it may lower cholesterol and blood pressure and prevent blood clots.

Good for you recipes:
Roasted Garlic and Tomato Savoury Custard
Roasted Garlic Soup and Tomato Salsa

8. Onions contain quercetin, an antioxidant that may reduce the risk of heart disease by preventing LDL cholesterol from oxidizing, which causes it to become artery-clogging.

Good for you recipes:
Balsamic Onion Crisp
Caramelized Onion Pie with Rice Crust

9. Legumes include dried beans and lentils. They are low in fat and sodium and are generally good sources of both soluble and insoluble fibre, protein, iron, calcium and folate.

Good for you recipes:
Lentil Curry with Squash and Spinach
Black Bean Chili with Avocado Salsa

10. Nuts and seeds are great sources of protein, fibre, iron and vitamin E. They're high in fat, but many varieties contain healthy fats as well as an array of antioxidants. Walnuts, for example, are a source of omega-3 fatty acids and ellagic acid, a compound with cancer-fighting properties. Pumpkin seeds are a source of phytosterols, which compete with cholesterol for absorption in the gut and may lower cholesterol levels.

Good for you recipes:
Sesame Fish on Spinach
Sesame-Crusted Scallops with Black Bean Sauce

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Nutrition

Top 10 power plant foods

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