It’s time to get serious about our health ladies. With the rise of Type II diabetes, the unrelenting prevalence of cancer and growing numbers of black women with heart disease, it’s no longer an option to wait until you feel sick before you start to take your health seriously. One of the easiest ways to defend against Type II diabetes, cancer and a myriad of other diseases plaguing black women is to eat healthy. We’ve been experimenting with some healthy superfoods lately and want to encourage you to do the same. So next time you head to your grocery store, bring this list with you and see what a real difference healthy food makes.
1. Brazil Nuts – This nut is rich in the mineral selenium. Brazil nuts provide antioxidant protection and can help fight against cancer, heart disease and promote a healthy thyroid. Eating a few a day (too many can be toxic) will protect your body as well as help it recycle vitamin C and recharge vitamin E for overall optimal health.
2. GoodBelly Probiotic Fruit Drink – Approximately 70% of the body’s immune system is located in the digestive tract. So in order to maintain optimal health, it’s vital that your digestive system is healthy too. Keeping a healthy digestive system is a matter of balancing the good (microflora) bacteria and bad bacteria in your body. One way to do this is by consuming probiotics. They’ve been found to improve your core digestive health and strengthen your immune system. You can purchase this drink in your local health food store. They come in great flavors (my fav flavor is Black Currant). Have it in the morning with your multi-vitamin!
3. Sweet Potatoes – Sweet potatoes are not just for Thanksgiving anymore. They contain phytonutrients which not only promote heart and eye health but they also boost immunity. They’re packed with beta-carotene, which is thought to lower breast cancer risk. Additionally, they contain significant quantities of vitamin A which may reduce the effects of smoking. Fresh produce is always best but I recently discovered frozen sweet potato fries at Whole Foods, they taste great baked. *Courtesy of O, The Oprah Magazine
4. Avoid Produce Pesticides – If you’re wondering if it makes any difference to buy/eat organic food, we’ve got one word for you, pesticides. Some produce is so riddled with pesticides it’s scary. So if nothing else, try to at least buy these foods organically as they generally have the highest amounts of pesticides if not grown organically: Peaches, Apples, Bell Pepper, Celery, Nectarines, Strawberries, Cherries, Kale, Lettuce, Grapes (imported), Carrots and Pears. *Courtesy of Oprah.com
5. Blueberries — Blueberries are the ultimate superfood as they are chock full of antioxidants, phytoflavinoids, potassium and Vitamin C. The combination of these nutrients helps reduce inflammation and lower your risk for heart disease and cancer. “Inflammation is a key driver of all chronic diseases, so blueberries have a host of benefits,” says Ann Kulze, MD, of Charleston, S.C., author of Dr. Ann’s 10-Step Diet, A Simple Plan for Permanent Weight Loss and Lifelong Vitality. When selecting berries, note that the darker they are, the more anti-oxidants they have. “I tell everyone to have a serving (about 1/2 cup) every day,” Dr. Kulze says. “Frozen are just as good as fresh.”
6. Broccoli – Ahhh broccoli…life’s little edible trees. Add more of them to your diet to help fight certain types of cancer and increase your vitamin C intake. Likewise, broccoli is one of the best nondairy sources of calcium and is better absorbed by the body than spinach. So if you’re lactose intolerant, try munching on some broccoli to boost your Calcium intake for strong bones and teeth.
7. Tomatoes – This incredible fruit is loaded with micronutrients, vitamin A, vitamin C and antioxidants like lycopene that work together to ward off breast cancer, heart disease and other ailments. Scientific studies have shown that the more tomatoes you eat, the better. Cool fact about tomatoes is that cooking them in a little bit of healthy oil makes it easier for the body to absorb all of the beneficial nutrients.
8. Salmon – We’ve all heard that salmon is good for us because of the high Omega-3 fatty acid content. But in case you were wondering, the reason it’s important to incorporate Omega-3 fatty acids into your diet is because it helps promote healthy skin, joints and protects against heart disease. Likewise, studies have shown Omega-3 fatty acids also contribute to mood stability. When purchasing salmon look for the ocean farmed or wild varieties as they have the lowest amount of contaminants and highest amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids.
9. Steel Cut Oatmeal– Consider this the “grown up” oatmeal. Time to let go of the sugary packets of oatmeal you’ve been eating since you were young. According to Dr. Oz, “[Steel cut oatmeal] doesn’t have a lot of calories, and it drags the food [you eat] along so it can’t become like putty—until it gets to the very end,” He also says, “whole grains are an insoluble fiber, so it pulls water with it and it binds to all the other stuff you’re eating that may not be so good for you. It gets the whole bolus moving on.” Steel cut oats can lower cholesterol and high blood pressure and even help prevent heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Add this food to your breakfast with some chopped apples, cinnamon and honey to help you stay healthier, look younger and live longer.
10. Kiwi Fruit– This yummy little fruit contains high amounts of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin A and Fiber. Vitamin C is a water-soluble antioxidant that has been proven to protect the body from free radicals and dramatically improve the health of individuals who consumed it regularly against all kinds of disease, from cardiovascular problems to cancer and obesity. Vitamin E has been proven to have similar effects, but is fat-soluble and thus is complimentary to Vitamin C in its functions.